Here at Rootstrap, our Blockchain Developers are often asked, what is interoperability and why is it important? So, we decided to write an article to help our community understand it.
It has been 13 years since blockchain was created. Since then, the industry has grown exponentially, going from 0 to 2.3 trillion in market cap out of nowhere. With blockchain, where the market moves, the investors and innovators naturally move also.
That's why this industry development has been fast and furious like a wild leopard, killing and eating projects that are not ready to grow and scale at the same speed as the market.
We have seen a lot of innovations in this high-speed market, starting with Ethereum and the creation of smart contracts, and by allowing development on top of these networks, anybody with the right knowledge can create a token or a Dapp.
However, Ethereum became a monster of sorts, and a lot of decentralized applications were created on top of this network, causing the network to become slow and expensive. That's why a lot of blockchain experts worked to solve this scalability problem.
Many achieved this by using the same Ethereum blockchain and creating a fork, whereas others went the route of creating a brand new blockchain. That's how the “Ethereum killers” and the “2 layers” were born.
On top of this, now that we have fast and cheap blockchains there is another problem, we can not directly send a cryptocurrency from a Solana address to an Ethereum address without losing all of the funds. This is because blockchains are not interoperable.
There has been a principal development in solving this problem - the bridges. Bridges can be complex as you need to spend some money to do a conversion. Also, in some cases, you get a wrapped cryptocurrency, i.e. a token that represents crypto that is native from another network (like a stable coin but wrapped to the value of crypto). This can be uncomfortable for the user.
Polkadot was created with the intention of solving these interoperability problems. They are not alone, however. Networks such as Cosmos are also trying to solve this problem, as well as Kusama as they are a part of Polkadot’s ecosystem (more on Kusama in a future article).
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Who is Gavin Wood?
Doctor Gavin Wood is one of the “Big Three” Ethereum co-founders along with Vitalik Buterin and Charles Hoskinson. Wood’s contribution to Ethereum was decisive as he was behind the creation of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), as well as the main creator of Solidity, the most used smart contract language.
After several years as Ethereum CTO, the “big three” group dissolved, and Wood, Buterin, and Honkinson went their separate ways. Buterin stayed in Ethereum as its leader, Honkinson co-funded another big project - Cardano, while Wood followed his own path and created Web3 Foundation, a big project in which they would create some interoperable networks i.e Polkadot and Kusama.
What is Polkadot used for?
Polkadot is a large and highly complex architecture project, which I prescribe as a 3rd generation blockchain. In simple terms, it's a large network in which another 100 networks can be connected.
The main network is called Relay Chain which operates as a smart-contractless network where its main function is solely transactional.
On the other hand, we have those 100 networks that are compatible and connected to the Relay Chain. They are known as Parachains.
These networks are independent of each other and they can have totally different objectives. In other words, they are different blockchains, interconnected by a common and compatible, the Relay Chain.
There are a lot of participants that can provide a hand in the harmony of the network. These are validators, collators, nominators, and fishermen. Their main functions are as follows:
- Validators: the highest charge in the network with a mission is to seal new blocks on Polkadot.
- Nominators: a stake-holding party that contributes to the security bond of the validators. They work to place risk capital in signal to ensure trust in specific validators.
- Collator: parties that help Validators create blocks on specific parachains.
- Fishermen: similar to a bounty hunter, their objective is to catch parties acting illegally.
Polkadot uses a Proof of Stake system, in which nominators back validators with their own stake as a show of faith in the good behavior of the validator. Fishermen regulate that everything is done normally, while collators do the same work as validators but on different Parachains.
Taken from a Polkadot whitepaper, Gavin Wood states, “By providing strong guarantees over security, isolation, and communication, Polkadot can allow parachains to select from a range of properties themselves”.
The idea behind Polkadot is to become the “internet of blockchains” in which they are a network connecting another 100 different networks, letting people use those parachains for their unique purposes. At the time of writing, there are 5 slots of parachains earned by 5 different projects.
Some of these parachains such as Moonbeam and Astar bring the EVM to the Polkadot hub, while then there are projects like Acala and Parallel that bring DeFi (decentralized finance) to the network. There are also projects that bring both at the same time like Clover finance.
- SubDao is a network that will provide a lot of tools for the creation and management of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs).
- Manta Networks is a project aimed at creating a private and almost anonymous network in which users can transact.
- Centrifuge's aim is to tokenize real word assets and give the opportunity to do DeFi with them.
It is all about timing when more slots are earned by different projects and Polkadot becomes mainstream. When this happens, maybe we could see some big projects like Ethereum or Solana having a slot on the Relay Chain as a parachain of Polkadot.
Let's just remember that Vitalik Buterin helped Gavin Wood write some sections of Polkadot's whitepaper, and there are also some entire sections talking about Polkadot and Ethereum compatibility…
Is it a 3rd generation blockchain?
The simple answer - yes, it is.
I absolutely consider Polkadot to be a 3rd generation blockchain as its mission is to create a big and scalable hub in which lots of projects can live and grow together,
But, let’s talk a little bit about the other generations:
- In 2009 Satoshi Nakamoto created the first blockchain known as Bitcoin. This blockchain was very disruptive because as it was decentralized, it let people complete p2p transactions on the internet and allowed us to avoid the double pay problem.
- Some years later a Bitcoin fan detected a big problem in the network - you couldn't develop there! This is why Vitalik created Ethereum, the first decentralized network in which we could develop decentralized applications thanks to the EVM, as well as it’s turing completeness that allows the usage of smart contracts, courtesy of Wood.
- Some years later, the creator of the EVM took his own path and tried to solve one of Ethereum's big problems: interoperability, and that's how Polkadot was created.
So, to sum up, we can detect some correlations between the 3 blockchains, and how a person tried to solve an unsolved problem that another person left. It really is fascinating stuff how this all came about.
Conclusion on Polkadot
At Rootstrap, we use and develop the Polkadot network as we believe that it is one of the most relevant and important blockchain technologies on the market.
Our mission is to become one of the most relevant developing teams in this technology and we aim to succeed in this by entering into this field and mastering the most modern and innovative technologies.
In this article, we provided a simple description of Polkadot’s architecture and philosophy, as well as a bit of its history, and why we feel that Polkadot is going to be a crucial character in the near future.