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Smart contracts – here we come

Alonzo will build on Cardano’s token upgrades to give developers the tools for crafting business applications

8 April 2021 Olga Hryniuk 6 mins read

Smart contracts – here we come

At the start of March, we implemented Mary ‒ a multi-asset protocol upgrade that allows users to create unique tokens for transactions on Cardano. With the introduction of transaction metadata, then token-locking with Allegra in December, and native token creation, we are laying the foundation to establish Cardano as the leading smart contract platform.

Alonzo, our next protocol upgrade, will build on these capabilities. Implemented using our hard fork combinator technology, Alonzo will add support for smart contracts – digital agreements – to Cardano about four months from now. It will open up opportunities for businesses and developers, by allowing the creation of smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps) for decentralized finance (DeFi).

When it came to naming these upgrades, we chose Allegra (Lord Byron's daughter) for token-locking, and Mary (the novelist and wife of Shelley) for multi-asset support. Alonzo comes from a more contemporary figure, Alonzo Church (1903-95). Church was a US mathematician and logician who worked on logic and the foundations of theoretical computer science. He is also known for inventing lambda calculus ‒ a formal system used to prove the unsolvability of the Entscheidungsproblem. Later, while working with fellow mathematician Alan Turing, they discovered that the lambda calculus and the Turing machine were equal in capabilities, demonstrating various mechanical processes for computations. One of the reasons for naming our smart contract upgrade after Church is that Plutus Core (the Cardano smart contract language) is a variation of lambda calculus.

Why smart contracts?

Smart contracts mark the next phase in Cardano's evolution as a worldwide distributed ledger. When supporting everyday business, a blockchain must guarantee that individuals can move their funds and pay for products in a secure way.

Smart contracts can be used to settle complex deals, hold funds in escrow, and secure movement of funds under predefined conditions. Cardano will allow DApps to interact with the ledger to record their activities and execute smart contracts. These digital agreements express the story of a transaction, specify where funds should go, and under what conditions they will be sent, executing a deal only when all the conditions are met. Alonzo will lay the foundation for Cardano to support such applications.

Addressing business needs with Alonzo

While multi-asset support allows users to create unique currencies that fuel business needs, Alonzo introduces a versatile platform for building smart contracts. It will be possible to work with collectibles, crowdfunding, or auctions, for example.

Areas of exploration might include the deployment of escrow-based decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges (DEX), or the creation of complex applications supporting centralized stablecoins (track-and-trace applications for product provenance within a supply chain, for example). With token-locking, users will be able to issue utility tokens with vesting periods, meaning that a number of tokens can be locked or frozen to be released after a specific time.

The scripting power of Plutus Core

With Alonzo, we are adding the necessary tools and the infrastructure to allow application development using the Plutus Platform.

Applying a rigorous approach based on formal methods and verification, Alonzo extends the basic multi-signature scripting language (multisig) used in Cardano Shelley. Multisig will be upgraded to the Plutus Core language for more powerful and secure scripting options. The Alonzo ledger implements the extended unspent transaction output (EUTXO) accounting model, using Plutus Core to provide powerful scripting.

A smart contract platform must be both secure and reliable. That’s why we chose Haskell as the basis for writing Plutus Core smart contracts. Haskell is a high-level language that developers will use to write code and then compile it to Plutus Core.

Haskell has been around since 1987, standing out from other programming languages for its high level of trust. Writing in Haskell ensures that smart contracts are programmed to do exactly what they are expected to and can be tested for accuracy before implementation. This means that smart contracts built on Cardano will be straightforward and resistant to vulnerabilities, which is crucial for applications that handle automated trading or move large funds around.

Tools and APIs

Developers will have functional tools to experiment with and customize transaction validation on Cardano. The API library will be extended to enable the deployment and operation of the Plutus Core code on Cardano while interacting with wallets and the ledger.

Deploying Alonzo is a complex process. Once functional smart contracts are running on the mainnet, we will continue improving the off-chain infrastructure to deliver software development kits.

