Contributing to open source projects and about learning zero-knowledge proofs posted February 2023
I introduced kimchi in this blogpost last year. It's the general-purpose zero-knowledge proof system that we will use in the next hardfork of Mina. We've been working on it continuously over the last two years to improve its features, performance, and usability.
Kimchi by itself is only a backend to create proofs. The whole picture includes:
- Pickles, the recursion layer, for verifying proofs within proofs (ad infinitum)
- Snarky, the frontend that allows developers to write programs in a higher-level abstraction that Kimchi and Pickles can prove
Today, both of these parts are written in OCaml and not really meant to be used outside of Mina. With the advent of zkapps most users are able to use all of this right now using typescript in a user-friendly toolbox called snarkyjs.
If you're only interested in using the main tool in typescript, head over to the snarkyjs repo.
Still, we would benefit from having the pickles + snarky + kimchi combo in a single language (Rust). This would allow us to move faster, and we would be able to improve performances even more. On top of that, a number of users have been looking for an all-in-one zero-knowledge proof Rust library that supports recursion without relying on a trusted setup.
For this reason, we've been moving more to the Rust side.
What does this have to do with you? Well, while we're doing this, kimchi could use some help from the community! We love open source, and so everything's developed in the open.
I've talked about external contributions to kimchi in the past and have since received a tremendous amount of replies and interest:
A year later, we're now the open source zero-knowledge project with the highest number of contributors (as far as I can tell), and we even hired a number of them!
Some of the contributors were already knowledgeable in ZKPs, some were already knowledgeable in Rust, some didn't know anything. It didn't really matter, as we followed the best philosophy for an open source project: the more transparent and understandable a project is, the more people will be able to contribute and build on top of it.
Kimchi has an excellent introduction to contributing (including a short video), a book explaining a number of concepts behind the implementation, a list of easy tasks to start with, and my personal support over twitter or Github =)
So if you're interested in any of these things, don't be shy, look at these links or come talk to me and I'll help you onboard to your first contribution!