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Basics

  • Based in: Hong Kong
  • Started in: 2017
  • Smart contract platform created "by scientists". Smart contracts are not live yet (7-2021).
  • The team has published a set of other papers, one for a scalable and decentralized randomness algorithm, one for an efficient and decentralized poker protocol, and one for secure sidechains.

History

  • "The name “Cardano” comes from an Italian physician and mathematician born in the year 1501 called Girolamo Cardano, who invented, amongst other things, the combination lock, the solution of the cubic equation, the solution of the quartic equation and also the first systematic computation of probabilities."
  • Created by IOHK (Input Output Hong Kong) Founded in 2015 by Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood, IOHK is a decentralized technology company committed to using peer-to-peer innovations to provide financial services to the three billion people who don’t have them. We are an engineering company that builds cryptocurrencies and blockchains for academic institutions, government entities and corporations.”. In October, 2017, Hoskinson stated that IOHK had nearly 100 employees and contractors, three research engineers, and operate in nearly ten countries.

Audits & Exploits

"The release of Daedalus follows the ubiquitous rollout of the Byron reboot of Cardano's blockchain. A recent third-party security audit commissioned by IOHK revealed 11 potential vulnerabilities in the blockchain. Having resolved the exploits, IOHK chose to publish them in the name of transparency."

“It’s clear they’ve put a lot of internal effort to solidly test and properly engineer the code and it’s really shown through the smooth launch. We also recently audited prysm from eth 2.0 and we would say that in terms of quality, similar to prysm, it is one of the best codebases we have seen.”

Bug/Exploits

Governance

"Cardano intends to provide on-chain mechanisms for making decisions about the future of the protocol. Cardano plans to implement this by creating a constitution that lays out in detail the mechanism for agreeing on protocol updates and a program for creating and voting on Cardano Improvement Proposals in a transparent and censorship-free way.

Cardano hopes to realize a long-term vision of expressing Cardano Improvement Proposals in terms of machine understandable specifications that can be tested and verified using software tools. A less ambitious governance process, which is slated to arrive with the Shelley release of the platform, starts out with IOHK making all improvement proposals and evolves to provide “an increasingly better mechanism for gaining consent for them.”

DAO

"Cardano’s long-term governance vision includes “the creation of a modular regulation DAO that can be customized to interact with user written smart contracts in order to add mutability, consumer protection and arbitration”, however their greatest and most immediate advantage may come from eradicating the need for bail outs in the first place."

Treasury

"The idea, which is not new, is to create a treasury system, funded by transaction fees, to support future development. Stakeholders decide how to spend treasury funds by voting on proposed projects (i.e. Cardano Improvement Proposals)."

Token

ICO

  • Cardano’s ICO took place in 4 stages between September 2015 - January 2017 with heavy Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements. It was marketed as an “investment to retire on” to primarily Japanese investors; in fact, 95% of the buyers were of Japanese origin, primarily in the 35-55 age bracket. 2.56% of buyers were Korean, and 2.39% were Chinese. The ICO oversaw a total sale of approximately 26,000,000,000 of the 45,000,000,000 maximum supply of ADA tokens. At the conclusion of the ICO a total of approximately $63 million USD was raised; this puts the price at an average of $0.00242 per ADA, and the market capitalization immediately after the ICO at approximately $109 million USD.
  • While around 26,000,000,000 ADA was sold in the ICO, an additional 5,185,414,108 ADA were distributed to IOHK, Emurgo, and the Cardano Foundation.
  • A total of 31,112,484,646 ADA was made available at Cardano’s launch.

Token allocation

Utility

  • Utility, staking and governance.

Token Details

  • The smallest unit of ADA (1/1,000,000 ADA) is called a Lovelace. This is in tribute to the first recognized computer programmer, Ada Lovelace.

Stablecoin

"IOHK partnered with Emrugo to launch an algorithmic stablecoin that will "be significantly better than MakerDAO.""