Where are we right now?

Figure 1. Alonzo roadmap. The code will be frozen for four weeks before release

Throughout March and April, the IO Global team has been gradually combining the Alonzo rules with the Cardano node and ledger code. When Alonzo integration with the node is complete, Cardano will provide working API tools and command line interface (CLI) support.

From mid-April into early May, the team will continue working on Plutus development to launch a private testnet. During this phase, our partners (advanced developers) will be testing out the platform, creating and deploying non-fungible tokens (NFTs), marketplaces, or DApps running smart contracts on Cardano. This process will focus on step-by-step improvements to ensure that everything works efficiently.

In May, we’ll start working with our Plutus pioneers. These certified program trainees will continue testing the platform by writing Plutus applications and putting them into production for DApps and DeFi. During this phase, the team will be performing the ledger, node, and wallet backend integration. We will also be preparing and releasing documentation, including specification examples and developer guides.

May and June will be a time for quality assurance and testing with users, which will be followed by a feature freeze lasting for four weeks. This will provide crypto exchanges and wallets with the time to upgrade and prepare for the Alonzo protocol update. We expect the Alonzo upgrade (hard fork) to happen in late summer, and we will announce a firm date in April’s Cardano360 show.

For a more detailed roadmap, check out the March Cardano360 presentation by Charles Hoskinson.

These are exciting times and we encourage you to stay tuned. The next blog post will delve into the relationship between the Plutus concepts that underpin Alonzo development. Meanwhile, the developers’ website has more about programming with Plutus, Marlowe, and Glow.

Boosting network decentralization with P2P

Peer-to-peer communication between stake pools will make Cardano more dynamic and more efficient as the network grows

6 April 2021 Olga Hryniuk 7 mins read

Boosting network decentralization with P2P

The decentralization of Cardano puts responsibility for running the blockchain in the hands of stake pools. An essential element in this is reliable and effective connections between all the distributed nodes, and ensuring that the network is resilient to failure.

With the simpler Byron version of the blockchain, federated (OBFT) nodes controlled by the Cardano Foundation, Emurgo, and IOHK were wholly responsible for managing block production and network connections. This maintained the network, while building up a system of thousands of distributed nodes, operated by stake pools. To achieve decentralization, Cardano has now ended the prevalence of the federated nodes that have supported the system since its creation in 2017.

On December 6, 2020, we set the k parameter to 500 to expand the number of ‘viable’ pools and further promote decentralization. We have also gradually reduced d to put the power of block production entirely into the hands of the community. 100% of blocks are now being produced by the stake pool operator (SPO) community, which means that block production in Cardano is completely decentralized. These parameter changes support long-term chain sustainability and encourage the spreading of stake and potential rewards more evenly among stake pools.

In just over six months, we have evolved from a system reliant upon a handful of federated nodes, into a proof-of-stake system run by the community, with thousands of blocks produced every epoch by over 2,000 stake pools.

The network

Cardano’s networking layer is a physical infrastructure that combines nodes and their interaction into a unified system. The network distributes information about transactions and block creation among all active nodes. In this way, the system validates and adds blocks to the chain and verifies transactions. Thus, a distributed network of nodes must keep communication delays to a minimum, and be resilient enough to cope with failures, capacity constraints, or hackers.

Under the old federated system, nodes were connected by a static configuration defined in a topology file. Since the introduction of Shelley, the system has been functioning in a hybrid mode, where nodes connect to federated relays and to other SPO’s relays. This connectivity is partially manually constructed, however, SPOs can exchange block and transaction information without relying on federated nodes.

In his article 'Cardano’s path to decentralization', Marcin Szamotulski discussed the network’s design and explained Cardano’s approach to network decentralization with the advent of Shelley. Now that we have reached full decentralization in terms of block production, it is also essential that the network connectivity is decentralized too. Cardano will achieve this through a shift to peer-to-peer (P2P) connectivity.

