Cardano is a blockchain platform known for its sustainable and scalable design. It offers a wide range of capabilities, including network delegation, sidechains, and lightweight client data structures. Cardano’s modular approach allows for continuous upgrades and improvements. The network employs a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism called Ouroboros and has its native cryptocurrency called ADA.
Cardano emerged from peer-reviewed academic research, setting it apart from many other blockchain projects. Unlike Bitcoin and Ethereum, Cardano does not rely on a single white paper but is based on a series of scholarly articles. It positions itself as a “third-generation” protocol, aiming to improve upon the shortcomings of earlier generations. The project is named after Gerolamo Cardano, an Italian Renaissance mathematician, and its native currency, ADA, is named after Ada Lovelace, a 19th-century mathematician and the world’s first computer programmer.
Cardano is supported by three organizations: IOHK, The Cardano Foundation, and Emurgo. IOHK, founded by Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood, is a blockchain research and development firm with a contract to work on Cardano from 2015 to 2020.
Cardano consists of two layers: the Settlement Layer (CSL) and the Computation Layer (CCL). The CSL is responsible for settling transactions using ADA, the network’s native currency. On the other hand, the CCL supports smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps). Cardano’s layered protocol enhances its ability to adopt protocol updates and soft forks smoothly. The blockchain is developed using Haskell, a robust and functional programming language. Smart contracts are built using Plutus, another programming language that allows for the creation of more secure and robust contracts.
Cardano has a total supply limit of 45 billion ADA. Currently, approximately 31 billion ADA is in circulation, leaving 14 billion ADA for network incentives. Cardano’s incentive systеm compensates for the reduced capacity for monetary expansion as network usage grows. As more users participate in the network, incentives increase, promoting network growth and security.
Cardano is transitioning to a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus mechanism known as Ouroboros during the “Shelley” phase. Ouroboros aims to provide a modularized design and enhanced network security. It enables network delegation, sidechains, and lightweight client data structures. Slot leaders, selected by token owners with substantial stakes in the network, participate in the Ouroboros consensus. They work in epochs to listen for and confirm transactions and create blocks. Input endorsers, another group of stakeholders, confirm the transactions included in blocks. Cardano’s scalable design allows for the expansion of the number of slots per epoch and the concurrent operation of multiple epochs, ensuring scalability as the network grows.
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