IOHK Cardano: The platform powered by global research and scientific philosophy

IOHK Cardano: The platform powered by global research and scientific philosophy

December 27, 2017 5 By Ray

An Engineering Based Project

As the world is swimming in ICOs, new projects, promises and potential – it’s not often that one comes across a project with significant scientific and engineering merit that isn’t awash and top heavy in marketing. While many day traders focus on price movement and ignorant to the fundamentals behind the majority of projects, they often as result also remain immune to the daily use case of the cryptocurrencies they trade. While this is a perfectly reasonable premise for those traders; arguably making very decent incomes using this methodology, in my opinion it doesn’t fit the paradigm of long term, low stress, fundamentals based investment strategy. What concerns me in many projects is that while the premise is often great; upon significant research and peeling back layers, it becomes evident, at-least to me – that the entire market cap of the project is based upon potential of the delivery of product, rather than the existence of workable products that are ready for widespread use, existing customer base and corporate partnerships, and a team behind the project that is actually capable of surviving the implementation phase of a project.

After spending significant time researching, perusing various cryptocurrencies and projects within the space, I landed on Input Output / IOHK and was intrigued. It’s not often that you come across an academically focused cryptocurrency project; and the last one that really comes to mind for me is Red Belly Blockchain. Since researching IOHK, I’ve also become very interested in and I plan to review this project in depth at a later stage, as it is like Cardano, incredibly interesting.

According to their website, IOHK was founded in 2015 by Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood, and is endeavoring to developing Fintech that is capable of providing financial services to the global, especially the three billion people who don’t have access to them. They are an engineering company that is invested in developing blockchains and associated cryptocurrencies for academic institutions, government entities and corporations. They claim to be a “decentralized company that loves small, innovative teams forming and executing ideas that cause cascading disruption”.

What the hell is Cascading disruption?

According to the IOHK website

It is the founding principle of IOHK. Cascading disruption is the idea that most of the structures that form the world’s financial, governance and social systems are inherently unstable and thus minor perturbations can cause a ripple effect that fundamentally reconfigures the entire system. Our company is committed to identifying and developing technology to force these perturbations in order to push towards a more fair and transparent order.

image source:

Those familiar with the IT Industry will be well aware of the market hype and buzzword power of the term Disruption. In my experience, Disruption usually means outages to production environments, systems offline, problems, complaining end users, missing money, stress and a whole hog of other problems. A methodology of deployment of new systems that drags people along kicking and screaming and ignores their ability to conduct their work or remain autonomous.

image source: The Five Stages Of Tech Disruption

The world isn’t just based in the IT Landscape though; and successful disruption projects that come to mind are Apple surpassing Kodak has a camera vendor and Uber demolishing the Taxi vertical. It’s important to remain in a constant state of improvement, lest your project be left behind. This is one of my criticisms of a number of other projects; where Perfect gets in the way of Good Enough. It’s enough to just get a working product to the masses, provided that the core foundation is solid and you have a management process to deal with the inevitable issues and feedback, and start the iterative process to improve that product as time goes on based on your user feedback and changing business requirements demanded on your product by your user base.

Cascading disruption, as to their (IOHK) description seems to be an effort to bring confidence to the process, in that they plan to utilise a system based in incrementalism to introduce small, low risk and palatable changes in a manner that have long term and wider reaching affects. These iterative changes are actually evolutionary changes. Perhaps I’ve been researching in parallel too much, but it really ‘smells’ like AI to me.

I always think of a traditional (and working) project management plan when I review projects, and while I absolutely respect alternative project management methods such as agile – I find it reassuring if the basis of a project does include at-least a nod to doing things ‘the proper way’ (according to someone who rolls out projects in a conservative under-promise over-deliver way) .

So far, the premise and subsequent ideology of how this would be executed seems great to me.

IOHK Projects

Currently IOHK is studying new tools and paradigms for cryptographic research and the architecture of cryptocurrencies. More specifically, we are collaboratively developing an open-source library for universal composability and the Scorex project. We also do for-profit work aligned with our mission, vision and goals.


Cardano is a blockchain platform with more advanced features than any protocol yet developed, and the first to evolve out of a scientific philosophy.