Coin Distribution

"IOHK has publicly shared its ADA address and that one third of the 2,463,071,701 ADA they received (of which ~97.5% is still there) is available immediately, one third is made available on June 1st, 2018 and the final third on June 1st, 2019. While the Cardano Foundation and Emurgo haven’t publicly shared their ADA address, it is believed that Emurgo originally held 2,074,165,643 ADA in this address and the Cardano Foundation originally held 648,176,763 ADA in this address, as the sum of these amounts adds up exactly to the original total. Finally, the remaining 13,887,515,354 ADA of the 45 billion ADA that will ever exist (maximum supply) will be minted as block rewards."

"On 21–1–2019, Binance is the largest ADA holder, despite only one of its addresses being listed here. The ADA addresses of IOHK and the Cardano Foundation are also labelled and visible in the top-5. Based on the number of transactions, it is likely the #4 and #7 listed addresses are also exchanges. On this day, these top-10 ADA holders hold 30% of Cardano’s current supply. If we zoom out using the next two chart-pies, we see that on 21–1–2019, the top 1.34% of all ADA addresses (although keep in mind that this total includes a large number of ‘dust’ addresses as well) hold 22,434,630,873 ADA, which is 72.1% of the current supply."

Tech

  • Programming language used: Built in the Haskell programming language (according to someone in their Telegram chat (14-1-2020), Haskell testnet 'almost live'), which works well for mission-critical code. They are now also working on a Rust project. Update: their Rust was launched 2-10-2018. Cardano’s smart contracts will be written in another language called Plutus, which is available for review here
  • Has talked about multiple different smart contract languages through the years. One of these was Simon (28-12-2017).

"Plutus is a purpose-built development and execution platform using the functional programming language Haskell. Designed to enable the creation of smart contracts on Cardano, Plutus brings the inherent benefits of functional programming – such as reduced ambiguity and easier testing – to smart contracts. During the Goguen era, Plutus will set the stage for smart contracts that are capable of modeling enterprise-level business and finance scenarios. Not only that, but Plutus and Haskell enable the use of the same codebase both on and off-chain, whereas other smart contract implementations often require developers to use two or more different languages, reducing efficiency and increasing the likelihood of costly mistakes."

Transaction Details

How it works

  • Consensus Algorithm: Ouroboros. It works with delegated stake pools. "Research continues (9-2019) following the initial paper and Byron era implementation, with new variants of the protocol developed and published gradually."

"Ouroboros is a provably secure proof of stake algorithm developed by a team of IOHK scientists led by Prof. Aggelos Kiayias. The algorithm is backed by a peer reviewed paper. According to Charles Hoskinson, the founder of Cardano, Ouroboros’s paper was rewritten 8 times."

The name Ouroboros comes from the name of an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail. The symbol originated in ancient Egyptian iconography. The name is fitting for this algorithm, since Ouroboros operates in epochs.

Each Ouroboros epoch contains a fixed number of slots. Each slot represents a new block. The slot leader is an account staking ADA that is responsible for creating the block. Epochs last for 5 days. Slot leaders for an epoch are chosen during the previous epoch. An account’s chance of being chosen is directly tied to the amount of ADA it’s staking.

An account can only participate in staking if it has at least 1% of the total supply of ADA. For the accounts that don’t meet that criteria, staking pools will exist so everyone is compensated for owning ADA. This high minimum staking requirement gives rise to concerns of centralization. An account can only participate in staking if it has at least 1% of the total supply of ADA. At the current market cap of $13 billion, one needs to have $130 million worth of ADA to participate in staking. If you assume Cardano will be successful, this number will be significantly higher. Who will be able to afford $130 million worth of ADA? Sure there will be staking pools but even staking pools encourage the centralization of wealth. Those participating in the pools will most likely have to pay fees to the pool owner.

This minimum balance requirement also means that at most 100 accounts can participate in staking and because of the power law, it will be much less than 100 accounts that will be staking. There will most certainly be a few entities with exponentially large balances of ADA and the minimum balance requirement will only serve to consolidate their power and control.

Ouroboros will initially provide both newly minted ADA and transaction fees as block rewards. When the total supply of ADA reaches 45,000,000,000 block rewards will consist only of transaction fees.