P2P networking

At this point, we should talk about the network ‘stack’, a set of software tools recently enhanced by our engineering team to cope with a larger, more dynamic, and complex network.

P2P communication will enhance the flow of information between nodes, thus reducing (and ultimately removing) the network’s reliance on the federated nodes, and enabling the decentralization of Cardano. To achieve the desired resilience, IOHK’s networking team has been busy improving the network stack with advanced P2P capabilities. These improvements do not require a protocol change, but rather enable automated peer selection and communication.

The P2P networking is enabled due to the use of the following components:

Figure 1. P2P architecture

Let's take a closer look at the process of how node connections are established and see how the latest developments streamline data exchange between nodes.

Mini protocols

A set of mini protocols enables communication between nodes. Each protocol implements a basic information exchange requirement, such as informing peers of the latest block, sharing blocks, or processing transactions. Chain-sync, block-fetch, and tx-submission protocols have been used to distribute chains of blocks and transactions for node-to-node communication in the network:

  • block-fetch draws information from the chain database.
  • chain-sync synchronizes fetched data across the network.
  • tx-submission2 consumes transactions from peer mempools and adds them to the local mempool, which enables peers to submit their transactions to the node. This is a modification of the current tx-submission protocol.

These mini protocols support the Ouroboros consensus protocol. To ensure optimal networking service, the team has implemented additional protocols:

  • keep-alive: this ensures continuous connection between nodes and minimizes performance faults.
  • tip-sample: this provides information about which peers offer better connectivity in terms of performance.

You can find out more about the network architecture and mini protocol examples on the Cardano documentation website.

Connection management

The networking service supports Linux, Windows, and macOS, but the number of connections supported by each operating system varies.

To avoid system overloading, a multiplexer combines several channels into a single Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connection channel. This offers two advantages: One, bidirectional communication between peers (so any peer can initiate communication with no restrictions as both parties have read and write permissions within the same channel), and enhanced node-to-node communication without affecting performance.

The networking team has implemented a bidirectional-aware ‘connection manager’ that integrates with the P2P governor, which is currently undergoing final testing before deployment. Additionally, the multiplexer’s API has been upgraded to monitor new connections and protocols. This enhancement introduces more efficient connection management and improved issue tracking.

P2P governor functionality

The Cardano network involves multiple peer nodes. Some are more active than others, some have established connections, and some should be promoted to ensure the best system performance. As discussed in 'Cardano’s path to decentralization', peers are mapped into three categories:

  • cold peers
  • warm peers
  • hot peers

To establish bidirectional connections between them, it is crucial that we know which connections are active.

Figure 2. Peer discovery on Cardano

The P2P governor manages connections and provides information on which peers are active and performing well. This feature promotes peer connections for enhanced system performance and also provides excellent visibility by building and maintaining a connectivity map of the entire network. The governor will simplify the process of connection definitions by handling these automatically so a few central stake pools no longer have to configure them manually. The governor promotes or demotes peers between cold, warm, and hot states, and also interacts with the connection manager to open new connections or reuse existing ones.

P2P deployment roadmap

The IOHK networking team is in the final stages of quality testing the P2P governor integration with the node. After this, the team will extend the network stack with more protocols – gossip, in particular, which will provide seamless data exchange between peers and help construct a decentralized communication map.

These technical upgrades allow us to simplify Cardano node interfaces and improve the system’s configuration. When testing is finalized, all SPOs will be able to update and simplify their configuration preferences for enhanced connectivity.

This involves the following stages before full P2P deployment:

Figure 3. P2P deployment roadmap

For a walkthrough of the plan from chief architect Duncan Coutts, check out this video from the March Cardano360 show.

While governance played an important role in the network establishment, maintenance and support, only with decentralization we can achieve true network sustainability to ensure equal opportunities for all stake pools. Thus, the goal of stack improvements is to allow all stake pools to run the same configurations, establishing equal capabilities within a decentralized environment.

