Cardano is a groundbreaking proof-of-stake blockchain network, being developed into a decentralized application (DApp) development platform with a multi-asset ledger and verifiable smart contracts. Built with the rigor of high-assurance formal development methods, Cardano aims to achieve the scalability, interoperability, and sustainability needed for real-world applications. Cardano is designed to be the platform of choice for the large-scale, mission-critical DApps that will underpin the economy of the future.
Based on peer-reviewed academic research, Cardano has an ethos of openness and transparency. All of the research and technical specifications that underpin Cardano are publicly published, and all Cardano development activity is made available to the public. Cardano is designed by a global team of experts who are leaders in disciplines ranging from distributed systems to programming languages and game theory and is jointly developed by IOHK and partners. IOHK develops the technology, the Cardano Foundation is responsible for supervising development and promoting Cardano, while Emurgo drives commercial adoption. While we are building Cardano, we are merely custodians. When the network is fully decentralized it will belong to the community, and it will be the community who decide its future through advanced governance features.
The Cardano roadmap is a summary of Cardano development, which has been organized into five eras: Byron, Shelley, Goguen, Basho, and Voltaire. Each era is centered around a set of functionalities that will be delivered across multiple code releases.
While the eras of Cardano will be delivered sequentially, the work for each era happens in parallel, with research, prototyping, and development often in progress all at once across the different development streams.
The work of each era is gathered and presented on its dedicated page, representing years of effort. Here you will find an overview of the goals of the era, as well as descriptions of the core functional components, links to associated academic research, status updates, and even real-time code commits.
Unlike many other blockchains, Cardano does not rely on technical foundations taken from Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency systems. Instead, IOHK works with world-leading academics on fundamental research, most of which is subject to academic peer review, with papers presented at top-tier international conferences. The work on all major components and functional areas begins with such research to determine what is possible and what is the best way to accomplish it.
In collaboration with the research team, a technical prototyping team experiments with implementations of the functions and approach described in the research. The objective is to make what is theoretically possible actually possible while learning lessons about real-world technical and functional implementation issues, enabling the creation of technical specifications for building the actual product.
In collaboration with prototyping, technical specifications are created and published based on research and prototyping results, setting out expected functionality and behavior. These specifications ensure that the final code implementation is true to the original vision of the research, accomplishes the required functionality, and is technically feasible.
IOHK engineers make great use of formal development methods: rigorous, mathematical techniques for testing that software works exactly as intended. Typically only employed in high-stakes applications such as avionics software, systems for space flight, or high-volume banking software, IOHK is applying this level of rigor to Cardano development in a blockchain industry first.
IOHK embraces functional programming languages, most notably Haskell. Not only are functional programming languages less prone to ambiguity and human error than other languages, they are easier to test and verify from a mathematical standpoint, strengthening IOHK’s commitment to high-assurance formal development.