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Prof. Allen Au and Dr Lu Xingye’s team wins ZPRIZE 2023 for blockchain innovation again demonstrating groundbreaking research in zero-knowledge proofs

24 May 2024

Led by PolyU Department of Computing Professor Prof. Allen AU Man Ho (1st from left) and Research Assistant Professor Dr Xingye LU (1st from right) and including team members Mengling LIU (2nd from right) and HENG Yang (2nd from left), the research team has again triumphed in the ZPRIZE competition with their ground-breaking technology on zero-knowledge cryptography.

Prof. Allen AU has also been honoured with the Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited Science and Technology Innovation Prize 2023 for the team’s exceptional accomplishments in the field of FinTech, and was a founding member of the CBDC Expert Group of The Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

Dr Lu Xingye said the team was honoured that their research results had been recognised internationally, and she hopes to continue to contribute to the development of blockchain and Web3-related fields.

The research team led by Prof. Allen AU Man Ho, our Professor, along with Dr LU Xingye, Research Assistant Professor, and two PhD students, LIU Mengling and HENG Yang, have won an award in the international ZPRIZE competition for the second consecutive year for their pioneering work in zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs). Their groundbreaking work in this field has profound implications for enhancing privacy and scalability in blockchain and Web3 applications.


The annual ZPRIZE competition, spearheaded by the blockchain industry in 2022, promotes the advancement of ZKPs by open-sourcing winning submissions for the reference of the general public. ZKPs allow a “prover” to convince a person of the validity of a computation without leaking any information; it is hence referred to as zero-knowledge cryptography.


This year, the PolyU team triumphed in the “High Throughput Signature Verification” open division category, winning a cash prize of US$250,000. They were tasked with verifying the greatest number of Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA) signatures in a given time using ZKPs. ECDSA signatures are used to prove the authenticity and integrity of digital messages over the internet and blockchain transactions on networks such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Making it more efficient to verify those signatures inside a ZKP cryptographically is important for creating a better user experience and enables numerous real-world applications.


The PolyU team’s innovative approach can generate ZKPs for the digital signatures of 50 1KB messages on a regular laptop computer within ten minutes, laying a solid foundation for future applications of ZKPs in ECDSA verification. It also reduces the complexity of generating proofs for a 5MB message’s digital signature to a maximum of 6.2 million constraints compared to over 50 million constraints previously - a minimum eight-fold reduction.


As a pioneer in blockchain education and research in Hong Kong, PolyU has introduced Hong Kong’s first Master of Science in Blockchain Technology programme. It has also initiated doctoral programmes relating to financial technology, as well as bachelor’s degree programmes relating to FinTech and Artificial Intelligence (AI). On the research front, the University has established the Research Centre for Blockchain Technology, the first research centre in Hong Kong whose research studies full-stack blockchain technology. According to the “Best Universities for Blockchain 2022” rankings by CoinDesk, PolyU has been ranked the No. 1 university for blockchain in the world.

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