On Friday (31 December 2021), British computer scientist Dr. Gavin Wood, co-founder of Ethereum ($ETH), Polkadot ($DOT), and Kusama ($KSM), talked about “what the Polkadot project achieved over 2021” and what lies ahead in 2022.
Here is an overview of Polkadot using information from the Polkadot website:
“Polkadot is a network protocol that allows arbitrary data—not just tokens—to be transferred across blockchains. This means Polkadot is a true multi-chain application environment where things like cross-chain registries and cross-chain computation are possible. Polkadot can transfer this data across public, open, permissionless blockchains as well as private, permissioned blockchains.
“This makes it possible to build applications that get permissioned data from a private blockchain and use it on a public blockchain. For instance, a school’s private, permissioned academic records chain could send a proof to a degree-verification smart contract on a public chain.“
Polkadot “unites a network of heterogeneous blockchains called parachains and parathreads.” These chains “connect to and are secured by the Polkadot Relay Chain” and they can “also connect with external networks via bridges.”
And here is what Binance Academy says about Polkadot’s parachains and Relay Chain:
“An individual blockchain in the Polkadot ecosystem is called a parachain (parallel blockchain), while the main chain is called the Relay Chain. The idea is that parachains and the Relay Chain can easily exchange information at all times. You could think of parachains as being similar to individual shards in the planned implementation of ETH 2.0.
“Any developer, company, or individual can spin up their custom parachain through Substrate, a framework for creating cryptocurrencies and decentralized systems. Once the custom chain is connected to the Polkadot network, it becomes interoperable with all other parachains on the network.“
As for the use cases for the $DOT token, Binance Academy has this to say:
“Similar to most other blockchain infrastructure projects, Polkadot has its own native token. Known as DOT, it serves as the network token, just like ETH is the token for Ethereum and BTC is the token of Bitcoin.
“Several use cases exist for this token. First of all, it grants token holders with governance rights of the entire Polkadot platform. This includes determining network fees, voting on overall network upgrades, and the deployment or removal of parachains.
“DOT is also designed to facilitate network consensus through staking. Similar to other networks that involve staking, all DOT holders are incentivized to play by the rules at all times. How come? Well, if they don’t, they could lose their stake.
“The third option is to use DOT for bonding. This is required when new parachains are added to the Polkadot ecosystem. During a bonding period, the bonded DOT is locked. It’s released once the bond duration has ended and the parachain is removed from the ecosystem.“
Below are key extracts from Dr. Wood’s blog post on some of the most important achievements of 2021 and the main areas of work for 2022.
Size of Polkadot’s Source Code
“Even at its core it’s likely that Polkadot is topping two million lines of code spread across implementations, tools, user-interfaces and key features, which perhaps should not be so surprising given the overall ambition of the project, but still a staggering amount of coding done since last year when I estimated it at around 600 thousand.“
Staking on Polkadot
“Last year we had around six thousand individual accounts on Polkadot place nominations, helping economically secure the Polkadot network. This year, alongside improvements to Substrate’s staking logic, over twenty thousand accounts on Polkadot elect a total of 297 validators to maintain the network securely.“
Kusama and Polkadot Usage
“At the end of this year, we see 31 Substrate-based mainnets now live. The various parachains on Polkadot and Kusama have almost 3 million user accounts created and are being run by 6,000 validators. 540 forkless upgrades have now been administered, most of which through decentralised governance processes.“
“We had an incredible year seeing the rollout of Parachains, Slot Auctions and Crowdloans across not just one but two Relay-chain networks: Kusama coming live early in the year and Polkadot following up in December...
“On block #7,229,126 the nodes of the Polkadot mainnet each upgraded to runtime version 9110 on the back of a binding, decentralized voting process. In a world-first on several levels, several thousand nodes spread across the world run by thousands of different people, went from maintaining a “normal” mono-chain to helping run a sharded, heterogeneous multi-chain in as much time as it took to author and create the next block — about six seconds...
“Polkadot completed its first five auctions and saw them each launch days ago, completing the final stage of its launch process. All in all, well over one hundred million DOT (106m, representing a whopping 9% of total supply) has been locked up for two years in order to lease out these first few slots.“
Substrate Builders Program
“Substrate Builders Program is rocking away: 163 new teams applied for a place on the program over 2021 with 36 being lucky to get accepted for a spot. Over the year 53 technical reviews were conducted for teams in the program with eleven teams completing all milestones set.“
More Polkadot Parachain Slots Going Live
“We’ll see the prospect of scaled hyper-connectivity under a single security umbrella which Polkadot provides come to life as the more parachain teams win auctions and join the Polkadot party. With more than 150 chains serving a variety of purposes under development, many of which already with test-nets, there is much to anticipate.“
“We also have the launch of decentralized bridges to look forward to, initially Parity’s bridge which will connect Polkadot to Kusama, and later Snowfork’s which will connect Polkadot to Ethereum.“
Code and Technology Improvements
“On the core side, we will be spending some time refactoring and optimizing the code, and introducing new technology which will help reduce costs and latency associated with message passing.
“Our goal with this is to allow each one of Polkadot’s parachains to push upwards towards our 1,000 sTPS per-shard target. (sTPS is our standard Transactions Per Second, a cross chain standard in what counts as a transaction, and basically means a balance-transfer from one pre-existing account to another pre-existing account with neither account having been read from or written to in the block.)“
Parathreads are “an idea for parachains to temporarily participate (on a block by block basis) in Polkadot security without needing to lease a dedicated parachain slot” — something which is “done through economically sharing the scarce resource of a parachain slot among several competing resources (parathreads).” Chains that otherwise would not be able to acquire a full parachain slot or do not find it economically sensible to do so, are enabled to participate in Polkadot’s shared security — albeit with an associated fee per executed block. It also offers a graceful off-ramp to parachains that no longer require a dedicated parachain slot, but would like to continue using the Relay Chain.
Wood says tha “the Polkadot team’s efforts will be focussed on the parathread feature, allowing teams who do not win an auction to still ensure they have the security guaranteed by Polkadot and get all the benefits of XCMP.”
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