According to IOHK/Cardano Foundation, Ouroboros is the first provably secure proof of stake algorithm. The team behind Cardano has mathematically proven that the algorithm is safe from all the known proof of stake attack methods including grinding attacks, nothing-at-stake attacks, and long range attacks. This safety and security should be a very powerful enterprise selling point for Cardano.

Ouroboros Praos is an initiative to upgrade Ouroboros. Praos is semi-synchronous, doesn’t require a heavy MPC protocol for randomness and encourages the adoption of a quantum resistant signature scheme for input endorsers and slot leaders. Praos allows for shorter block times.

Ouroboros Hydra is another upgrade to Ouroboros that introduces sharding. Sharding allows multiple Ouroboros epochs to run at the same time which significantly increases Cardano’s throughput. One of the hardest things to figure out for sharding is inter-shard communication.

"The design of the Cardano Computation Layer (CCL), Cardano’s smart contracts platform, is heavily focused on making it easier to provide guarantees that a smart contract behaves as designed without hidden vulnerabilities. The CCL consists of two layers: a formally specified virtual machine and language framework, and formally specified languages that facilitate automated verification of human readable smart contract code.

The lowest layer, called IELE, provides a virtual machine designed to make building formal verification tools easy, and a universal language framework for translating smart contracts from higher-level languages into executable instructions. Research and development of IELE is funded by IOHK and led by UIUC Professor and founder of Runtime Verification, Grigore Rosu. Rosu and team are applying insights from their research on KEVM, a formal semantics in the K framework for the Ethereum Virtual Machine, and KLLVM, a formal semantics in K for LLVM, to build a more secure and efficient virtual machine.

Unlike the EVM, which is a stack-based machine, IELE will be a register-based machine, like LLVM. IELE will have an unbounded number of registers and will also support unbounded integers. Avoiding the use of a bounded stack and not having to worry about stack or arithmetic overflow will make specification and verification of smart contracts significantly easier. Like Ethereum, IELE will use gas to limit resource usage and prevent DoS attacks. This presents some challenges to formal verification that are considered “tricky but manageable” by the research team. IELE leverages the K framework to simplify the development of automated tools that verify smart contracts match specifications. This allows IELE to support smart contracts written in any programming language that has a formal semantics in K."

Fees

Upgrades

Ouroboros Hydra

"After working on the project for five years, Cardano finally launched Ouroboros Hydra – its off-chain scalability solution. Using Hydra, developers can build dapps that require low fees or instant transactions."

Shelley

"This upgrade introduces staking, which allows users to invest their ADA cryptocurrency and earn interest. With staking complete, Cardano must now introduce governance features, custom tokens, and applications. Cardano's Shelley mainnet has attracted over 400 pool operators with whom users can stake their funds."

Mary

"“Mary”—named after Frankenstein author Mary Shelley—Cardano’s newest upgrade, goes live at  21:44:51 UTC today. Mary’s main purpose is to transform Cardano into a multi-asset network similar to Ethereum but with some advantages. According to IOHK, the protocol’s developers, users can transact with tokens, but without the need for smart contracts. This means sending a token on Cardano won't be more expensive than sending its native token ADA (unlike with Ethereum). It’s payable in ADA, which is sent alongside the tokens and multiple native tokens can be bundled and sent in one transaction. "

Alonzo

"The official roadmap of the upcoming Alonzo upgrade. The new protocol update will come in the form of a hard fork around July or August, bringing smart contracts to the Cardano blockchain." Some noted that this meant more delays, since Q2 had been the target.

  • Cardano has successfully carried out a hard fork (16-7-2021) and upgraded its testnet from Alonzo Blue to Alonzo White. The final part of the Alonzo upgrade will take place in September 2021.

Staking

Liquidity Mining

Scaling

"Cardano will tackle scaling through an architecture dubbed Hydra. It features protocols with multiple heads, with each potentially able to process an impressive 1,000 transactions per second."

Interoperability

Other Details

  • Uses the Deadalus (is on mainnet, 24-4-2020) and Icarus wallet.
  • "Just like Ethereum has different clients based on Go, Rust, Java, Scala, the same way Cardano has Rust and Haskell based clients. Daedalus uses Haskell node in its back-end, Yoroi uses Rust node in its back-end, because Rust client has Icarus library for light wallets.

