What Is Polkadot? - An Introductory Guide To The Layer-0 Multi-Compatible Blockchain Network
By Damian David Mar 8, 2023
Polkadot is a decentralized, scalable and heterogeneous blockchain network running on smart contracts that allows interaction between multiple blockchain networks and facilitates data transfer from one blockchain network to another regardless of their distinctive and rigid architecture.
Polkadot was authored by Ethereum Co-founder Gavin Wood, initially created as "Kusama" it was further developed by Parity Technologies and is presently being managed by the Web3 Foundation, all of which is a product of Gavin Wood's serial technological developments.
- Polkadot was launched on May 26, 2020 by Gavin Wood, Robert Habermeier and Peter Czaban, four years after Gavin Wood published the first Polkadot whitepaper in 2016.
- Polkadot's solution to the blockchain industry is providing a means whereby different blockchains can communicate and exchange data seamlessly.
- Polkadot provides security, validators, interoperability, speed and consensus to blockchains that will build on its network allowing the blockchains to focus more on their services, products, individuality and governance.
- Polkadot has the lowest carbon footprint as it uses the equivalent of ~6.6 US households worth of energy per year.
- Polkadot can process up to 1000 transactions per second (TPS), and this is facilitated by its NPoS (nominated proof-of-stake) consensus mechanism.
- Polkadot architectural blockchain is tagged the "relay-chain" which serves as the layer-0 or base layer for subsequent blockchains which are tagged the "para-chains" or "parallel-chains".
- Polkadot serves as a bridge seamlessly connecting with other blockchains thereby facilitating data and asset transfers.
- Polkadot was first released as "Kusama". Kusama is the testing ground of all future developments and experiments that will eventually go live on the Polkadot Network.
- Polkadot allows a limited number of parachains currently estimated to be about 100, a spot can be gotten by lease using Polkadot's Governance granted parachains, or Auction granted parachains.
How Does Polkadot Network Work?
– A Comprehensive Overview
As aforementioned, Polkadot serves as a link connecting multi-chains from different networks and protocols regardless of their distinctive and rigid architecture. This is possible because of the technical buildup of its architecture which can be divided into four layers namely; The Relay Chain, The Parachains, The Parathreads and The Bridges.
The Relay Chain, also known as the Base Layer or the Layer-0 or The Parent Chain is the tag given to the Polkadot blockchain network. The Relay Chain holds together everything including the chains, functions, features, utilities, and products that are on the Polkadot Network.
The Relay Chain can be pictured as a parent who is fond of adopting children and will inadvertently provide the security, resources, education and unity these children are supposed to have. To relate this description to the Polkadot Network, replace these children with Parachains.
The Parachains also known as Parallel-chains or the Layer-1 or Layer-2 is the tag given to the sovereign blockchains built and functioning on the Polkadot Relay Chain Network. Just like it was described above, Parachains enjoy the benefits of being a child to the Relay Chain but they still maintain their individuality, genes, names and identity.
To further buttress these benefits, the Relay Chain provides the complex and bogus parts of building a blockchain which is the security, validators, cross-chain interoperability, speed, and consensus. The Parachains building on the Polkadot Relay Chain leverages on the aforementioned benefits and just have to focus on their functionality, token, products, and sovereignty.
The Parathreads can be likened to the Parachains, but Instead of the Parathreads to allow adoption by the Parent Chain (Relay Chain), it instead offers to pay a certain amount of money, somewhat like a rent to enjoy the benefits of living under the roof of the Relay Chain for a while until it needs them no more.
This is a more economical or cost effective method of building your blockchain on the Polkadot Network especially if you're certain you won't be needing the services the Polkadot Network provides forever, or if you're certain you'll be able to handle your security, speed and consensus in the long run by yourself.
The Bridges in the Polkadot Network is a technology that makes it possible for the Parachains and Parathreads in the Relay Chain to exchange information, tokens, and assets to external and allegedly rigid and non-scalable blockchains like Ethereum and Bitcoin.