We’ll keep providing more development updates in this blog, and you can also follow Cardano status updates to learn about recent improvements and developments.

Introducing the new Plutus Playground

Developers are invited to test out our improved smart contract tools before full release

25 January 2021 Olga Hryniuk 4 mins read

Introducing the new Plutus Playground

Goguen is Cardano’s development theme that focuses on utility, smart contract support, and native token issuance. While delivering it as a system of interactive components, we are gradually adding all the building blocks to add smart contracts to the Cardano platform.

Goguen brings native token support along with Plutus and Marlowe to help develop the smart contracts that are essential to establishing a global, decentralized financial system. To lay the groundwork, we have introduced transaction metadata, upgraded the ledger to support token locking (which is essential for complex smart contracts), and will soon deploy native token support for multi-assets. We are also building devnets to bring in other developer communities.

Now, we have refreshed and upgraded the Plutus Playground and we are encouraging developers to contribute to its growth by testing the pre-release version.

What is the Plutus Playground?

Plutus Playground provides an environment for writing and testing smart contracts before they are released on the Cardano blockchain. Plutus Core, which is the smart-contract language embedded into the ledger, is based on Haskell formal programming principles and allows developers to write high-assurance applications that interact with Cardano. Haskell was chosen as the basis for the Plutus Platform because it stands out from other programming languages for offering the ability to write more secure code. Using Haskell for smart contract deployment ensures that contracts are programmed to do exactly what they are expected to and can be tested for accuracy before implementation.

As well as providing a web-based simulator for writing and executing smart contracts, the new Plutus Playground also allows users to access popular smart contracts that have already been written. An early version was previewed at PlutusFest in December 2018. Since then, the project has expanded considerably and this new release of Plutus Playground reflects that.

Who is it for?

Plutus Playground is for people creating decentralized applications (DApps), and smart contract programmers who wish to work with Cardano. Plutus will become a platform for building DApps for supply chains, track and trace, medical records, identity voting, property registration, P2P payments, and financial systems. Thus, it will serve the needs of audiences such as:

  • companies, large and small
  • governments
  • the Cardano community and ada holders
  • entrepreneurs.

Plutus Playground features and improvements

So, now is the time for developers to start building Plutus contracts and testing them prior to the deployment of Plutus on the Cardano mainnet later this year. Plutus Playground works through your web browser and there is no need to install software. There are tutorials on compiling and simulating smart contracts written by the Plutus team.

Improvements have been made to the backend software, reported issues have been addressed, and the interface is even better.

Figure 1. The old Plutus Playground editor (left) compared with the new interface, which is now available

As with the existing Plutus Playground, the interface is split into three sections:

  • editor
  • simulation
  • transactions.

The simulator shows how a contract will behave on the Cardano blockchain. An important aspect of this is that it can act as a training tool for people who do not have advanced developer skills because it demonstrates the working principles. Users can define and modify the wallets that interact with a contract, as well as the actions that affect the outcome. The results can then be evaluated to see what happens on the blockchain and how transactions occur.

The Plutus Playground offers a choice of keyboard setups. Developers can choose between Vim and Emacs options or stick with the default keyboard.

We have also refreshed the look and feel with UX improvements. Finally, the simulator is more realistic in the way it runs Plutus applications, and as previously, it can be linked with GitHub accounts to save contracts and any work in progress. You can find a full technical walkthrough here.

How to get involved

We are now encouraging experienced developers (and less experienced ones too!) to test Plutus Playground before the final offering. If you are interested in smart contracts and wish to get involved, we are eager to hear your feedback.

The Playground refresh goes live today at https://playground.plutus.iohkdev.io/. You can join Plutus discussions at the Cardano Forum and visit the Plutus GitHub repository. For access to additional support and resources, register your interest by filling out this Typeform for us to add you to our Slack community.