"Enterprise accounts (exchanges) will have special wallets that do not allow staking, thus also removing the ability to vote."

Current Testnet Rewards

From this article (18-1-2020):

"The rewards generation is directly dependent on the percentage of network participation.

In case of 50% participation = Annual return for delegation = 7-8%

In case of < 50% participation = Annual return for delegation = 13-15%

For more accurate answers please refer to the rewards calculator on Incentivized Testnet website.

In case of 50% participation = Return Rate for stake pool operators = 10%

(In case 10,000,00 ADA is pledged)

Return Rate for stake pool delegators = 12-13%

According to reports, ADA worth 3.8 million will be distributed as a reward per era."

Oracle Method

Privacy Method

Compliance

Their Other Projects

Roadmap

  • Can be found [Insert link here].
  • Charles Hoskinson announced (12-1-2020) that he was 'very optimistic' about Shelly, Goguen and Voltaire to 'be ready within 2020', and parts of Basho as well. In the same video he also said he made the team have 'Identity' as a main priority, to create 'first class citizens'. Also mentioned wanting to create a DEX and stablecoin.
  • From Decrypt (28-5-2020)

"Charles Hoskinson today announced the launch of Shelley, the latest update for Cardano. It will start rolling out the network between June 30 and July 7. Speaking on a crowdcast update, he provided 11 dates for the release of Shelley. "Guys wanna know when Shelley is? Let's tell ya," he said today. "June 9, this is when it opens up to everybody. The next date we have for you is June 16, that's when we start putting things together end-to-end.""

2020 Outlook

"In early 2018, Hoskinson claimed that by 2019 project Cardano would be:

  1. Fully Decentralized;
  2. Will have smart contracts;
  3. Lots of liquidity;
  4. Multisig paper wallets;
  5. And Hardware Wallet support.

Its 2020 and the project is yet to fulfil all these promises. Nonetheless, it managed to achieve a couple of milestones.

Unarguably, the launch of its incentivized testnet was a tremendous success. Within 24 hours of the testnet going live, 5 billion ADA coins stood staked. And at press time it has already launched over 500 stake pools.

According to the roadmaps and Charles latest tweet, the 2020 focus for the team is:

  1. Smart contracts;
  2. Scalability;
  3. Decentralization;
  4. High assurance;
  5. and Governance."

Old roadmap

  • Cardano used to (2018) lay out three eras in its timeline: the Testnet Era, Bootstrap Era, and Reward Era. The Testnet Era is pretty self-explanatory, Cardano is deployed on a test net. However it has now (9-2019) pivoted to a roadmap of five phases.
  • In the old roadmap Bootstrap Era is when Cardano SL is deployed on the mainnet BUT it is centralized in order to maintain security. Only a fixed, predefined set of users have control over the system. The assumption is that security is poor in this era since people are slow to redeem their ADA coins. For the first few months, stakeholders who jointly possess the majority of the ADA stake are mostly not online yet. The blockchain can be easily attacked if only a small amount of ADA is staked. As consolation to the community, Ouroboros will not provide any block rewards.
  • The Reward Era is when the network is in a completely decentralized and trustless mode. According to Cardano’s website, “the system will receive regular software updates moving forward, and a massive amount of new features will be released” in this era. These features would include upgrades to Ouroboros, Cardano’s consensus algorithm, an implementation of Cardano’s control layer, and sidechains.

New roadmap

  • As of 9-2019 Cardano has a roadmap has been organized into five eras: Byron (2017 untill Q1 of 2019), Shelley (2017-2019), Goguen (2017 until Q1 of 2020), Basho (2019 until Q3 of 2020), and Voltaire (from Q2 of 2018 untill Q4 of 2020). Each era is centered around a set of functionalities that will be delivered across multiple code releases.

