Our project will realize a new trustless off-chain voting system for DAO governance. This is based on our recent breakthrough in threshold signatures, which provides orders of magnitude more efficiency than alternative zkSNARK-based solutions for off-chain voting. We are seeking a grant of 25 ETH to further develop our prototype library (implementing the signature scheme) into a production quality implementation that can be integrated into wallets.
Typical DAO voting systems fall into one of two categories. They either (i) perform voting off-chain, and place trust in the DAO leadership that controls an on-chain multisig wallet, or (ii) require DAO members to vote on-chain, thus avoiding trust in specific parties but with the downside of high gas cost.
With the goal of achieving the best of both worlds — the low cost of off-chain voting and the trust assumptions with on-chain voting — we developed a threshold signature scheme that scales to hundreds of thousands of signers. At the heart of our approach is a new, custom SNARK that enables an aggregator (e.g. the DAO platform) to compute a compact proof that sufficient number of signers (with a combined total weight, measured in voting power) have signed on a proposal. Specifically, our breakthrough is in developing a scheme that does not require an expensive distributed key generation setup that is commonly associated with threshold signature schemes, and natively supports having weights for each signer.
Not surprisingly, there are other projects (e.g. Isokratia) targeting the same problem as us. However, their approach involves proving statements of complex cryptographic operations within off-the-shelf SNARKs, leading to very large constraint sizes — proving statements about group operations is not SNARK-friendly. This limits the use of such systems to small DAOs, as the aggregator must perform several minutes of computation for even hundreds of signers. Our goal is to scale to DAOs with up to a million members.
Our project is open source, and we also invite contributions from the community. Furthermore, any related papers will also be posted on Eprint, which will be freely accessible by anyone. Our timeline is as follows:
Step 1: Continue development of the threshold signatures library on https://github.com/zkbricks/hints, specifically targeting performance optimizations. (Expected time: 6 weeks)
Step 2: Extensive stress testing and documentation (Expected time: 4 weeks)
Step 3: Develop a EVM smart contract that will verify the threshold signature on proposals, serving as a barebones example DAO contract. (Expected time: 4 weeks)
Outside the scope of this grant, but on our roadmap nevertheless:
- WalletConnect integration, which will allow DAO platforms to use our library.
- Building an end-to-end demo with a DAO platform
Prof. Sanjam Garg is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests are in cryptography and its applications to security and privacy. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2013 and his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, in 2008. Prof. Garg is a co-author of over 90 papers published at top cryptography and security conferences. Prof. Garg received various honors, such as the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award, the Sloan Research Fellowship, and the IIT Delhi Graduates of the Last Decade Award. Prof. Garg’s research has been recognized with best paper awards at EUROCRYPT 2013, CRYPTO 2017, and EUROCRYPT 2018. (See www.cs.berkeley.edu/~sanjamg)
Dr. Rohit Sinha is a cryptography engineer, having held cryptography research roles at Hedera Hashgraph and Meta after obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. His work has been published in venues such as USENIX Security and CCS, and his open-source contributions can be found at https://github.com/rsinha.
Funding the team while we work on the deliverables.
 Leemon Baird, Sanjam Garg, Abhishek Jain, Pratyay Mukherjee, Rohit Sinha, Mingyuan Wang, and Yinuo Zhang. Threshold signatures in the multiverse. In 44nd IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, SP 2023, San Francisco, CA, USA, 2023 (https://eprint.iacr.org/2023/063.pdf)
 Sanjam Garg, Abhishek Jain, Pratyay Mukherjee, Rohit Sinha, Mingyuan Wang, and Yinuo Zhang. hinTS: Threshold Signatures with Silent Setup. Draft.