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Cardano is a public, open-source blockchain for building and running smart contracts and other decentralized protocols. The project was built from the ground-up by a team led by Charles Hoskinson , a co-founder of Ethereum. In contrast to many blockchains, Cardano did not kick off with a white paper. But it was the first blockchain to be peer-reviewed and developed by academic experts in the field.
Bitcoin was created to eliminate a central authority in verifying transactions. Due to its simple design, it was very secure.
Cardano is part of the so-called third generation in blockchain technology, which includes platforms like Polkadot and Cosmos. Aside from scalability, third-generation platforms like Cardano also seek to address interoperability and sustainability issues that plagued the earlier generations.
Cardano is supported by the same-named foundation that aids the research and development of the protocol and its community. The Cardano project’s development is spearheaded by the for-profit company Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK). Hoskinson also heads IOHK. The project signed up leading academics in several universities worldwide to review their work before announcing Cardano to the world.
Cardano has been different from other blockchain projects from the start. In lieu of publishing a white paper, Cardano adopted a collection of unique design principles, engineering best practices, and created avenues for continued exploration to achieve its goals. This decision has seen the Ethereum challenger gaining global prominence in a few short years. The project remains entirely open source and unpatented.
The Cardano blockchain is stratified into two layers, the Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) and the Cardano Computational Layer (CCL).
The CSL is Cardano’s balance ledger. Using a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm (Ouroboros protocol) to generate new blocks and confirm transactions.
This layer is operated separately from the settlement layer to afford flexibility if the need for changes arises. It’s off-chain protocol allows it to offer greater data storage flexibility and an access model that lets users create customized rules when validating transactions.
What the Cardano team did with the Ouroboros is to divide physical time into epochs made of slots. These so-called epochs operate in an annular fashion whereby when one epoch ends; another comes online. This helps to reduce network congestion and save on gas fees.
The epochs are divided further, with each having a slot leader chosen by other nodes. These slot leaders will see the creation and confirmation of transaction blocks to be added to the blockchain. If the selected slot leader cannot create a transaction block in an epoch, the next slot leader will have a go.
Input Output Hong Kong is a for-profit company that supports Cardano. Signing a multi-year contract with blockchain company Emurgo , the company aims to promote better financial inclusion and Hoskinson has spoken widely about Cardano’s uses cases in Africa and ambitions for helping lift the world’s poor .
The Cardano Foundation is an independent Swiss-based non-profit that aims to “standardise, protect and promote” Cardano’s technology through building partnerships with other companies as well as aiming to help shape legislation that affect the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.
Cardano developers can now create custom tokens or import projects from other blockchains into the Cardano network. This could be beneficial for new and interesting projects such in the DeFi and NFT ecosystem.
While Cardano is innovating, other blockchain platforms — including Ethereum — are in a race to work out issues like scalability and sustainability as well.
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