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I was introduced to NIZK from the notion of CRS: since we have a trusted CRS, then a prover can simulate a challenge by querying the CRS.

Similarly, the prover can simulate the challenge of a verifier by using the Fiat-Shamir heuristic.

  • Can someone explain if there is any relation between the two?
  • Are they two different methods or very similar?
  • Can we replace the oracle with a PRF and a CRS?

Sorry for the confusion, if someone can clarify the two models and also give me pointers would be really appreciated.

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Since there are no answers here yet, I'll write down my own opinion.

  1. The Fiat-Shamir heuristic for augmenting Sigma-protocols (or possibly any 3-move honest-verifier ZKPoK?) works as follows: For the problem statement $X$ and first prover message $A$, the prover self-generates the challenge $e = H(X,A)$and uses it to generate its final response $z$. Note that these proofs can be replayed.

  2. In Damgard's paper “Efficient Concurrent Zero-Knowledge in the Auxiliary String Model” the Common Reference String model is used to generate a trapdoor commitment scheme, enabling the verifier to simulate a proof and thus guaranteeing zero-knowledge. In this setting, since the prover still actively participates in the protocol and Special Soundness is assumed, the prover cannot cheat.

To me it seems that your conjecture is true. Given a collision-resistant hash function $H$ (a criterion I think a PRF satisfies), digesting $A$ and the common reference string together should derive a ZKPoK out of a Sigma Protocol. But the thing is, that string should only be unique, and it is solely in the interest of the verifier that it be so. Therefore even a malicious verifier can be trusted to provide it properly, and the overhead of a CRS setup having to generate unique strings can be avoided.

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