Yo there; Sarang Noether here with my monthly report for March. This report is a bit shorter than some previous months, but certainly not for a lack of progress. As always, my thanks go out to you fine folks in Moneroland for your continued support of my work and Monero research in general.
The audit process for Bulletproofs is underway, thanks to generous funding support from the community. Due to recent price fluctuation, expect a second round of funding to cover the needed amount, which is set in U.S. dollars.
I presented at the Discover Blockchains event in Portland about the importance of privacy in cryptographic assets. The audience was primarily non-technical, so as the only active researcher on the speaking roster, I was glad to provide good information that the audience likely did not already know. There were some dubious claims made in a few other talks that it was nice to address.
Related to this, msvb-lab and I submitted a proposal to present at the upcoming DEF CON China event in Beijing. The presentation would cover the basic mathematics and cryptography behind Monero, an overview of known weaknesses and our approach to mitigation, as well as hands-on experience with hardware. We are waiting to hear if the talk is accepted. Expenses are covered by the organizers, so we would not expect a need for community support to attend.
I further assisted Surae Noether with the last steps of his excellent multisignature paper. Expect to see it on an internet near you in the near future once the last bits of narrative and proofreading polish are complete.
There has been an increased amount of outreach and analysis this month in response to some high-profile media attention surrounding both an unaffiliated key-reuse fork (not our scheduled network upgrade, mind you, which is different) and the release of an updated paper on tracing. The tracing paper doesn't really address anything we didn't already know about, despite some of the poor journalism regarding it in the media. Much of the material from the paper was addressed last year with a larger standard ring size and the widespread use of RingCT-only transactions taking advantage of the ring benefits. Further, we are in the process of once again updating the way we select fake outputs in ring signatures to better match known spend patterns; this change does not require consensus and is independent of any network upgrades. As to the key-reuse fork, our fine developers have mitigations ready for both Monero and alternate projects to use, but the safest course of action for all users is not to claim funds on unaffiliated forks. We will continue to educate the public on best practices for safe use. It was put very elegantly by sgp that "Monero is a tool that can provide significant privacy under a variety of use-cases."
It was recently announced that Surae Noether and I will serve on the board of MAGIC: Multidisciplinary Academic Grants in Cryptocurrencies, a new U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting education and outreach for cryptocurrency research and public knowledge. Funding permitting, in its first year of operation, the group expects to offer several grants to graduate and undergraduate students; it will also plan and operate a free cryptocurrency development and research conference next year focusing on privacy. The organization is not directly affiliated with either the Monero Project or Monero Research Lab (for legal reasons), but operates independently and with community support. We strongly believe that encouraging and supporting education will empower new generations of researchers and developers and benefit projects like Monero far into the future. The organization's board will meet next month for planning and nonprofit legal paperwork.
Now on to Sarang's Reading Corner. A lot of interesting papers come to my attention, both old and new, and there have been requests that I share some of them. Here are a few of the interesting ones:
zkLedger: Privacy-Preserving Auditing for Distributed Ledgers, an audit-friendly distributed ledger that would not scale outside of a semi-centralized system
Stake-Bleeding Attacks on Proof-of-Stake Blockchains, a great analysis of certain proof-of-stake attacks that continue to convince me why PoS is not a good idea
An Empiric Analysis of Traceability in the Monero Blockchain, an update to a paper describing known methods of analysis of certain transactions
zkSNARKs in a Nutshell, a nice overview
Thanks again to the community for ongoing support of the Monero Research Lab. Onward!