Main components of these five era's are:

  1. Bryon: Testnet, the Ouroboros proof-of-stake consensus protocol, ADA cryptocurrency, block explorer, wallets.
  2. Shelley: Stake Pools, Ouroboros Praos (an upgrade), Ouroboros Genesis, Ouroboros-BFT (which they claim is a milestone ahead), hierarchical deterministic (HD) wallets, multi-sig,
  3. Goguen: Plutus, Plutus Core Cardano’s smart contract virtual machine, a multi-currency ledger (ERC20 like), the IELE virtual machine (which as of 9-2019 has been paused) and the KEVM Virtual Machine (which as of 9-2019 has been paused).
  4. Basho: "Scaling" through sidechains as a sharding mechanism. "Sidechains can be used as a sharding mechanism by off-loading work from the main chain onto a sidechain to increase the capacity of the network." Which actually sounds like no actual sharding is happening.
  5. Voltaire: introduction of a voting and treasury system; "To fund the future development of the network, Voltaire will also see the addition of a treasury system, whereby a fraction of all transaction fees will be pooled to provide funds for development activities undertaken following the voting process."

"Cardano, said it is set to launch a hard fork in December as part of the transition to the third development phase of the protocol. Dubbed “Goguen,” the third phase will be focused on the protocol’s integration of smart contracts after building Cardano’s foundation and decentralizing its system in the first two phases. 

The hard fork will introduce the token-locking mechanism, one of its most significant new functions, to the mainnet. It will enable the network’s smart contracts to support certain conditions such as making users hold tokens for a fixed period of time in order to complete a contract. In addition, the upgrade will bring custom tokens into the network besides its native ADA token, Hammond said."

Usage

"Large Transactions have been steady this year

The large transactions (greater than $100k) are always a solid indicator of the health of a crypto asset. The ITB’s large transaction analysis for Cardano shows a relatively “steady” pattern YTD, except for a peak during April, following a bull run in March in which the price reached $0.09.

The Cardano network is growing slowly but it’s active

ITB’s Addresses Metrics indicator shows that 49% of the addresses in the Cardano network are active. Also, during this year, the ratio of new addresses entering the network vs the addresses leaving the network has been slightly positive, but with the launch of Shelley can increase that ratio even more.

Large investors in Cardano are “Hodling

IITB’s Ownership indicators provide a view of a crypto asset’s “capital stack” according to the concentration of the asset. Looking inside Cardano, we can see that there are 42 addresses that hold roughly 40% of the circulating supply.

The interesting thing is, that only 3 of these addresses are actively trading, which means that the other addresses have less than 300 transactions since their creation and plans to hold the token for the long term.

Cardano is more popular in “the West”

At first glance, you may think that Cardano has a global predominance, but ITB’s East vs West analysis shows that the token is slightly more popular in the West."

"The protocol has an average of 220 monthly active core developers, he said, and Cardano has 37,327 commits to its code, compared to 42,457 for Ethereum."

Projects that use or built on it

"The Cardano Foundation announces the live release of a supply chain traceability and anti-counterfeit solution together with Scantrust."

  • There are only a few apps by some estimates (16-7-2021).'
  • Chainlink has partnered with Cardano (26-9-2021).
  • Dish Network; "TV and wireless service provider that will integrate the Cardano blockchain into its telecom business and help provide digital identity services to Dish customers." (26-9-2021).

Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

"It should be noted, that Cardano developments have been slow to materialize with the team, often delaying many of its deadlines. For now, Plutus and the Cardano-based smart contract platform are still expected for this year."

"[The] structure of economic rewards enables the protocol authors to develop several proofs about properties of the system, which has led IOHK to proclaim Ouroboros the “first provably secure proof of stake algorithm.” The safety and liveness proofs presented are based on assumptions of a partially synchronous network with an honest majority and an upper limit on how long honest nodes may be offline. These assumptions may work well for permissioned blockchains and the commercial applications envisioned by Emurgo, but perhaps not as well for a permissionless world computer. The assumptions underpinning Ouroboros security have been criticized as “unrealistic”, “impractical for a global blockchain”, and “way too convenient”."

