International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Shuoyao Zhao


Pushing the Limits of Valiant's Universal Circuits: Simpler, Tighter and More Compact 📺
A universal circuit (UC) is a general-purpose circuit that can simulate arbitrary circuits (up to a certain size $n$). Valiant provides a $k$-way recursive construction of UCs (STOC 1976), where $k$ tunes the complexity of the recursion. More concretely, Valiant gives theoretical constructions of 2-way and 4-way UCs of asymptotic (multiplicative) sizes $5n\log n$ and $4.75 n\log n$ respectively, which matches the asymptotic lower bound $\Omega(n\log n)$ up to some constant factor. Motivated by various privacy-preserving cryptographic applications, Kiss et al. (Eurocrypt 2016) validated the practicality of $2$-way universal circuits by giving example implementations for private function evaluation. G{\"{u}}nther et al. (Asiacrypt 2017) and Alhassan et al. (J. Cryptology 2020) implemented the 2-way/4-way hybrid UCs with various optimizations in place towards making universal circuits more practical. Zhao et al. (Asiacrypt 2019) optimized Valiant's 4-way UC to asymptotic size $4.5 n\log n$ and proved a lower bound $3.64 n\log n$ for UCs under the Valiant framework. As the scale of computation goes beyond 10-million-gate ($n=10^7$) or even billion-gate level ($n=10^9$), the constant factor in UCs size plays an increasingly important role in application performance. In this work, we investigate Valiant's universal circuits and present an improved framework for constructing universal circuits with the following advantages. [Simplicity.] Parameterization is no longer needed. In contrast to that previous implementations resorted to a hybrid construction combining $k=2$ and $k=4$ for a tradeoff between fine granularity and asymptotic size-efficiency, our construction gets the best of both worlds when configured at the lowest complexity (i.e., $k=2$). [Compactness.] Our universal circuits have asymptotic size $3n\log n$, improving upon the best previously known $4.5n\log n$ by 33\% and beating the $3.64n\log n$ lower bound for UCs constructed under Valiant's framework (Zhao et al., Asiacrypt 2019). [Tightness.] We show that under our new framework the UCs size is lower bounded by $2.95 n\log n$, which almost matches the $3n\log n$ circuit size of our $2$-way construction. We implement the 2-way universal circuits and evaluate its performance with other implementations, which confirms our theoretical analysis.
Valiant’s Universal Circuits Revisited: An Overall Improvement and a Lower Bound
A universal circuit (UC) is a general-purpose circuit that can simulate arbitrary circuits (up to a certain size n). At STOC 1976 Valiant presented a graph theoretic approach to the construction of UCs, where a UC is represented by an edge universal graph (EUG) and is recursively constructed using a dedicated graph object (referred to as supernode). As a main end result, Valiant constructed a 4-way supernode of size 19 and an EUG of size $$4.75n\log n$$ (omitting smaller terms), which remained the most size-efficient even to this day (after more than 4 decades).Motivated by the emerging applications of UCs in various privacy preserving computation scenarios, we revisit Valiant’s universal circuits, and propose a 4-way supernode of size 18, and an EUG of size $$4.5n\log n$$. As confirmed by our implementations, we reduce the size of universal circuits (and the number of AND gates) by more than 5% in general, and thus improve upon the efficiency of UC-based cryptographic applications accordingly. Our approach to the design of optimal supernodes is computer aided (rather than by hand as in previous works), which might be of independent interest. As a complement, we give lower bounds on the size of EUGs and UCs in Valiant’s framework, which significantly improves upon the generic lower bound on UC size and therefore reduces the gap between theory and practice of universal circuits.


Zhenkai Hu (1)
Wenling Liu (1)
Hanlin Liu (2)
Yu Yu (2)
Jiang Zhang (2)