Ethereum Classic

Ethereum Classic (ETC) is a continuation of the original Ethereum blockchain – the classic version preserving untampered history. Free from any external interference.

I had no idea that the IOHK group was behind Ethereum Classic.  While I’m going to focus on Cardano in this article; it is interesting and important to acknowledge this. If you want to get a feel of what the relationship between ethereum and ethereum classic is like – just think of Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash.

If you’re interested in learning more about Ethereum Classic here are some links to get you started on your research journey.

  1. Ethereum Classic – Subreddit
  2. Ethereum and Ethereum Classic What’s the difference?
  3. All that’s new in Classic — October Edition
  4. Grayscale Ethereum Classic Investment Thesis
  5. Eth Classic is Coming Twitter
  6. Eth Classic Twitter
  7. Ethereum Classic Today – Your weekly hit of ETC, BTC, blockchain news and updates
  8. Ethereum Classic Summit

ETC aims to be decentralized, to this end we have three independent dev teams (ETCDEVIOHK, and Ethereum Commonwealth) . We also have the Ethereum Classic Cooperative which helps fund ETC-based projects.

While on the tangent of the other projects that IOHK are involved in, it’s worth listing them all:


  • RS|Coin: A scalable and distributed cryptographic currency framework
  • RS|Coin proposes¹ a framework to implement centrally banked monetary systems based on cryptographic methods in such way that it is possible for a system which uses RS|Coin framework to meet every of the following criteria:
  • The system can handle a massive amount of users and scales well.
  • Transaction times are comparable to those of Mastercard and other payment systems that issue plastic cards.
  • The system is auditable and transparent for all users.
  • The system allows rapid payments in which instruments are sent between two or more commercial banks or other payment systems, which don’t have a partnership agreement. Compliance is ensured by the protocol and no direct communication between the systems of those banks or payment systems is required.
  • For central banks and other possible governors of monetary supply, RS|Coin provides a way to focus on this, off-loading transaction handling to commercial banks and other governed entities.
  • With a simple extension, RS|Coin provides a way to perform extremely fast international transactions with no need for manual work and correspondent banks.

IOHK | Scorex

  • The key feature of Scorex is its modular architecture that allows users to easily choose and combine (1) consensus protocols (2) transactional structures with a (3) networking infrastructure. Scorex consists of a core and various modules that complement the core. All components are built with flexibility, elegance and performance in mind.
  • Scorex contains a variety of existing blockchain solutions as well experimental prototypes that can be combined in order to build an experimental or production-ready cryptocurrency. Scorex makes the process from design of a cryptocurrency to its implementation much shorter and efficient.
  • Scorex is intended to be a foundation for the building of blockchain systems. The developers are in contact with researchers who are working on improved blockchain technologies so that bright ideas can be immediately incorporated into Scorex.
  • The aim of Scorex is to be performant, easy to expand but also safe against all known attacks on blockchains.
  • The developers will add more functionality to Scorex, improve the code’s test coverage, improve the performance and of the networking layer and safeguard the networking layer against DDoS attacks.
  • There is currently a public testnet running with Permacoin as its consensus protocol. More such testnets are planned for the future.


  • Qeditas is a project to apply block chain technology to support the construction of a library of formalized mathematics. It is intended to be a realization (or possibly revival) of the QED project, as described in the QED Manifesto.
  • Spin-Off and Snapshot
    Qeditas is a Bitcoin Spin-Off in the sense of Peter R’s thread:
    The current plan was to take a snapshot of the Bitcoin block chain up to (not including) the block at height 350,000. At that point 2/3 of the Bitcoin distribution was complete. This block should be published on (approximately) March 31, 2015. If you had bitcoins under your (sole) control, then you have a corresponding initial distribution in Qeditas. Your part of the initial distribution is easiest to claim if it is in an ordinary pay-to-public-key-hash (p2pkh) address.
  • Alpha Release qeditas-0.0.1.tar.gz

Ok so they are super smart and ultra busy – but What is Cardano?

Cardano is a security focused blockchain that harnesses the latest research and engineering insights to build a platform suitable for the highest value applications.

