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Polkadot is an open-source sharding multichain protocol that facilitates the cross-chain transfer of any data or asset types, not just tokens, thereby making a wide range of blockchains interoperable with each other.
This interoperability seeks to establish a fully decentralized and private web, controlled by its users, and simplify the creation of new applications, institutions and services.
The Polkadot protocol connects public and private chains, permissionless networks, oracles and future technologies, allowing these independent blockchains to trustlessly share information and transactions through the Polkadot relay chain (explained further down).
Polkadot’s native DOT token serves three clear purposes: providing network governance and operations, and creating parachains (parallel chains) by bonding.
Polkadot has four core components:
Polkadot was founded by the Web3 Foundation, a Swiss Foundation founded to facilitate a fully functional and user-friendly decentralized web, as an open-source project.
Its founders are Dr. Gavin Wood, Robert Habermeier and Peter Czaban.
Wood, the Web3 Foundation’s president, is the most well-known of the trio thanks to his industry influence as Ethereum co-founder, Parity Technologies founder and the creator of the smart contract coding language Solidity.
Habermeier is a Thiel Fellow and accomplished blockchain and cryptography researcher and developer. Czaban is the Web3 Foundation’s Technology Director. With a wealth of experience across highly specialized fintech industries, he is currently helping to develop a new generation of distributed technology.
Polkadot is a sharded multichain network, meaning it can process many transactions on several chains in parallel (“parachains”). This parallel processing power improves scalability.
Custom blockchains are quick and easy to develop through the Substrate framework and can be connected to Polkadot’s network within minutes. The network is also highly flexible and adaptive, allowing the sharing of information and functionality between participants similar to apps on a smartphone. Polkadot can be automatically upgraded without the need for a fork in order to implement new features or remove bugs.
The network has a highly sophisticated user-driven governance system that also helps to secure it. Communities can customize their blockchain’s governance on Polkadot based on their needs and evolving conditions. Nominators, validators, collators and fishermen all fulfil various duties to help secure and maintain the network and eradicate bad behavior.
Polkadot currently has an allocation of 1 billion DOT tokens, following the network’s redenomination from an initial maximum supply of 10 million in August 2020. The redenomination was undertaken purely to avoid the use of small decimals and make calculation easier. While all balances were increased by a factor of one hundred, this did not impact the distribution of DOT or holders’ proportional share.
Polkadot’s mass interoperability through a set of common validators helps to secure its multiple blockchains and allows them to scale their transactions by spreading their data across many parachains.
The network uses the NPoS (nominated proof-of-stake) mechanism to select validators and nominators and maximize chain security.
This unique validity scheme enables chains to interact with each other securely under the same rules, yet remain independently governed.