Competition

  • EOS/Ethereum competitor. There is a long history between Dan Larimer (EOS) and Charles Hoskinson (Cardano). In fact, before Ethereum, Hoskinson actually worked with Larimer on Bitshares but also left on bad terms.
  • Check out this post by Larimer on the flaws of Cardano. Also check out Hoskinson’s rebuttal.
  • Cardano is built as a layered blockchain. The Cardano Settlement Layer (SL) is where account balances and transactions are managed. It uses the UTXO model and is supposed to be the most secure part of the blockchain. The SL is kept apart from the computational layer where smart contracts are executed. This layered architecture gives the system the flexibility to be more easily maintained and allow for upgrades by way of soft forks. In Ethereum, the settlement layer and the computational layer are intertwined.
  • From this article (28-12-2017):

"In contrast to Cardano’s approach, Casper TFG is designed to address the faults that are likely to occur on an open public blockchain, rather than make assumptions that may only hold for permissioned chains.

Whereas Ouroboros and Casper TFG both employ economic rewards to achieve safety and liveness, Casper TFG also incorporates penalties based on fault attribution. Casper TFG is proven safe without any synchrony assumptions and it’s likely to be proven live under partial-synchrony. Moreover Casper TFG assumes no bounds on being offline and addresses attacks from majority coalitions. The design of Casper TFG takes into account faults that are likely to occur on an open public blockchain, rather than making assumptions that may only hold for permissioned chains. Neither Ouroboros nor Casper TFG has been deployed on an open public blockchain with significant assets at stake."

Cardano vs. Ethereum 2.0

Team, investors, partners

Team

"There are three organisations that are contributing to the development of Cardano. The first is the Cardano Foundation, an independent standards body based in Switzerland with core responsibilities to support the community of Cardano users and to work with authorities on regulatory and commercial matters. The second entity working on Cardano is IOHK, a leading cryptocurrency research and development company, which holds the contract to develop the platform until 2020. The final business partner is Emurgo, which invests in start-ups and assists commercial ventures to build on the Cardano blockchain."

Partners

  • Decided to partner up with Ripple and NEM creating Blockchain in Europe
  • BP has said it will use/built upon Cardano among other chains.
  • From this article (18-1-2020): "Last year Cardano entered into a strategic partnership with Sportswear giant New Balance. And it also signed an MOU with Ethiopia to build a cryptocurrency for the nation."
  • From CoinDesk (14-2-2020):

"IOHK has established a research center at the University of Wyoming (UW) after making a $500,000 donation in the ADA cryptocurrency. As part of its collaboration with UW, IOHK has also provided a $500,000 grant in ADA to fund research and development into new blockchain applications, including new traceability tools and supply chain management."

Cardano Foundation

Basics

  • "An independent standards body based in Switzerland with core responsibilities to support the community of Cardano users and to work with authorities on regulatory and commercial matters."

Team

  • Parsons, Michael; Chairman (not on the website anymore as of 9-2019)
  • Nathan Kaiser; Chairperson and general counsel of IOHK (on the website as of 9-2019)
  • Domino Burki; Council Member and Treasurer (on the website as of 9-2019)
  • Manmeet Singh; Council Member and Vice Chairperson (on the website as of 9-2019) also CIO of Emurgo
  • O’connor, John ; head of communications (not on the website anymore as of 9-2019)
  • Kelly, Tom; Marketing & Community (not on the website anymore as of 9-2019)
  • McDowall, Bob; special advisor, a former Member of the States of Alderney, one of the Channel Islands (not on the website anymore as of 9-2019)
  • Wagendorp, Steve; delivery assurance manager, "Steve joined the Cardano Foundation having recently managed operations for an asset manager in Zurich focusing on fund administration, compliance, regulatory matters and IT. As a technology enthusiast, he developed a natural interest in blockchain technology and decentralised application development. Steve graduated from the university of Cape Town with a degree in Geomatics engineering" (still on the website as of 9-2019)
  • "Pascal Schmid has resigned from the Cardano Foundation Council at his own will – effective immediately. He joined the Council in June 2018 as its Member, a position he held for a year until his resignation."

cFund

  • cFund, the Cardano ecosystem venture fund.

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