Overview of Pickles

Pickles is a recursion layer built on top of Kimchi. The complexity of pickles as a protocol lies in specifying how to verify previous kimchi inside of the current ones. Working over two curves requires us to have different circuits and a “mirrored” structure, some computations are deferred for efficiency, and one needs to carefully keep track of the accumulators. In this section we provide a general overview of pickles, while next sections in the same chapter dive into the actual implementation details.

Pickles works over Pasta, a cycle of curves consisting of Pallas and Vesta, and thus it defines two generic circuits, one for each curve. Each can be thought of as a parallel instantiation of a kimchi proof systems. These circuits are not symmetric and have somewhat different function:

  • Step circuit: this is the main circuit that contains application logic. Each step circuit verifies a statement and potentially several (at most 2) other wrap proofs.
  • Wrap circuit: this circuit merely verifies the step circuit, and does not have its own application logic. The intuition is that every time an application statement is proven it’s done in Step, and then the resulting proof is immediately wrapped using Wrap.

General Circuit Structure

Both Step and Wrap circuits additionally do a lot of recursive verification of the previous steps. Without getting too technical, Step (without lost of generality) does the following:

  1. Execute the application logic statement (e.g. the mina transaction is valid)
  2. Verify that the previous Wrap proof is (first-)half-valid (perform only main checks that are efficient for the curve)
  3. Verify that the previous Step proof is (second-)half-valid (perform the secondary checks that were inefficient to perform when the previous Step was Wrapped)
  4. Verify that the previous Step correctly aggregated the previous accumulator, e.g. .

The diagram roughly illustrates the interplay of the two kimchi instances.


We note that the Step circuit may repeat items 2-3 to handle the following case: when Step 2 consumes several Wrap 1.X (e.g. Wrap 1.1, Wrap 1.2, etc), it must perform all these main Wrap 1.X checks, but also all the deferred Step 1.X checks where Wrap 1.X wraps exactly Step 1.X.

On Accumulators

The accumulator is an abstraction introduced for the purpose of this diagram. In practice, each kimchi proof consists of (1) commitments to polynomials, (2) evaluations of them, (3) and the opening proof. What we refer to as accumulator here is actually the commitment inside the opening proof. It is called sg in the implementation and is semantically a polynomial commitment to h(X) (b_poly in the code) — the poly-sized polynomial that is built from IPA challenges. It’s a very important polynomial – it can be evaluated in log time, but the commitment verification takes poly time, so the fact that sg is a commitment to h(X) is never proven inside the circuit. For more details, see Proof-Carrying Data from Accumulation Schemes, Appendix A.2, where sg is called U.

In pickles, what we do is that we “absorb” this commitment sg from the previous step while creating a new proof. That is, for example, Step 1 will produce this commitment that is denoted as acc1 on the diagram, as part of its opening proof, and Step 2 will absorb this commitment. And this “absorbtion” is what Wrap 2 will prove (and, partially, Step 3 will also refer to the challenges used to build acc1, but this detail is completely avoided in this overview). In the end, acc2 will be the result of Step 2, so in a way acc2 “aggregates” acc1 which somewhat justifies the language used.