What is Cardano (ADA)? A Peer-Reviewed Third-Generation Blockchain Platform
Cardano is an open source, layered smart-contract and dApp platform developed by industry leading academics and run by three synergistic organizations; The Cardano Foundation, Emurgo and IOHK.
The Cardano project is widely considered as a ‘third generation’ blockchain platform, building on top of the foundations of Bitcoin’s electronic P2P cash system with its own ‘ADA’ cryptocurrency, as well as Ethereum’s smart contracts and decentralized applications with its own scalable smart contract and dApp platform.
Leading the Cardano development front is IOHK, a blockchain engineering company founded by former Ethereum co-creators Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood.
Emurgo, a Japan-based business integration and incubation company, is the venture capital arm of Cardano and is tasked with promoting commercial adoption and helping new tech startups incorporate Cardano’s blockchain technology.
The Cardano Foundation is the project’s non-profit regulatory and compliance body, focused on serving the growing Cardano community and ensuring the project remains adherent to principal standards and international regulations.
ADA Cryptocurrency and Consensus Mechanism
ADA is the native cryptocurrency that fuels the Cardano settlement layer, and was designed to address the fundamental problems that have so far prevented Bitcoin from being a mainstream electronic payment system - scalability and sustainability. There is a maximum supply of 45 billion ADA, of which 57.77% was sold during the project’s ICO that took place over four separate stages from 2015 through early 2017.
Transactions on the Cardano blockchain will soon be validated using an academically reviewed Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism called ‘Ouroboros’, which was developed by IOHK Chief Scientist Professor Aggelos Kiayias. This is the first ‘provably secure’ PoS system that has been created in the blockchain technology space and is a marked improvement on the highly inefficient and costly Proof-of-Work consensus mechanism that Bitcoin, Ethereum and many other projects utilize today. Before this mechanism can be fully implemented, the Cardano SL will first utilize a delegated PoS system to trial the technology, where elected delegates will initially perform the role of slot leaders and distribute fee rewards among its pool members.
What Makes Cardano Different from Other Projects
One of the key differences that makes Cardano unique from other market competitors is how it uses Haskell and a newly developed ‘Plutus’ language instead of more commonly used programming languages, because the team believes this particular type of functional programming language produces a more secure, robust and resilient code base. While Haskell is used to code Cardano, the team went on to create Plutus - a ‘fairly Haskell-like’ language - to write interoperable smart contracts.
Cardano has also created a new domain-specific language called ‘Marlowe’ which is based on algebraic Haskell principles with ‘executable small-step semantics’. This language will be used for financial institution smart contract creation, and is a much more simplistic and easier transitioning language for non-programmers to use.
Cardano is also one of the few peer-reviewed and academically accredited projects in the crypto space, with over 31 technical papers published to date.