What is Polkadot? A Beginner’s Guide on the Blockchain Super City

Polkadot connects totally different particular person blockchains right into a single community; it needs to do to the blockchain what the Internet did for solitary computer systems worldwide. 

Polkadot was based by Dr. Gavin Wood, Robert Habermeier, and Peter Czaban below the Web3 Foundation, a Swiss basis devoted to facilitating a user-friendly and absolutely purposeful decentralized net. 

Wood is a Thiel Fellow and famend technologist and has an intensive resume within the cryptocurrency and blockchain house– he’s an Ethereum co-founder, founding father of Parity Technologies, and the creator of sensible contract programming language Solidity. 

Habermeier, additionally a Thiel Fellow, is a good blockchain and cryptography developer. 

Czaban is the Technology Director of the Web3 Foundation. 

Polkadot was first proposed in a whitepaper on November 14, 2016, as a method to resolve lots of the urgent problems with the varied blockchains on the time. 

Why is Polkadot particular?

Polkadot can course of a number of transactions on a number of totally different blockchains in parallel utilizing its “Parachain” characteristic. Dubbed a sharded multichain community, Polkadot can assist blockchains comparable to Ethereum grow to be extra scalable. Further, customers can add customized blockchains to the Polkadot community with little to no friction. 

To higher perceive Polkadot’s worth add, it’s finest to discover the varied points which have restricted and restricted blockchains. Let’s dive into our Polkadot information. 

Issue #1: Scalability.

Most in style blockchains aren’t scalable as a result of their construction. 

For instance, as soon as upon a time, it value only a few pennies to a couple {dollars} ETH equal to transact on Ethereum, the world’s hottest blockchain. Today, Ethereum fuel charges have been as excessive as $250+. 

The majority of blockchains stumble upon scaling points in a technique or one other. It’s not possible to hurry up transactions, and because the demand for transaction processing will increase, every transaction begins to value extra. 

Bitcoin, which is established as a medium to switch worth peer-to-peer, can solely course of 4.5 transactions per second. 

Ethereum, launched as Blockchain 2.0, fares a bit higher at about 12 transactions per second. 

In comparability, Visa/Mastercard processes upwards of two,500 transactions each second. 

The sluggish processing of funds is without doubt one of the primary obstacles for Bitcoin and different cryptocurrencies in changing into business strategies of cost.

Issue #2: No or Limited Communication and Interchanging of Data.

Dozens of blockchains had been created in isolation, and it’s not potential for them to speak or change worth between one another. For instance, you may’t ship BTC on the ETH community. Even with DeFi providers that permit for working throughout a number of currencies and blockchains, oracle providers like ChainLink should be used to get correct real-time knowledge on every coin’s present worth.

Issue #3: Lack of Customization.

Until the arrival of Ethereum, blockchains didn’t help any customization of the switch of worth from one proprietor to a different. Bitcoin, for instance, solely allowed for peer-to-peer transactions. Smart Contracts made it potential to customise and program what may be achieved on a blockchain, to a restricted extent. 

How Does Polkadot Solve These Problems?

Most blockchains are inclined to do one single factor very effectively. As person adoption will increase, many blockchains are pushed to maneuver away from specialization into generalization to remain aggressive. 

Adding new options on prime of legacy blockchains tends to value considerably extra community sources and often isn’t very efficient. 

Polkadot is a blockchain community that makes a speciality of underlying processes comparable to interoperability and communication, safety, scalability, and transaction verification. 

By utilizing Polkadot, different cryptocurrency initiatives with their very own blockchains can give attention to their core specialty, somewhat than constructing sub-par options for integration and scalability. 

How Does Polkadot Work? 

Polkadot leverages 4 main elements to perform its objectives: Relay Chain, Parachains, Parathreads, and Bridges.

The Polkadot community elements (supply: Polkadot web site)

The Polkadot Relay Chain:

The Relay chain is the first structure that holds all the things collectively. Polkadot makes use of the Relay Chain primarily to confirm transactions, just like how Bitcoin and Ethereum use Proof of Work and Proof of Stake (POS) processes to confirm transactions. On Polkadot, customers can stake the native token DOT to assist in the work of verifying transactions. 

As the central element of Polkadot, the Relay Chain degree coordinates the system as a whole, performing essential capabilities just like the verifying transactions and in making choices on easy methods to run your complete Polkadot structure. There aren’t many programmable or customizable choices at this layer of Polkadot.

The listing of Relay Chain capabilities consists of:

  1. Transaction validation. 
  2. Nomination of events who will stake their cash for validation.
  3. Keeping historic knowledge.
  4. Monitoring your complete Polkadot system’s well being.

The Parachain:

A Parachain is a full-fledged blockchain utility that lives on prime of the Relay Chain. It is described by Polkadot in its whitepaper as “an application-specific data structure that is globally coherent and validatable.”

The Relay Chain, or the bottom layer, handles the safety, validation of transactions, and governance capabilities of every Parachain. 

The Parachain is just like different blockchain networks comparable to Bitcoin or Ethereum Blockchain. Polkadot is exclusive in that it may possibly include a number of blockchains inside itself. Hypothetically, it may possibly home each the Bitcoin and the Ethereum blockchains inside itself and place each as a Parachain.  

If each the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains are in Parachains inside Polkadot, they’ll be capable of talk with one another, and might even go transactions from one to the opposite– think about changing BTC into ETH with out an change. The blockchains talk by a protocol known as XCMP, which stands for “Cross-Chain Message Passing.”