Built on a foundation of peer-reviewed research created through partnerships with the world’s foremost universities, Cardano aims to create a platform for decentralised applications and smart contracts that can be processed with a technique called formal verification.

This allows logical proof of the correctness of code and smart contracts, for those applications where value is high and security is paramount. Cardano combines this with an innovative layered approach that separates accounting of value from all other smart contract and computation activity.

This means functionality can be added to smart contract capabilities without changing the protocol responsible for the cryptocurrency.

IOHK | Cardano

The key deliminator between Cardano and other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum or Ripple is that Cardano proposes to be a Generation 3 cryptocurrency.

  1. Generation 1 Blockchain
    Bitcoin was the first out of the gate, but is proving to be cumbersome, updates require forking or layer 2 and layer 3 bolt ons and overlay protocols.
  2. Generation 2 Blockchain
    Ethereum is the example of the second generation blockchain. A good analogy is imaging the jump of internet pages from boring HTML To including JavaScript and Macromedia Flash. It enabled smart contracts, customisable transactions, bespoke to the needs of the particular transaction. It is also showing it’s limitations now as it has grown.
  3. Generation 3 Blockchain
    Cardano is the result of realising that ethereum cannot scale, has a bad governance experience (think of bitcoin/bitcoin cash, ethereum and ethereum classic), and that previous projects have issues with scalability, interoperability and sustainability.

Enter Cardano. I wouldn’t do Cardano justice, in terms of describing it as well as the core members of the team can, so I would absolutely advise you to watch the following videos as a pre-requisite. After you are done, you will find more must watch viewing at the IOHK Youtube Channel.

IOHK | Cardano whiteboard; overview with Charles Hoskinson

IOHK | Cardano whiteboard; development, with Duncan Coutts, PhD.

IOHK | Cardano whiteboard; Ouroboros, with Prof. Aggelos Kiayias, Chief Scientist

Before I continue, a massive shout-out and recognition to the amazing community at the Cardano Subreddit that made the gathering of this information really easy.

The Team

Cardano is made up of three companies who each have distinct roles in the project.

  1. Cardano Foundation: A Swiss non-profit and guardian of the Cardano ecosystem and community. It aims to proactively work with governments and regulatory bodies, as well as forming strategic partnerships with enterprises and other open-source projects to further global adoption of the technology.
  2. IOHK: A world-class engineering and technology company committed to using peer-to-peer innovations to provide financial services to three billion people that don’t have them. The group is contracted to design, build, and maintain the Cardano platform until 2020.
  3. Emurgo: a company formed to integrate, develop and support businesses who want to utilise Cardano’s decentralised blockchain.

The Cardano Team members are listed here.

What is unique about the project?

  • Cardano is the first blockchain project to be built on peer reviewed academic research.
  • This level of scrutiny of the underlying technology is an industry first. Further to this, Cardano is unique in that it’s written in the Haskell coding language.
  • Haskell is considered to be one of the most secure programming languages, minimizing the number of errors and adding extremely robust security to the platform. This includes use of a technique called formal verification, which allows mathematical proof of the correctness of code.
  • Cardano is also designed to operate in regulated industries whilst protecting individual privacy. Applications built on Cardano can be individually customised to meet regulator requirements, but individuals can protect their privacy by choosing whether they want to enter regulated domains.
  • Cardano has a very strong academic heritage and is the first cryptocurrency to have one of its academic papers accepted at Crypto 2017, the leading cryptography conference. IOHK have research centres or partnerships with many of the top global academic institutions including the University of Edinburgh and the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
  • Cardano is a 3rd generation protocol, built with peer review and high assurance standards; backed by a very large international team that is very well funded.


Regulation is now undeniably part of any serious and rational review of a cryptocurrency project and it’s long term viability when talking of scales of months to years. As soon as a project gathers scale, value and adoption, it will only be a short while in my estimation before regulation is both desired by the user base to protect their investment, and pressured by governments who are looking to recapture their tax base.

How can I get Ada?

This article is my opinion; is editorialised and does not constitute financial advice. If you have conducted your own research, due diligence, and want to buy ADA; you can get it at many places including:

How do I send/receive Ada?

