Interoperability and why it matters; an introduction to Polkadot Parachains, Parathreads, Bridges, the Relay Chain, and how it all works
Polkadot is the flagship project by Web3 Foundation to facilitate a fully functional and user-friendly decentralized web. Researchers from Inria Paris and ETH Zurich, developers from Parity Technologies, Gavin Wood (Co-Founder of Ethereum), and partners such as Polychain Capital are developing a realization of Web3 with Polkadot at its core.
The Polkadot Mission
Polkadot will enable a decentralized web where users are in control rather than large institutions and big tech that can violate our trust.
Polkadot Mission Statement: We envision a Web where our identity and our data is our own – safely secured from any central authority.
Polkadot is built to transfer any type of data across any type of blockchain – private chains, public permissionless blockchains, oracles, smart contracts, bridges, and future technologies that are yet to be created. Polkadot connects independent blockchains and facilitates exchange of data and transactions in a trustless way via the Polkadot relay chain.
Polkadot is an interoperability blockchain that connects other blockchains (or networks) together. Interoperability is essentially the ability to see and access information across various networks. For example, Bitcoin and Ethereum are independent blockchains running separately from one another. The ability of decentralized networks to communicate with one another without the need of a trusted third party will go a long way in giving rise to fully decentralized systems and accelerate mass adoption.
The Relay Chain is the core of Polkadot, responsible for the network’s shared security, consensus, and cross-chain interoperability.
These are sovereign blockchains that can have their own tokens and be optimized for specific use cases.
Parathreads are similar to parachains but with a pay-as-you-go model. They are more economical for blockchains that don’t need continuous connectivity to the network.
Bridges allow parachains and parathreads to connect and communicate with external networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Building on Polkadot
- Smart contract chains with WebAssembly smart contracts (Edgeware, Charred Cherry testnet)
- Data curation networks that connect all file storage chains into curated data sets (Ocean Protocol)
- Oracle chains that make off-chain data available to all contracts on the Polkadot network (ChainLink)
- Identity chains that link accounts to a persistent identity and enable access to other parachains through fewer accounts (Speckle OS)
- Financial chains that allow you to hold all your assets in one portfolio, including via bridges to Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin and ZCash (ChainX, Katallassos)
- Internet of Things chains that set IoT standards for machine-to-machine communication (MXC Protocol)
- Zero Knowledge Privacy Chains, or bridges to existing ZK-snarks chains (e.g. Zerochain)
- File storage chains that incentivize storing data on-chain
- Bridge to Ethereum, allowing Ethereum smart contracts to interact with the Polkadot network
What’s Next with Polkadot
Related: Using Math Wallet on Polkadot
Related: Quick Look at Polkadot $DOT
Current Phase: Parachain Rollout
Before being enabled by Polkadot’s network governance, parachains will be tested and optimized both on parachain testnets and on Kusama. Once the code has been fully tested, audited and benchmarked, and parachains are running smoothly, Polkadot governance can enable parachains and begin parachain slot lease auctions. Parachain slots will be auctioned one-by-one, with each auction lasting about two weeks.
After the parachain rollout, the network’s launch will officially be complete. How the network evolves from there is up to the network’s on-chain governance community. The potential to create fair, free, open financial markets, take back control of our data, and much more is not only possible but is being built now on Polkadot.