IOHK researcher Bernardo David, who works at Tokyo Institute of Technology at the cryptocurrency lab established in cooperation with IOHK, gives a quick video introduction on Multi-party Computation Protocols.
Multi-party Computation Protocols, otherwise referred to as MPC, is a cryptographic protocol that allows a number of distrustful parties (do not trust anybody but themselves) to compute a computer program on private inputs without ever revealing any information about these private inputs to any of the other people involved in the computation or any third party in the public.
This protocol basically works as a black box where you can input some data that will go thru a computer program and then, you can receive the output data. You have no idea what computation was done inside the black box nor will you know what other people’s data was. But in the end, you get the output and you can compute meaningful applications.
In developing the Cardano project, they have gone through several phases. Firstly, IOHK conducts scientific, cryptographic research into developing the cryptographic protocols that we are and will be used within the Cardano project. In doing this research, the researchers at IOHK write scientific papers and submit them to peer-review conferences to make sure the science is solid. The peer review process gives them high assurance needed in moving to the next step, which is implementing those scientific papers and developing the actual product.
From there, IOHK focuses on high assurance implementation. This is to ensure the implemented product actually corresponds to the scientific research they have done. This includes a long process of first writing a formal specification of what this protocol should do. Then, this is sent to engineering department that will implement this formal specification. This entire process allows the research side to be in constant contact with the people writing the formal specifications, the engineers who are developing the software, and engineers testing the developed software. All of which helps make sure the research is faithfully implemented by the final product.
In this video, Bernardo brings up Ouroboros as an example. The IOHK research team have already written three papers that have been published and peer-reviewed at major conferences. From this, they know that they can build the Ouroboros protocol, they can build Ouroboros Praos, and they can build the Scrape protocol (the protocol that generates randomness for the first version of Ouroboros). But at the moment, they are still only running the Ouroboros protocol plus Scrape. And why is that? That is because they are taking extra care in implementing the Ouroboros Praos protocol. IOHK want to make sure to get all the details perfectly right so that the final product is really what they proved secure in the scientific paper.
In the realm of MPC, they also have a number of protocols for running card games without trusted third parties. They are developing a protocol for running general computer programs inside an MPC protocol. This will soon be released and available publicly.