The AZTEC team's latest project is Huff, an EDCC (aka smart contract) programming language that's not so much a language as it is a glorified Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) assembly code. Huff emerged during development of weierstrudel, an elliptic curve arithmetic library used to validate zero-knowledge proofs.
Elliptic curve arithmetic is computationally expensive, according to AZTEC chief technology officer Zac Williamson, so it became "paramount" to develop an efficient implementation of it. Williamson said such an implementation could not be built using the Solidity programming language.
Then came Huff. The "language" can be used to write, as Williamson characterizes it, "extremely gas-optimized code." Indeed, the weierstrudel library AZTEC has developed can perform "elliptic curve multiple-scalar multiplication for less gas than the Ethereum's 'precompile' smart contract." Using Solidity, the same type of computation would be approximately 30-100 times more expensive.
Further, Huff works by allowing individuals to construct EVM assembly macros, which are blocks of bytecode. These macros, together forming algorithms, can be rigorously tested without splitting the algorithms into functions, thereby enabling more efficient execution.
As for the name Huff, Williamson said it refers to a made-up game from his past involving a chessboard, a pub, and lots of confusion. The emotions Huff had elicited from him, he continued, hearkened to the invented game, thus Huff was chosen.
Technical details about Huff can be found within AZTEC's monolithic repository. Huff is open source, and anybody can contribute to its further development.