You may have heard of Polkadot (or DOT) before in the blockchain world, but how does it fit into the current state of next-generation blockchain infrastructure? Here are the basics of Polkadot, explained.
What is Polkadot?
Polkadot was launched in 2020 as a blockchain protocol that ties several chains to a central network, effectively allowing different blockchains to work together. While individual blockchains are often impractical and can only really offer one or two unique features, Polkadot aims to fix that.
For example, say you are using one blockchain that is experiencing delays or has high transaction fees. That chain may not be practical for something that you need to do frequently, but you also might not want to try and use another since information is not shared between them.
Polkadot is meant to fix this by allowing them to interact with one another as well as giving them more control over which chains they are using. In theory, this means that there would be no issue working with two blockchains at once.
DOT is the Polkadot token used for network governance and various other blockchain-related functions.
How Does Pokladot Work?
Polkadot is still being developed like most blockchains are, but the basic functions are there. The goal of Polkadot is to allow companies (or individuals) to connect individual chains and create ‘parachains’ that can send Proof-of-Stake validation between networks with ease.
Right now, Poadot uses a relay chain system. This coordinates the rest of the infrastructure and makes sure that all related chains are correct, right down to the transaction amounts and the details of who is paying who.
This relies on various roles: validators, nominators, collaters, and ‘fishermen.’ These roles are vital in creating a secure network that can still operate properly.
Parachains are, effectively, custom blockchains that are loosely tied to other blockchains. These take computing power from the relay chains to validate transactions and are optimized (or can be optimized) for specific things.
There are also parathreads, which are similar to parachains but on a different ‘tier.’ These are pay-as-you-go and are meant to be used by groups that need a smaller-scale chain with a lower payment barrier to use.
Bridges are like the connectors, helping the DOT network engage with other blockchains. For example, a bridge would be needed to collect Etherum to Polkadot, or the other way around. However, Polkadot can freely connect to chains and parachains in its own network.
Why use Polkadot?
Even with the current state of Polkadot explained, it might not be immediately obvious why it is a good thing. However, it makes sense once you understand scalability.
Polkadot is governed by all stakeholders and can engage with almost any other chain, whereas most blockchains are not scalable. Larger chains get more attention, so new chains do not grow – but Polkadot allows them all to interact, fixing that problem.
This means that existing networks get less strain and new networks are able to grow since the spread of users is more balanced. Nobody will stick to the popular networks exclusively since they can work with all networks connected to Polkadot.