The Parachain degree solely has a restricted variety of slots obtainable, that are auctioned off by the Polkadot neighborhood.

Parachain’s supply a novel aspect of safety. In principle, the Bitcoin blockchain may be hacked with a 51% assault. Such an assault may very well be prevented by the collective nature of Parachains below the general safety construction of the Relay Chain.


Parathreads are momentary slots on the Polkadot community, primarily used to check out concepts. 

Parathreads are just like Parachains in that they permit for the constructing of a special-use blockchain or utility.

The distinction between Parathreads and Parachains is that Parachains are extra resource-intensive and extra everlasting than Parathreads– Parachains require a big up-front funding to cowl the excessive throughput. 

As Polkadot places it, “Parathreads have the exact same API and functionality as parachains, but on a pay as you go basis.”

Think of Parathreads and Parachains are like a Process and a Thread that runs in a pc’s CPU.  A Process might have many Threads, and the Threads in a Process should share the sources of the method. 

Similarly, Parathreads should additionally share sources inside a Parachain as a result of they’re quickly leased spots on a Parachain to virtually take a look at concepts in a dwell atmosphere.

Parathreads additionally permits smaller neighborhood initiatives that couldn’t compete in an public sale for an unique Parachain. The Parathreads permit these initiatives to experiment and reveal efficacy earlier than committing to the upfront prices of a Parachain. 

The Polkadot network (source: Polkadot website)

The Polkadot community (supply: Polkadot web site)

Since Parathreads should share scarce sources amongst varied Parathreads operating on a selected Parachain; as such, the communities on every Parathread should compete for sources with one another, and should pay for every processing block to the homeowners of the internet hosting Parachains. 

Parachains which have decreased in neighborhood dimension and don’t use validation sources may be moved to grow to be Parathreads to unlock the restricted Parachain slots whereas preserving performance. 

Chains that might in any other case be unable to compete in an public sale of a Parachain of their very own or don’t assume that to be economically viable can share the Polkadot safety sources by paying for processing every block to the internet hosting Parachains.


Bridges, or the power for a person blockchain to speak and switch worth to a different, have been missing in conventional blockchain expertise. 

Say you wish to buy an NFT priced in ETH, however you solely have BTC. Traditionally, you’d must convert BTC into fiat after which convert into ETH, or purchase ETH for BTC on an change. You merely can’t switch worth or knowledge from one Blockchain to the opposite with out an middleman layer, whether or not that be an change or fiat.


A neat graphic for bridges (supply: Polkadot web site)

Bridges change that restriction, they usually permit Parachains, that are primarily blockchains encased inside the Polkadot ecosystem, to speak and share knowledge.The financial sovereignty and variety of the respective blockchains just isn’t affected when speaking or transacting by way of bridges. 

Bridges can be found each in centralized or decentralized variations, maybe resulting in a path of communication with central banks if (when) they start minting digital fiat forex.

It is essential to notice that Bridges are a deliberate characteristic of the Polkadot Blockchain, and nonetheless should be put into manufacturing. According to Polkadot, “It will be updated as more information is determined and available.”

The Polkadot Token (DOT): Tokenomics and Governance:

Polkadot makes use of its native token, DOT, for transaction processing funds and governance. DOT can be used for staking on the Relay Chain PoS (Proof of Stake) validation.

The DOT token performs a number of roles throughout the Polkadot community like compensating validators, as a governance token, or as a forex. 

There are at present 1 billion allotted DOT tokens, up from the preliminary max provide of 10 million DOT as a result of a network redenomination

Polkadot (DOT) Price

The DOT token has traded between $2.90 and $40.70 since its launch in August 2020. The primary exchanges buying and selling Polkadot (DOT) are often Binance, OKEx, and Houbi Global

Polkadot Staking

Unlike the Power of Work (PoW) consensus the place miners use electrical energy to validate blocks to be added to the Blockchain, the Proof of Stake (PoS) requires customers to validate blocks by staking their coins.  In the PoW consensus, anybody can create a node and mine the blocks. In distinction, within the PoS, the Validators are particular contributors that run the nodes (additionally known as Validator Nodes) to suggest and validate blocks to be added.

Like different PoS programs, Polkadot customers can use a DOT to:

  • to stake and for the proprietor to grow to be a validator of your complete ecosystem’s transactions. 
  • nominate their DOT to different validators, 
  • or grow to be a nominator themselves to share the rewards.

If a DOT holder doesn’t want to do the verification itself they will additionally nominate one other DOT holder to stake their DOT tokens; it’s as in case you are choosing somebody to be your consultant.  A DOT holder can nominate as much as 16 validators to stake their tokens for them. Hence, Polkadot’s consensus mechanism known as NPoS (nominated proof-of-stake.)

Final Thoughts

It’s no coincidence the identical builders engaged on scaling Ethereum into Ethereum 2.Zero are additionally bringing the world the Polkadot ecosystem. 

In constructing Polkadot, the group has paid specific consideration to treatment all of the deficits that plagued and restricted earlier blockchain programs, comparable to Bitcoin’s lack of customizability or Ethereum 1.0’s lack of scalability. 

The Polkadot founding team (source: Polkadot website)

The Polkadot founding group (supply: Polkadot web site)

Will Polkadot be capable of fulfill its imaginative and prescient of connecting the world’s blockchains into one cohesive, interoperable ecosystem? It’s fairly a problem, however the Polkadot group appears to be exceptionally certified to take action.


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