Have you heard the term Polkadot recently and aspiring to know more about it? Here we bring a detailed introduction to the Polkadot blockchain. Let’s learn it!

It is quite inevitable that we come across technologies that are under the control of a specific assortment of companies. Generally, the companies include larger enterprises with interest and incentives that are generally conflicting with that of customers. Most of the time, you might have agreed to the terms and conditions of a specific application without even viewing them. Therefore, companies have better control over the data we create in each interaction with their proprietary software. 

Therefore, decentralized and open source technologies have gained prolific value in recent times, as could be witnessed in blockchain technology. The arrival of the Polkadot blockchain creates some doubts regarding its role in the broader blockchain ecosystem. The following discussion helps you find out a detailed impression of Polkadot and how it could bring new perspectives on blockchain technology.

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What is Polkadot?

One of the first concerns in any introduction to Polkadot would obviously refer to the definition. Only after knowing ‘what is Polkadot’ you can move towards a detailed overview of elements in its architecture. In addition, a detailed understanding of Polkadot roles would also showcase an important highlight of its functioning. Basically, Polkadot blockchain is a next-generation blockchain protocol designed for combining a whole network of purpose-specific blockchains. 

The interesting highlight about Polkadot is that it allows seamless operation of the blockchains together with the desired scalability. Since Polkadot enables the transfer of any type of data across any type of blockchain, it could open up the possibilities for various real-world use cases. Most important of all, Polkadot combines the best functionalities of different specialized blockchains for creating new opportunities for the arrival of new decentralized marketplaces. The new blockchain platform could enable better approaches for accessing services through different apps and providers. 

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History of Polkadot

Before diving further into details about the Polkadot ecosystem, let us take a look at the history of Polkadot. Polkadot has been developed by Parity Technologies under the leadership of Gavin Wood and Jutta Steiner. Both of them have already served as Ethereum executives. Most important of all, the Polkadot project also has the support of the Web3 Foundation. The Web3 Foundation emphasizes profoundly offering funding, advocacy, and research benefits along with collaborations. 

Parity started off in 2015 and started working on node software for Ethereum, termed as Parity Ethereum Client. However, Parity shifted focus from that project towards Polkadot and another related project, Substrate. So, the journey of Polkadot started off in November 2017 with developers publishing the first code on GitHub. Subsequently, the company introduced two proofs-of-concept in 2018, followed by deploying the first parachain of Polkadot in July 2018. 

Polkadot was officially launched in an ‘initial’ state in May 2020, and only a few months later, it enabled token transfers in August 2020. The relay chain of Polkadot had not been activated in September 2020, and the chain auctions are also not alive yet. 

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What is Special about Polkadot?

Even if many people ask this question about the Polkadot blockchain, very few attempts to find out what it truly means; blockchain applications could have offered promising results in different fields such as identity management, asset tracking, finance, IoT, governance, and web decentralization. 

However, the design limitations in existing systems could present profound obstacles for the large-scale adoption of blockchain technology. The design of Polkadot presents better advantages than the existing networks. Let us reflect on the value Polkadot brings to the blockchain landscape.

  • Heterogeneous Sharding 

Blockchain applications have to make certain tradeoffs for accommodating certain features and use cases. In addition, the increasing chain specialization would imply growth in their need for transactions between each other. The Polkadot chart indicates that it is a sharded blockchain connecting different chains in a specific network. It should allow the different chains to process transactions simultaneously with each other. 

At the same time, Polkadot can also enable flexible exchanging of data between chains with the assurance of security. The unique heterogeneous sharding model of Polkadot ensures that each chain in the network could be optimized for particular use cases rather than following the one-size-fits-all approach. The support for additional chains and flexibility for specialization on Polkadot blockchain creates additional possibilities for innovation.

  • Scalability 

It is important to note that one blockchain platform could not support the continuously evolving assortment of decentralized applications. With the restricted throughput and lower runtime specialization with early blockchains, scaling is practically impossible in different real-world use cases. 

The Polkadot ecosystem brings various specialized chains into a particular sharded network and then ensures parallel processing of multiple transactions. The system could be helpful in removing bottlenecks that were evident on conventional networks which carried out transaction processing one by one. 

