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Solar Designer (@solardiz) to help review ProgPoW (new PoW scheme ASIC-resistant) - GrantProposals-2018Q2

I am creating this pre-proposal primarily to get something in by the deadline, without being sure whether this proposals/grants mechanism is the most appropriate for this specific problem given its scope and importance (to me, it feels like it may very well be beyond these grant rounds, but I don't know whether other funding mechanisms are currently possible). In other words, having this in buys us time to consider my/our (Openwall) involvement under this grants framework, and decide for or against it later. Background/introduction To provide some background/introduction, I previously worked on/for Zcash in 2016 resulting in this article published in November 2016: http://www.openwall.com/articles/Zcash-Equihash-Analysis where I predicted the ASICs as follows: Equihash is not the most ASIC-resistant PoW scheme out there (likely by far) when compared to certain symmetric sequential memory-hard schemes at similar or even lower proof computation times. Yet this comparison isn't fair, since asymmetry is a desirable property, and the maximum acceptable proof verification time may be limiting the memory settings of a symmetric scheme. Thus, the choice of Equihash may pose a reasonable tradeoff given the multiple goals of Zcash and the timing of its release. Overall, I expect that if/once there is sufficient perceived incentive, custom Zcash mining hardware will appear. It is currently unclear which one(s) of the possible forms it will take. My guesstimate for the current Equihash parameters and current technology is a factor of 10 to 100 improvement in energy efficiency and hardware cost over the most suitable commodity hardware. This might eventually put Zcash on par with Litecoin (but not Bitcoin) in terms of ASIC mining, although ASIC design complexity and required investment will likely be way higher than for Litecoin. Please see the article for a lot more detail, including on different possible approaches to design of Equihash ASICs. "[A] factor of ...
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