SFBW 2019 Retro — ZKP Workshop, DeFi Hackathon & SFBW Official Technical Stage Highlights

O(1) Labs
O(1) Labs
Dec 21, 2019 · 7 min read

San Francisco Blockchain Week (SFBW) 2019 was bigger than ever this year, with significant energy and interest centering around SNARKs for different purposes, particularly scalability. We looked forward to all the interest and conversations around zk-SNARKs, meeting new community members at the Zero-Knowledge Proofs workshop, the DeFi Hackathon, the talk about PoS Codaboros on SFBW Epicenter Technical Stage, and other events.

Our co-founder and CTO, Izaak Meckler, in a panel (top left) and a talk on Codaboros at SFBW Epicenter Technical Stage (top right), and our Head of Product Engineering, Brandon Kase, at a panel on Testnet Incentives also at SFBW Epicenter Technical Stage (bottom)

Table of Contents

Workshop Overview of ‘Hitchhicker’s Guide to Zero Knowledge: How to Use SNARKs’

SFBW DeFi Hackathon

SFBW Epicenter Technical Stage Talk and Panel

Zero-Knowledge Proofs Workshop

The interest level and excitement about zero-knowledge proofs increases every year, and this year, it felt like everyone wanted to learn more about them. The workshop ‘Hitchhikers Guide to Zero Knowledge: How to Use SNARKs’ featured a hands-on workshop by Izaak Meckler (O(1) Labs/Coda Protocol), with closing remarks by Vitalik Buterin (Ethereum Foundation). 70+ SNARK enthusiasts from all over the globe attended the event and were ready to learn about using zk-SNARKs for their applications. The event sold out, but we plan to do more in 2020. If you want to view the video, and download the files necessary to participate, scroll to the bottom of this section.

Workshop on zk-SNARKs by Co-Founder and CTO, Izaak Meckler

The workshop kicked off early with the community team arriving early at 8am at the venue (Galvanize in San Francisco) to set up the recording equipment, prepare the breakfast and arrange the space for the event.

After breakfast, part 1 of the workshop kicked off with a presentation by Izaak on ‘The SNARK Landscape & Overview’, which covered the type of applications that zk-SNARKs are useful for, and how to use zk-SNARKs in the context of a full application architecture.

The class had the chance to process and absorb all information over lunch break before getting their hands dirty in the second part of the workshop on how to use Snarky (a high-level language for describing verifiable computations so that their correctness is more transparent) to program zk-SNARKs.

Workshop attendees learning how to program zk-SNARKs

Straight after the zk-SNARK workshop, we heard from another members from the zero-knowledge proofs family — zk-STARKs. Bobbin Threadbare gave a talk on AirScript, a language aimed to provide logic for generating execution trace, constraint evaluations and interpreting inputs for zk-STARKs.

Presentation on Airscripts, a language for defining zk-STARKs by guest speaker Bobbin Threadbare

Next up were Brice Huang & Brian Gu, both students at MIT, who gave an interesting talk on a live example of how zk-SNARKs are implemented in Dark Forest, a strategy MMO game.

Presentation on Dark Forests using zk-SNARKs by guest speakers Brice Huang and Brian Gu

And finally, last but not least, Vitalik Buterin spoke about use cases and applications of zero-knowledge proofs in Ethereum. One of the biggest challenges that Ethereum is facing now is scalability. Although different layer 2 solutions have been proposed in the past, zero-knowledge proof technology might provide a new, and better solution.

Presentation on zero-knowledge proofs by Founder and Chief Scientist of Ethereum — Vitalik Buterin

We’re happy to have met all attendees and speakers who share the same excitement about the potential of zero-knowledge proofs and we’re excited about what the first class of the zk-SNARK workshop will build.

How to Participate:

To participate in the coding portion of the workshop, you can watch the video and view the slide deck. To install the docker, you have two options:

  1. Use the docker container: We provide a docker container which already has a development environment setup for participating. The docker container is available on dockerhub through the repo “ihm0/snarky-sfbw”. Hint: run “docker pull ihm0/snarky-sfbw” to download the container, and run “docker run ihm0/snarky-sfbw -it /bin/bash” to start the container. For code completion and documentation when writing snarky code, we recommend using VsCode with the ReasonML plugin. You can use the Remote Container plugin to attach VsCode to the docker running docker container (see instructions here https://code.visualstudio.com/docs/remote/containers#_attaching-to-running-containers).
  • use cmd ‘docker pull’ on repo ihm0/snarky-sfbw
  1. If the docker container doesn’t work, follow these steps:
  • Install Node.js and Opam
  • Run the command “opam install snarkyjs”
  • Clone the tutorial code repo:


  • To play with the anonymous voting demo shown later in the workshop, clone this repo:


If you want to read the Snarky source code, and see more examples, or contribute source code:


SFBW DeFi Hackathon

We also participated in the DeFi Hackathon, alongside projects such as Cosmos, Nervos, and others. Our booth was busy throughout, with many stopping by to see a live demo on how the world’s first succinct blockchain works. We had a great time chatting up the awesome hackers from all over the world!

