Cosmos: Interoperable Blockchains

Cosmos calls itself the “Internet of Blockchains”. It is a network of blockchains organized into zones and hubs. Each zone plugs into a central hub, but maintains its own governance. The Cosmos hub will be the first multi-asset hub in the network, but the plan is that there will eventually be many hubs. In a hub, you can securely transfer assets from one blockchain to another, meaning you don’t have to visit a cryptoexchange, regardless of the number of validators. You can also scale your network, adding an unlimited number of zones to a hub. It is a permission-less network, meaning that anyone who chooses to can build a blockchain on it.

The Cosmos hub is the network’s first proof-of-stake blockchain; it utilizes Tendermint consensus, contains a built-in governance protocol, and acts as a coordinator for interoperability between different blockchains.

What is Tendermint?

Cosmos is powered by Tendermint, a blockchain software, the goal of which is to securely and consistently replicate an application on multiple machines and “liberate the blockchain from the costs and drawbacks of proof-of-work mining”.

Tendermint aims to make blockchain more accessible to accelerate its adoption. Tendermint allows the user to write smart contracts in any programming language. It can be used to achieve Byzantine fault tolerance (BFT) on any distributed computing platform.

How Will It Work?

Tendermint has put into place a toy cryptocurrency project called Basecoin, which will become the foundation for the Cosmos Hub. Its goal is to become a basis layer for Tendermint-based cryptocurrency applications. It will accommodate a wide range of applications from straightforward cryptocurrencies to complex systems such as Ethereum. Basecoin allows you to send coins from multiple inputs to multiple outputs with the SendTx transaction. It also permits the AppTx transaction and the RunTx interface model, which allows you to extend Basecoin with the functionality of your choice, whether an EVM smart-contract call or an inter-token coin transfer.

Who is Behind Cosmos and Tendermint?

On its website, Cosmos says it is run by the Interchain Foundation (ICF) who contracted a team of developers from Tendermint to develop the new service. In fact, many of the staff at the ICF and Tendermint overlap, including Jae Kwon, Tendermint’s CEO & Founder and Ethan Buchman, Tendermint’s CTO & Cofounder.

Jae Kwon graduated from Cornell in 2005 and then worked as a professional developer in Silicon Valley, including at Alexa and Yelp where he ran the mobile app development team. He previously cofounded iDoneThis, a productivity service and has worked on numerous open-soruce projects.

Ethan Buchman got his Masters from the University of Guelph, Canada in 2016 in machine learning and related topics. Along with being CTO at Tendermint and Cosmos, he runs a cryptoconsulting company called CoinCulture CryptoConsulting, which specializes in research, consulting and education in cryptocurrencies.

What is the Timeline?

The exact launch date is currently unset; but Cosmos’s team says it will launch the Cosmos hub and exchange with a native staking token called Atom soon.

The company roadmap can be viewed here.

Will Cosmos Alter the Blockchain Landscape?

Blockchain applications to date have a number of drawbacks, including poor scalability, the fact that they live in silos and energy inefficiency as a result of mining. Also inter-token trading currently largely takes place via crpytoexchanges, which are typically run by centralized third parties and vulnerable to attack.

Cosmos aims to solve each of these problems through proof-of-stake rather than energy intensive proof-of-work and mining procedures. Its zones can scale infinitely to meet transaction needs.

If following the launch of Cosmos, blockchain apps adopt its inter-blockchain communication (IBC) protocol, a virtual UDP or TCP for blockchains, it will allow for a revolutionary new kind of communication and exchange between different blockchain apps, and could lead to some major new blockchain innovations and shifts in how future financial systems operate.

Further Reading

Cosmos website

Tendermint website

Post on Medium by Jae Kwon, Tendermint’s CEO & Founder

Cosmos White Paper

Basecoin channel

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