You’ll want to start by getting a wallet. Cardano’s development partner IOHK has built the Daedalus wallet, allowing users to securely store their Ada. It will eventually support many different cryptocurrencies.

I installed the Daedalus wallet on a Windows 10 x64 machine without any issue. I did two test transfers which arrived quickly. The confidence / verification of the transactions went from low to high in a matter of a few minutes. All in all it was a very seamless experience for me.

Summary of Thoughts

Charles Hoskinson | Nexus Conference 2017

As time goes on and cryptocurrency gains traction in the public space, the amount of projects to choose from are turning into a plethora of ‘me too’ teams and it’s not often you come across something that has the uniqueness to stand out on it’s on legs; or have the financial and resource backing to actually deliver what it promises. As more and more people enter the space to speculate on values; it’s not uncommon to see projects jump in value based on no underlying fundamentals what so ever. It’s important to deep dive into projects and get a really good idea of whom is behind it and why.

As it exists, there are un-needing ICOs being created that are essentially startups that are using ICOs as a means to generate capital. More power to them, but as ICOs are largely unregulated there is a requirement of investor confidence that the ICO crew manages this money well. As a parallel concern, it must be asked if the project is really just a startup doing a kick-starter and if the blockchain really is required. Statistics for startups in general aren’t the greatest, with most not surviving long term.

I try to find projects that address key requirements for delivery on the long term, and I made this very obvious in my recent article about Ripple.

Those who follow this blog will remember the 7 points I looked to address with Ripple. Let’s use this decision matrix:

  1. Is the project and the currency compliant with the future of regulation and compliance as I believe it will exist.
  2. Is the project backed by a significant team, with credentials and experience that is searchable.
  3. Is the project already operating, and has tangible products.
  4. Is the project addressing a business requirement in the market today and Is the project addressing a specific niche and use case scenario.
  5. Is the project scalable and able to handle significant transaction counts.
  6. Is the project resilient to change over time and able to be updated without issue.
  7. Is the project resistant to impact from Green Policy, Eco-Terrorism and other changes in the Energy Space.

At this point in time, Cardano addresses these, or is making significant steps to address them, or is very capable of addressing them in the future due to it’s ability to use iterative and trans-formative changes without issue.

There is also the continuation of looming ICO regulation issues incoming. The Death of the ICO (And 4 Other 2018 Predictions).

Additional Reading and Resources

  1. Cardano Hub: The main website for all Cardano, from here all information and resources.
  2. The Block Explorer: Search addresses, transactions, epochs & slots on the Cardano network.
  3. The Daedalus Wallet: The open source cryptocurrency wallet for Ada, built to grow with the community.
  4. WHITEPAPER: Philosophy: Confusingly most cryptocurrency projects call this their whitepaper, using the word in a non-academic sense. Here you can learn where the project has come from, and what its goals are. It explains how Cardano embraces the latest academic and engineering insights to build a highly secure Haskell blockchain. Academic Papers: This section hosts the peer-reviewed research papers that are behind Cardano’s technology, including the first provably secure PoS protocol Ouroboros.
  5. Total Max Supply: 45,000,000,000 ADA, Total Ada distributed in Pre-Sale: 25,927,070,538 ADA – Cardano monetary policy document.
  6. The entire Cardano blockchain is completely open source software and is available to see on Github.
  7. There is also extensive technical documentation produced by IOHK which can be viewed here.
  8. The Cardano roadmap is due to be released imminently and will be published here.
  9. Mining and Staking information available here: bootstrap erareward era
  10. Cardano in WSJ
  11. Cardano on Coin Market cap
  12. Charles Hoskinson Twitter
  13. Cardano | $ADA | The Blockchain Reimagined
  14. January is going to be a great month for IOHK and Cardano. I can’t wait. Lot’s of cool stuff coming
  15. Cardano Interview | w/ Charles Hoskinson Data Dash – [01:02:50]
  16. 7 cryptocurrencies to watch in 2018 if you are on the hunt for the next bitcoin – Cardano is one of the 7
  17. What is Cardano? | Beginner’s Guide
  18. Charles Hoskinson on CNBC discussing Cardano