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Key Terminology

  • zkVM -- a virtual machine that runs trusted code and generates proofs
  • RISC Zero zkVM -- RISC Zero's zkVM implementation based on the RISC-V architecture
  • host -- the system the zkVM runs on
  • guest -- the system running inside the zkVM
  • host program -- the host-native, untrusted portion of an application
  • prover -- a program on the host that runs the trusted code to generate a receipt
  • verifier -- a program on the host that verifies receipts
  • method -- a single 'main' entry point for code that runs inside the zkVM
  • execute -- run a method inside the zkVM and produce a receipt of correct execution
  • commit -- append data to the journal
  • receipt -- a record of correct execution, consisting of:
    • image ID -- a small unique identifier that identifies the method or boot image for zkVM operation
    • journal -- all the things the method wants to publicly output and commit to, written to by the method, attached to receipt
    • seal -- the cryptographic blob which proves that the receipt is valid
  • verify -- check that the receipt is valid, i.e. verify the seal
  • theoretical nomenclature used in papers and internals of RISC Zero's zkVM implementation
    • proof -- the seal
    • circuit -- a mathematical construct that appears in one view as the "CPU" in the zkVM but on the other is part of the computation used to create proofs