Smash: introducing a new way of managing stake pool metadata

Our metadata framework supports delegators and the community by bringing verified information to the Cardano network

17 November 2020 Olga Hryniuk 5 mins read

Smash: introducing a new way of managing stake pool metadata

Stake pool operations lie at the heart of Cardano decentralization, enabling servers to reach a consensus agreement across the network. Our groundbreaking Ouroboros proof-of-stake consensus protocol allows pool operators to reach agreement on the validity of transactions and sign a block, which is then immutably recorded on the Cardano blockchain.

On the Shelley path to decentralization, as more stake pools are created, the more the Cardano network grows. Operators form their pools, attract delegation, stake ada, earn rewards and take a small cut to cover their running costs before distributing the rest between the pool participants.

Node decentralization is a key element. However, to keep track of stake pool information and simplify the choice of a pool for delegators, it is crucial to ensure that information about each stake pool is relevant and valid. And, as far as is possible, that the influence of bad actors, such as potential attackers, spoof pools, and trolls, on the system is minimized.

Welcome to Smash

To address these needs, we have developed Smash – the server that supports operators and ada owners by validating information about stake pools and storing it as metadata.

Each stake pool is registered on the blockchain along with the information required to calculate rewards. However, stake pools also include metadata that helps ada owners to make a rational choice when delegating their stake. This metadata includes owner details, pool name, pool ticker, homepage, and a short description, which are not stored on the blockchain, and thus it is important to provide visibility and access to this information.

As well as ensuring that registered stake pools are valid, Smash metadata server helps to avoid duplicated ticker names or trademarks, and ensure that they do not feature content that Cardano users are likely to find offensive. Given that scams, trolls, and abusive behavior are an unfortunate part of life online, we had to find a way of filtering potentially problematic actors out of the playing field.

What is Smash?

Smash is a stake pool metadata aggregation server that was conceived to improve Cardano users’ access to verified stake pool information and make it easier to use the system. A Smash server can aggregate stake pool metadata, fetch it, and store it.

The first generation of Smash has been deployed by IOHK and provides information about delegation in the Daedalus wallet. Previously, this off-chain data was fetched by Daedalus from each stake pool separately, which required a lot of network connections and affected performance. All of this data can now be served from one server, hosted and fetched, initially by our team.

Although the Smash server is currently run by IOHK, it is important to note that the server code is open source and can be deployed by anyone. So we hope that in the future, the Smash approach will be adopted by the community for decentralized metadata. Daedalus will allow users to configure any server of their choice and browse custom stake pool lists – for example, charity pools, bare metal pools, or pools from a certain region for ada holders who would prefer to support stake pool businesses with a particular focus.

How does it work?

Smash is an evolving system. Currently, as its operator, we are responsible for the maintenance and metadata curation on the IOHK Smash server. Badly behaved stake pools can be delisted from display in Daedalus. Factors taken into account for such decisions include illegal or malicious metadata content, impersonation, the use of ticker names that were previously registered on the Incentivized Testnet (when this is not the same stake pool/operator), intellectual property rights violations, or stake pools that are no longer active.

While its most immediate impact can be seen in Daedalus, Smash is a resource to support the community. So if you identify a stake pool ticker that you feel might be causing harm and transgresses the guidelines, we encourage you to review the guidelines we have recently published outlining the reasons for a stake pool delisting and a step-by-step explanation of the delisting process. Get in touch if you believe there is a case to be made for removal.

It is important to ensure that there is a reason for a stake pool to be delisted and that if possible, there is a reasonable level of community consent. Thus, any request should include the rationale and any proof of violations. All requests are reviewed by the Smash operator. It usually takes seven days for a request to be inspected and processed, and we always respond by clarifying the motivation for any decision. Cardano is a decentralized ecosystem and aims not to limit any stake pool operation activity unduly or unfairly. We reserve the right to make the final decision regarding the Smash server we manage, however we aim to provide the community with as much visibility and trust as possible. For more details, please email smash@iohk.io or contact directly @benohanlon in Telegram.

Blockchain governance - from philosophy and vision to real-world application

Robust and effective community governance lies at the very heart of Cardano's decentralized vision, and Project Catalyst will test the theory this summer.