Hackers are visiting Coda’s booth at the DeFi Hackathon to chat with the team
Over 300 builders from all around the globe came together to complete exciting challenges
Brandon Kase, Head of Product Engineering, explaining the Coda challenge
Avery Morrin, a Front End Engineer on the team, kicked off the Coda challenge! (Left) Hackers collaborating in teams to come with the best solutions (Right)
Coda’s Co-Founder and CEO Evan Shapiro (right), and Head of Product Engineering, Brandon Kase (middle), reviewing what hackers have built during the hackathon (Left Image) and Evan Shapiro, co-founder and CEO, judged and got to meet a lot of the community members (Right Image)
Head of Product Engineering, Brandon Kase, judged and had fun celebrating with the hackers — their demo worked!

DeFi Hackathon Challenge: Painting with Coda

Coda’s challenge for the DeFi Hackathon is to synchronize a node with the live Coda testnet — and then build a cool visualization on top of the Coda GraphQL API.

1st Place — Coda Staker Dashboard

DevPost | GitHub

Vishakh and Varun from Cryptonoic Inc, built a cool staker dashboard to use on Coda. It shows useful metrics related to staking volumes, transaction fees and more for block producers on Coda. They have been participating in the Coda testnet for the last several months, so we were excited to meet them in person and see what they built. Vishakh and Varun: “We’ve worked with multiple testnets in the past. This is by far the most well organized and thoughtful. The awesome tooling and degree of automation, plus the collaboration from the team are great. Plus, succinct blockchains are just freaking amazing.”

1st place: Vishakh and Varun from Cryptonoic Inc, built an awesome staker dashboard to use on Coda

2nd Place — Coda Geographic Node Distribution


Matt Shi (not pictured) and his friend Alex Gednov, students at the University of Southern California (USC) and co-founders of Blockchain at USC, built a tool displaying geographic node distribution on the Coda network. They both love the idea of a constant-sized blockchain and are excited about the implications for scalability. They plan to continue to focus on building intuitive, minimalist tooling.

Get Involved — Coda Public Testnet Beta

Interested in getting involved? Trying out the succinct blockchain on Coda’s public Testnet Beta.

The community team logged many, many hours at the booth over the hackathon — we were all smiles after meeting so many awesome hackers!

SFBW Epicenter Technical Stage Talk and Panel

SFBW Epicenter Technical Stage Talk: PoS Codaboros

Izaak gave a talk at the Epicenter Technical Stage on Proof-of-Stake (PoS) Codaboros. In this talk, he explains succinct consensus, and the key differences of PoS Codaboros (what is used in Coda Protocol) and PoS Ouroboros (where Codaboros is based upon). Adjustments are made to PoS Ouroboros to make it succintifiable — small enough to happen inside a zk-SNARK and to be applied in world’s first succinct blockchain — Coda Protocol.

Video: Codaboros: Proof-of-Stake (PoS) and Recursive zk-SNARKs in Practice

Izaak Meckler, our co-founder and CTO explaining PoS Codaboros at SFBW Epicenter Technical Stage (Left) and Brandon Kase, Our head of Product Engineering, Zaki Manian (Tendermint and Coda testnet advisory board), Ben Golub (Storj), Illia Polosukhin(NEAR) and Ofer Rotem(Collider Ventures) on Competitive Testnets at SFBW Epicenter Technical Stage (Right)

Brandon was part of a panel together with Zaki Manian (Tendermint, Coda testnet advisory board), Ben Golub (Storj), Illia Polosukhin (NEAR) and Ofer Rotem (Collider Ventures). During the panel talk, the panelists discussed how their projects attract testnet users, and what considerations are at play.

Video: Playing to Win: Creating the Right Incentives for Competitive Testnets

We want to thank the organizers of SFBW for the amazing events and the opportunity of meeting all the hackers, builders, and community members over the world. The positive energy, excitement and the hopes for blockchain technology that everyone carried with them resonated deeply with our team. If you would like to stay in touch with us, join our Discord and sign up for the Coda newsletter. Hopefully, see you soon (again)!

O(1) Labs

Written by

O(1) Labs

We’re a software development company building Coda Protocol, a new cryptocurrency with a constant size blockchain, which can remain decentralized at scale.

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