Theory Seminar: Weak Zero-Knowledge Beyond the Black-Box Barrier

Omer Paneth (MIT)
Wednesday, 23.1.2019, 12:30
Taub 201

The round complexity of zero-knowledge protocols is a long-standing open question, yet to be settled under standard assumptions. So far, the question has appeared equally challenging for relaxations such as weak zero-knowledge and witness hiding. Protocols satisfying these relaxed notions under standard assumptions have at least four messages, just like full-fledged zero knowledge. The difficulty in improving round complexity stems from a fundamental barrier: none of these notions can be achieved in three messages via reductions (or simulators) that treat the verifier as a black box.

We introduce a new non-black-box technique and use it to obtain the first protocols that cross this barrier under standard assumptions. Our main results are:
– Weak zero-knowledge for NP in two messages, assuming quasipolynomially-secure fully-homomorphic encryption and other standard primitives (known from quasipolynomial hardness of Learning with Errors), as well as subexponentially-secure one-way functions.
– Weak zero-knowledge for NP in three messages under standard polynomial assumptions (following for example from fully-homomorphic encryption and factoring).

We also give, under polynomial assumptions, a two-message witness-hiding protocol for any language L \in NP that has a witness encryption scheme. This protocol is also publicly verifiable.

Our technique is based on a new homomorphic trapdoor paradigm, which can be seen as a non-black-box analog of the classic Feige-Lapidot-Shamir trapdoor paradigm.

Joint work with Nir Bitansky and Dakshita Khurana

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