5 August 2020 Olga Hryniuk 8 mins read

Blockchain governance - from philosophy and vision to real-world application

Taking a decentralized approach to governance and decision-making is proving to be more efficient in many spheres than the centralized, authority-based model that became the norm in so many areas in the last century. At IOHK, we believe that blockchain technology offers a way to encourage participation in collective action. And we are building just such a system, so Cardano can grow in a fair and decentralized way, with an open governance system that encourages global participation by granting ada holders the power to make decisions.

Decentralization is core to global governance

As we’ve been working on this, the pandemic crisis has exposed weaknesses in our globalized economy and made it clear that everyone needs to reconsider the ways we collaborate in the face of challenging international situations. Over recent decades, the world has become ever more connected through digital infrastructure and social platforms. Therefore, robust tools and new behavior patterns are now necessary to improve the way we collaborate.

In the past, large collective challenges had to be solved in a centralized manner by high-level actors governing from the ‘top’ down. In that governance model, power, authority, and control were decided and exercised at management level. This could be a chief executive, a president, or even a dictator determining the ‘best’ course of action. In this centralized system, once a decision is made, it becomes the law of the land, and new behaviors are enforced. However, the top-down model is inefficient for solving global-scale challenges. Dr Mihaela Ulieru, an adviser on digital ecosystems organization and transformation, spoke at the recent Cardano Virtual Summit about her vision of ‘bottom-up’ organic governance. There, she pointed out that hierarchical structures are rigid and less productive. Furthermore, they cannot deal efficiently with emerging complexity.

A centralized governance model depends on the limited knowledge, expertise, and understanding of a single individual or a body of actors. Decisions must then proliferate through the system to deal with emerging problems. This generates an inflexible response that lacks on-the-ground information from the people affected by a particular event. Therefore, the more complex and widespread a problem is, the less prepared a top-down organization can deal with it in a way that works for most people. So the question arises, how do we create a system that responds to emerging problems, aids decision-making, and remains all-inclusive?

Dr Ulieru reminds us that the bottom-up approach has been used in peer-to-peer networks to great effect allowing network participants to collaborate in a way that is reflective of the desires and needs of the community. SoScial.Network, launched by Jon Cole after Hurricane Harvey hit the southern US in 2017, is one example. This network enabled people and communities to gather and offer help to each other by providing aid to disaster victims. Another social network, ChefsForAmerica, delivers food to hospitals, the disadvantaged, and those in need. AgeWell created a peer-to-peer care delivery model that improves the well-being and health of elderly people, keeping them in their homes, while reducing their healthcare costs. Such activity, organized by individuals in a decentralized manner, can solve challenges faster and collaboratively.

Cardano decentralization

For effective collaboration on decision-making, Cardano offers a decentralized network built on a blockchain for a higher level of security and transparency. It takes the networking peer-to-peer concept further and builds it into a global infrastructure. For Cardano to establish a solid governance model, it is important to ensure that everyone can participate in a transparent, accountable, and responsive way. As decentralization empowers individuals and communities to take action and collaborate, anyone can suggest a change, or an activity to be initiated, whether this is for social good or for technological progress.

The question is, how to decide which change is crucial and what exactly will benefit everyone? Crucially, who will pay for its realization? To solve these issues, Cardano is establishing a global voting and treasury systems for funding the blockchain long-term development. Hence, decision-making and funding are two crucial components of governance. At IOHK, we worked to solve these issues and to provide the tools to empower decentralized governance and improve all our systems.

Voltaire and ada holders

For Cardano, a decentralized governance model should grant all ada holders the ability to decide what changes should be made for the ecosystem to grow and mature. When building an ecosystem for the next century rather than the next decade, the self-sustainability of the network becomes vital. Since individuals in the Cardano ecosystem are most affected by the decisions made about the protocol, it is important for them to understand how those decisions are made and how they are paid for, as well as how to participate in that process.

