CryptoBasics: Cardano

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Background

Cardano is a platform that is led by Ethereum’s former co-founder, Charles Hoskinson. Most notably, it claims to be the world’s first blockchain platform that leverages academically peer-reviewed source code.

The platform was originally launched in late 2017 by blockchain startup IOHK (Input Output Hong Kong). The primary currency on the Cardano blockchain is ADA, which has a market cap in excess of $10.5b and was ranked the 6th largest cryptocurrency in the world in terms of market capitalization in February 2018.

Team Members

Cardano’s sole leader and head visionary is Charles Hoskinson, a co-founder of Ethereum who also founded the blockchain financial platform BitShares.

The project is primarily supported by IOHK, which has a vibrant and dedicated development team focused on the platform. In addition, the platform receives investment and expertise from Emurgo, a blockchain incubator and investment fund.

In addition to having the support of Hoskinson and IOHK, Cardano also benefits from having a broad network of researchers and academics around the world who have contributed to the development of the platform’s blockchain protocol. Indeed, this peer-driven, academic approach to development is one of the platform’s key marketing points.

What is Cardano?

Drawing on the learnings wrought from developing Bitcoin and Ethereum, Cardano is a so-called “3rd generation” blockchain platform that is powered by an advanced proof of stake mechanism known as Ouroboros, which is used to establish decentralized consensus on the network. In many ways, this technique of establishing consensus is often considered a competitor to Ethereum’s proof of stake methodology.

Cardano’s key differentiator is its highly rigorous, peer-reviewing process for its codebase. In contrast to many blockchain platforms that review and update their codebase based on user behavior and adoption, Cardano leverages its army of academic researchers and developers around the world to put its code through a rigorous peer review process before being deployed on the network.

As of February 2018, Cardano had a market cap of ~$10.5b, making it the 6th largest cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization.

Technology

The investment vehicle of Cardano platform is the ADA token. ADA tokens can be stored on Daedalus (the platform’s official wallet), in addition to a number of other cryptocurrency wallets.

Cardano’s peer-reviewed platform offers several key differentiators which distinguish it from other cryptocurrencies:

  • A smart contract platform that is arguably more advanced than Ethereum’s, powered by Cardano’s revolutionary proof-of-stake mechanism, Ouroboros. The system randomly selects nodes to confirm successive blocks, but token holders can also “vote” for nodes by using their tokens. In this respect at least, Cardano is more advanced than both Bitcoin and Ethereum.
  • The platform leverages an academic, peer review-based approach to development. Many projects struggle to scale using traditional software development approaches, and Cardano’s take on the problem is a unique one. Put another way, the peer-review process goes a long way towards supporting the platform’s legitimacy and the quality of its code.
  • Cardano was not developed as a derivation of an existing blockchain, but was built from the ground up after an in-depth academic review of the strengths and weaknesses of existing blockchains.
  • The platform is looking to allow two parties to conduct a transaction on a “side chain”, which allows a given transaction to essentially be made off the main blockchain, while still being tracked.
  • Following its rigorous approach to code review, Cardano’s proof-of-stake protocol is arguably the only one in the world with mathematically proven security.

In addition, the Cardano platform is fully open-source, and it boasts an active developer community.

Future Plans

In 2018, the Cardano team plans to continue expanding awareness about the platform through its Cardano Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the crypto community about the platform, while coordinating with governments to draft clear regulations around the use of cryptocurrencies. In addition, the foundation will continue collaborating with IOHK to accelerate its R&D efforts on the Cardano Platform.

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