The Bridges is the most fundamental part of the Polkadot Network as it makes it possible for the Polkadot Network to brand itself as a multi-chain multi-compatible blockchain network allowing the transfer of assets and data from one blockchain to another in the DeFi ecosystem.
Who Are Nominators?
Nominators are one of the four roles that contribute to the upkeep of the Polkadot Network. Their role in the Polkadot Network can be likened to miners of Proof-Of-Work (PoW) networks.
Nominators are in charge of endorsing Validators in the Polkadot Network. This endorsement is made by adding a substantial amount of DOT coins to their endorsed validators already staked tokens.
This process collectively signifies their trust in the Validitor and subsequently guarantees the security and smooth running of the Polkadot Network.
Who Are Validators?
Validators are one of the four roles that contribute to the upkeep of the Polkadot Network. They are the ones with the highest responsibility in the maintenance and smooth running of the Polkadot Network.
Validators are mandated to deposit or stake a substantial amount of DOT coins, have a high performing node or computer and must be incessantly available on request or on need by the Polkadot Network.
The availability of Validitors in the Polkadot Network ensures faster and bigger throughput as the manpower and resource is available for the continuous need to ratifying, validating and republishing blocks.
Who Are Collators?
Collators are one of the four roles that contribute to the upkeep of the Polkadot Network. They work very closely with the Validators and assist to ensure maximum throughput of valid Parachain blocks.
Collators have their own nodes fully assigned to a Parachain in the Polkadot Network. They can be likened to ghostwriters of a musician, in this case the musician being the Validitors.
Collators are practical and pivotal in their contribution to the smooth running, better throughput and faster transactions the Polkadot Network currently possesses. Their role in the Polkadot Network is said to be evolving with time.
Who Is A Fisherman?
Fishermen are one of the four roles that contribute to the upkeep of the Polkadot Network but they are not directly contributing to the roles of Nominators, Validators and Collators. They precisely and are actively focused on the security aspect.
In this case, they're chiefly responsible for spotting maliciousness and carelessness by Validators and reporting it to the Polkadot Network to get a "big reward".
They can be pictured as informers or vigilantes of the Polkadot Network and are pivotal in guaranteeing security as they ensure validators are always at their best behavior.
What is Nominated Proof-Of-Stake (NPoS)?
Nominated Proof-Of-Stake (NPoS) is a type of the Proof-of-stake Consensus mechanism that allows token holders to act and earn as validators without owning and operating a full node.
This is because a token holder adds his or her token to the staked token of an existing validator of their choice and subsequently gets a percentage of whatever the validator earns.
The Polkadot Network chiefly uses the NPoS consensus mechanism, and it has been one of the factors responsible for its high security, faster and bigger throughput and scalability.
What Is DOT?
DOT is the official utility and governance coin of the Polkadot Blockchain Network. DOT was launched in August 2020, three months after the launch of the Polkadot Network.
Dot has been used to generate capital for the Polkadot Network through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) that raised $145 Million in 2017 and $43 Million in 2019 respectively.
DOT price as of March 2023 is $5.84 with a market cap of $6,784,695,984. The total supply of the DOT coin is not known but the circulating supply as of March 2023 is 1,163,569,060 coins.
Is Polkadot Safe?
The Polkadot Network uses a Nominated Proof-Of-Stake (NPoS) Consensus mechanism that doubles the security the normal Proof-Of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism provides.
It also has literal "bounty hunters" tagged Fishermen, for malicious and careless events that might happen in the Polkadot Network. Putting these two factors in consideration it is safe to say the Polkadot Network is safe.
Why Choose Polkadot?
Polkadot is a mega protocol that can connect you to thousands of other blockchains that will be of benefit to you one way or the other.
Polkadot serves as a connecting bridge to the biggest blockchain networks, facilitating scalability and interoperability and aiding data and asset transfers between them.
Polkadot is Layer-0, meaning it is a fluid protocol, flexible and versatile to host any blockchain regardless of its individual composition and it provides the best of security and utilities at the same time.