Introducing Mir

Predicate Labs · 2021-01-25

TLDR: Mir allows developers to build new types of decentralized applications on a blockchain that's scalable and private.

What is Mir?

Mir is a platform for decentralized applications that's powered by zero-knowledge proofs.1 Mir has a simple goal: to empower developers to build scalable and private decentralized apps.

Mir supports existing decentralized applications, while also providing privacy and reducing state size for validators by 1000x.2 Mir scales horizontally, increasing throughput with every node that joins the network, but without sacrificing security, usability, or decentralization.

This makes Mir a new kind of blockchain. As applications become popular, more nodes are incentivized to join Mir, allowing even greater scale. Developers can build Internet-scale (and private!) applications without fighting for blockspace.

Building on Mir

Why do we need Mir? Because everyone deserves to benefit from crypto. Most users are priced out of using Bitcoin and Ethereum directly, and many applications3 aren't economically feasible to build on Ethereum. Mir is succinctly verifiable: it can be used on any device and can trustlessly interoperate with existing protocols.

We view Mir as complementary to Bitcoin and Ethereum. From our perspective, Bitcoin aims to be digital gold, a reserve asset for the Internet, while Ethereum is Crypto Wall Street, a platform for an alternative financial system. Mir will never be digital gold, and it won't replace Ethereum for users that need direct access to existing financial infrastructure and liquidity.

Developers on Mir can build new types of applications, like private financial infrastructure, including private stablecoins and exchanges. It's possible to build essential non-financial apps, like privately recoverable accounts. Mir even allows developers to build applications that challenge the centralized Internet, like forking Facebook.

Decentralization matters

In 19th-century Russia, political theorists searched for an alternative to serfdom, a system in which serfs lacked economic and political power, their lives dominated by aristocratic landowners. They found the mir, a self-governing village where citizens collectively controlled and benefited from their work.

When we look at the modern Internet, who controls the services that we use to communicate, transact, and build? Not us. The Internet is controlled by the landowners, the operators of our payment networks, social networks, and financial services, who extract rent at our expense.

The modern Internet user is not a 19th-century serf, but the imbalance of power is similar, and the alternative is the same: Mir, a platform controlled by users, where anyone can build decentralized services that allow people to communicate, transact, and build, without rent-seekers, gatekeepers, or middlemen.

Join us

Mir will only reach its potential when it has an engaged community exploring what it can do. We at Predicate Labs may have built the first version of Mir, but it's the community that will determine whether Mir can help the Internet become more open and more free.

We've imagined some use cases for Mir, but part of the fun of a project like this is that we don't know how it will end up being most useful. We hope you will join us on the journey toward a decentralized Internet, and that you will show us what Mir can do.

You can find us on Telegram, Discord, and Twitter.

Read more

If you'd like more detail about what we're building, check out the following explainers.

  • Mir uses zero-knowledge proofs to improve scalability by simplifying transaction execution and to scale throughput with the total compute on the network. Post
  • Verifying transactions with zero-knowledge proofs limits scalability because ZKP's are more expensive to verify than most transactions. We avoid this with recursive proofs. Post
  • We reduce state size for validators by 1000x, without a corresponding bandwidth penalty for transactions. Post
  • Mir provides an execution environment designed to support the full range of existing decentralized apps. Post

Coming soon

Stay tuned for upcoming posts where we describe Mir's privacy model, and how it can hide the transaction graph without state growth. We'll also show how it's possible to build more complex applications like AMM's on Mir.

Finally, look out for our testnet, coming soon!

Notes

1

More precisely, Mir is a layer-one, proof-of-stake blockchain that uses the Tendermint consensus algorithm. It aims to support the full range of applications that can be built on Ethereum.

2

Nodes on Mir don't need to download historical transactions, so is based on a comparison with the current state on Ethereum, where Etherscan reports 130gb using Geth, with ~50gb in the current state, and ~80 million addresses, yielding 625 bytes/active account, vs ~5 bits/active account for Mir.

3

Examples are universal logins and smart contract wallets, which are important for Ethereum and for the greater Internet, but are negatively affected by high transaction fees.