What Is Cardano’s Alonzo Upgrade?

On Sept. 12, Cardano released its highly-anticipated Alonzo upgrade. Following the upgrade, the blockchain network can now support a wide range of crypto applications, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and smart contracts.

According to the project’s founder Charles Hoskinson, Alonzo aims to introduce “programmability” to the network. He likened the upgrade to when JavaScript was introduced to web browsers and the transition from static web pages to the likes of Facebook and YouTube.

Alonzo is named after American mathematician Alonzo Church, who is considered to be one of the founding fathers of computer science.

In addition to supporting NFTs and smart contracts, Cardano can now be used for decentralized exchanges.

In general, Alonzo puts Cardano in the same class as Ethereum, the world’s leading blockchain which supports other applications other than its native Ether token. Smart contracts, for instance, are one of the cornerstones of the decentralized finance sector — and Cardano now supports smart contracts.

In February 2022, the number of Cardano wallets broke the three million milestone. Since December 2020, it has surged by 1,200%, from 190,000 to over 3,000,000. This coincided with an increase in smart contracts following the Alonzo Upgrade, and Cardano surpassed the 1,000 smart contracts milestone on Jan. 27, 2022.

Another indicator of the ecosystem’s explosive growth is developer activity: Cardano boasted the most developers contributing to its Github, beating out more developed blockchains like Solana. On average, more than 50 contributions are submitted to its repo per day.

However, the network is still struggling with implementing its smart contracts, and users had complaints about a sluggish launch of its SundaeSwap decentralized exchange in January 2022.

What Is Cardano’s Vasil Hard Fork?

Named after late Bulgarian mathematician Vasil Dabov, a prominent contributor to Cardano, the Vasil hard fork is touted as one of the most highly-anticipated upgrades for Cardano. The hard fork is the third development epoch of Cardano and is supposed to introduce several upgrades to the blockchain’s smart contract programming language Plutus and the network’s capacity.

The event was originally billed to happen in June 2022, but has been postponed a number of times.

Vasil will introduce five critical mechanisms to improve Cardano’s scalability and usability — CIP-31, CIP-32, CIP-33, CIP-40 and diffusion pipelining.

CIP-31, aka “reference inputs” will introduce a new kind of input that would allow developers to look at the result of an output without having to spend it. This would optimize transaction throughput and increase concurrency.

The CIP-32 proposal aims to enable inline datums. Rather than attach datum to datum hashes, which is the current state of things, CIP-32 would allow developers to attach datums to outputs. By implementing this update, devs can code scripts that directly point to the input, making room for simpler and quicker communication of datum values between users.

The Cardano Improvement Proposal 33 would allow reference scripts to be attached to outputs. As a result, the reference scripts are used to satisfy the validation requirements in place of the spending transaction. These reference scripts will make the validation process more efficient and reduce the size of transactions.

Meanwhile, CIP-40 features a brand-new type of output to transactions called collateral outputs, aimed at improving the overall scalability of the network.

Diffusing pipelining is Cardano’s consensus layer scaling solution. The improvement proposal will see more DApp deployment by overlaying some of the steps that a block needs to go through as it moves across the chain: this would allow for concurrent transactions.

What Is Cardano (ADA)?

Cardano is a proof-of-stake blockchain platform created with the intention of helping those with the power to change the world, bring about positive global change.

The open-source project’s goal is also to “take power away from unaccountable structures at the top and give it back to individuals on the margins.” Doing this would make our society more secure, transparent and fair.

Cardano was founded in 2017 and named after the 16th century Italian polymath Gerolamo Cardano. The native ADA token is named after 19th century mathematician Ada Lovelace, who is widely believed to be the world’s first computer programmer.ADA tokens give owners the right to vote on proposed changes to the software, meaning that they can play a role in how the network runs.

The developers of the layered blockchain believe that their technology- which makes it possible to create decentralized apps and smart contracts modularly- has already had some amazing applications.

On Aug. 12, 2021, Charles Hoskinson announced the launch of the Alonzo hard fork for Cardano, causing the price of ADA to surge by 116% in the following month. On Sept. 12, 2021, the hard fork officially launched, bringing smart contract functionality to Cardano users. Over 100 smart contracts were deployed within 24 hours after launching.

Cardano is used by agricultural companies to track the movements of fresh produce, while other products built on the platform allow for educational credentials to be stored in a tamper-proof way, and retailers to put an end to counterfeit goods.

Cardano was founded by Charles Hoskinson, who is also the CEO of IOHK, the company that built Cardano’s blockchain.

In an interview for CoinMarketCap’s Crypto Titans series, Hoskinson stated that he became involved in cryptocurrencies all the way back in 2011. He did a bit of mining and trading before getting his first professional job related to cryptocurrency in 2013 when he created a course on Bitcoin which was taken by 80,000 students.

Hoskinson isn’t only a technology entrepreneur, but also excelling in mathematics. In 2020, his company donated $500,000 worth of ADA to the University of Wyoming’s Blockchain Research and Development Lab.

Cardano is one of the most successful blockchains to use a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. PoS uses less energy than Bitcoin’s proof-of-work algorithm, making it more environmentally friendly. Even though Ethereum is much larger, its transition to PoS will happen slowly over time.

The Cardano team has made sure that all of the technology developed goes through a rigorous process of peer-reviewed research. This ensures that bold ideas can be challenged before they are validated, making the blockchain more durable and stable. By doing this, potential pitfalls can be anticipated in advance, making the project more successful overall.

The Shelley upgrade in 2020 aimed to make Cardano’s blockchain significantly more decentralized than other large blockchains. Hoskinson predicted that this would then enable hundreds of assets to be run on its network.

Alonzo’s hard fork launch in September 2021 will conclude the Shelley era and begin the Goguen phase. Users can develop and deploy smart contracts on Cardano, which will allow for native decentralized applications (DApps) to be built on top of its blockchain. On September 2, 2021, Cardano’s price broke the $3 mark and reached an all-time high of $3.101 in anticipation of the launch.