Voltaire is the era in Cardano development that deals with decentralized governance and decision-making. Voltaire focuses on the Cardano community’s ability to decide on software updates, technical improvements, and project funding. To provide the final components that turn Cardano into a self-sustainable blockchain, we need to introduce:

  • A treasury system: a continuous source of funding to develop the Cardano blockchain.
  • Decentralized software updates: the process enabling decentralized, open participation for fair voting on decisions about system advancements.

In line with that, IOHK’s engineers are implementing tools and social experiments to enable Cardano’s governance framework. Hence, we are working on:

  • Cardano improvement proposals (CIPs): a social communication system for describing formal, technically-oriented standards, codes, and processes that provide guidelines for the Cardano community in a transparent and open-source way.
  • Project Catalyst: an experimental treasury system combining proposal and voting procedures.

Project Catalyst focuses on making the treasury system a reality by establishing a democratic culture for the Cardano community. This goal will be achieved by a combination of research, social experiments, and community consent. Catalyst enables the community to make proposals, vote on them, and fund them according to their feasibility, auditability and impact.

It is important to note that everyone has an equal right to propose changes and system enhancements, and that everyone is encouraged to collaborate on innovative and powerful proposals.

To ensure that everyone gets a say, we are establishing a ballot submission system where people can propose improvements. This may be a proposal to sustain a system, to market it, or perhaps a suggestion to improve an existing protocol. In addition, IOHK wants to enable our community to create products or applications aimed at solving challenges within the market.

To suggest such contributions, people can submit ballots to the community. After the ballots are submitted, voting will decide which proposals can move forward.

Voting is the exercise of influence to decide which proposals get accepted or rejected. Only by encouraging everyone to participate can we ensure that preferences are determined in a democratic way. The value of Catalyst, though, lies not only in the technology improvement, but also in enabling the community to learn how to collaborate, make good decisions, and essentially, generate great proposals. So, decisions are taken through a robust set of voting protocols that we are developing. These will be evaluated by the community with the help of members who can put themselves forward as ‘experts’ to help explain proposals.

Although any ada holder can submit a proposal, the voting power of an individual is proportional to the amount of ada that is ‘locked’ into the system when people register. By voting, participants will influence decisions on which proposals to fund for network development and maintenance. This could also lead to the creation of educational materials, marketing strategies, technical improvements processes, and many other ideas.

Another feature of Catalyst is privacy. As in any political elections, this is key for preventing voter coercion and helping defend against corruption. So, Cardano is looking to implement a zero-knowledge proof for each vote. This cryptographic technique grants privacy by allowing the vote to be verified without it being publicly revealed.

The treasury funds proposals

A crucial aspect of a self-sustainable network is understanding who will fund decisions and proposals. To meet these needs, Cardano is introducing a self-sustainable treasury system to fund blockchain enhancements and maintenance. The main sources of capital will be refilled every epoch from a portion of stake pool rewards, and later from minted new coins, the percentage from fees, and additional donations or charity.

Project Catalyst will maintain this constant source of funding. A steady income stream will support initiatives and improvements proposed by ada holders, while at the same time rewarding and incentivizing people who dedicate their time and effort to making productive decisions. This will enable the establishment of a decentralized system that promotes participation, collaborative decisions, and incentivization. Besides the funding purposes, Catalyst ensures that funds are used well, facilitating the flow of information so the community is able to assess proposals while addressing the most important needs of the ecosystem.

IOHK is building a decentralized financial system that can address the world's needs. Voltaire is the first step in this direction. Using a collection of concepts, tools, and experiments, we are creating a fully decentralized ecosystem that will democratize our blockchain, and open it to the world.

Want to help shape the future of Cardano? Project Catalyst is looking for 25 community members to join a focus group on the direction of the program, pitch their ideas, and test the platform and voting. If you have an idea that might be suitable for funding, or would like to join a panel assessing community ideas, apply today! Please ensure you have a Telegram and an email account to apply by midnight UTC on Friday, August 7.