Polkadot could also deliver on promises of scalability with a new feature known as nested relay chains. The nested relay chains could help in increasing the number of shards you can add to the network.

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  • Scope for Forkless Upgrades

Another important highlight in a Polkadot chart would refer to forkless upgrades. Apps, browsers, and games are receiving updates frequently, and many of them go through the process automatically. Generally, developers work on fixing bugs before they result in problems. Over the course of time, new features are added to the application with the increasing availability of better solutions. Just like other software, blockchain solutions would need upgrades for maintaining relevance. On the other hand, upgrading blockchains could be quite a difficult job.

Polkadot helps in revolutionizing the process of blockchain upgrades by introducing forkless updates. It could help blockchains in upgrading without any need for forking the chain. The transparent on-chain governance system of Polkadot helps in implementing the upgrades. The forkless upgrade feature in Polkadot ensures that projects have better agility. In addition, the upgrade ensures that projects are capable of adapting and evolving in accordance with the progress of technology. Most important of all, the Polkadot blockchain also reduces the risks related to contentious hard forks.          

  • Transparent Governance

The Polkadot platform also caters to one of the prominent issues with conventional blockchain platforms. The earlier blockchain platforms did not have any formal governance procedures. Individual stakeholders did not have any power to propose or vetoing the protocol modifications without the right contacts. So, what is special about Polkadot? 

Polkadot enables governance privileges for any individual with ownership of DOT, the native currency of Polkadot. Different DOT holders could present suggestions for changing the protocol or vote on the existing proposals. In addition, they could help in electing the council members representing passive stakeholders in the governance system of Polkadot. 

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  • Collaborative Design

The final and most important aspect which showcases what is Polkadot and how it will change the way we see blockchain is cross-chain compatibility. Previously, blockchains worked as walled cities which did not have access to other networks. However, cross-chain communication and interoperability are the need of the hour. 

The cross-chain interoperability and message transfer could help shards in communication, exchanging value, and sharing functionality, with better scope for innovation. Polkadot delivers profound advantages in bridging blockchains which helps Polkadot shards in interacting with popular DeFi protocols and virtual assets on external networks.

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What Helps Polkadot Deliver So Many Functionalities?

The easiest answer to this question directly rests in the architecture of Polkadot. A proper connection of all dots on a Polkadot chart depicting its architecture can shed light further on its functionality. Polkadot combines a network of heterogeneous blockchain shards referred to as parachains. 

The parachains connect to the Polkadot Relay Chain, which also takes care of their security. In addition, the parachains could also establish connections with external networks through bridges. Here are the important elements in Polkadot architecture which define its functionality.

  • Relay Chain

The Relay Chain is the most critical component of Polkadot. It takes care of the security, cross-chain interoperability, and consensus aspects of the Polkadot network. 

  • Parachains

Basically sovereign blockchains with their own tokens and capabilities for optimizing their functionalities to fit particular use cases. Parachains could follow the pay-as-you-go model for connecting to the Relay Chain or lease a slot to ensure continuous connectivity.

  • Bridges

They are special blockchains tailored for enabling Polkadot shards for connecting to and communicating with external networks such as Ethereum.

  • DOT Token

Another significant element in the understanding of the Polkadot blockchain is the native token, DOT. It is capable of addressing the important functions such as,

  • Governance of the network
  • Staking
  • Bonding

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Final Words

It is quite evident that Polkadot would bring a new way to use blockchain networks. The understanding of what is Polkadot gives the foundation to start deciphering its value advantages. Different industries are recognizing the value of blockchain and turning towards many new blockchain platforms for specific use cases. 

Polkadot could help you cover the working of multiple blockchains to help you get the best of every blockchain. In the long run, the developers of Polkadot would continue to refine its various functionalities and present better versions. Polkadot is capable of giving a true definition of decentralization in the use of blockchain. Get ahead to learn more about Polkadot in detail!

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*Disclaimer: The article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide any investment advice. Claims made in this article do not constitute investment advice and should not be taken as such. 101 Blockchains shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this article. Do your own research!