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In a zero-knowledge proof, the prover has some data they want to prove to the verifier without revealing the actual data. The prover can construct a Merkle tree from the data, a type of binary tree that allows the prover to efficiently prove the authenticity of the data without revealing the actual data.
Here's how it works:
- 1.The prover hashes the data they want to prove and arranges the hashes in a binary tree structure, with each leaf node representing a hash of a piece of data and each non-leaf node representing the hash of its child nodes. This tree is called the Merkle tree.
- 2.The prover sends the tree's root hash (also known as the "Merkle root") to the verifier.
- 3.The verifier can then ask the prover to provide the hashes for specific leaf nodes in the tree, which the prover does without revealing the actual data. The verifier can then use these hashes to recompute the root hash and verify that it matches the root hash provided by the prover.
- 4.If the root hash provided by the prover matches the root hash computed by the verifier. In that case, the verifier can be confident that the data is authentic, even though they never saw it.
Merkle trees are used in many applications, including secure communication protocols, digital currencies, and distributed systems. They are instrumental in zero-knowledge proofs because they allow the prover to efficiently prove the authenticity of large amounts of data without revealing the actual data.