Cardano Monthly Product Management Update for March - 31/03/2020

Cardano Monthly Product Management Update for March - 31/03/2020

(Written by @Eric_Czuleger)

On the 31st of March 2020 the product management team of IOHK came together to give the first live public update on each aspect of Cardano. During the broadcast questions were answered but since the platform does not allow hyperlinks to specific moments I will give time codes for specific questions and product manager introductions.

The purpose of this meeting is to give an update from the product management team of IOHK. In the future individuals from the CF and EMURGO as well as the wider community might be brought in, but for the moment, the product management team is blazing the trail.

Aparna Jue: Product Director for Cardano (0:50)

Cardano is more than a solution; it is a purpose driven platform with real world applications. A bit about Aparna: Aparna Jue has been working on innovative solutions with real market use cases throughout her career and that is what brings her to IOHK.

Cardano has been built on great research and formal methods. This is how high assurance code happens. In terms of product management, it is important for us to ask fundamental questions. Why are we putting in a feature? Who is this for? What will the experience look like? Ultimately we get to the question of how.

Our purpose is not to design the product, it is to help the experts make the best decisions possible. A product manager at IOHK puts context to the real world application of whatever they are building with real world research. We have a great community with incredible research, we are attempting to build a feedback loop into the platform as a whole.

In the end we are building a technology platform that can be exponentially innovative to so many real world use cases. To make this last it must have a level of high assurance and user based input so that we are prioritizing and building the right things. This boils down to listening to what is being asked of us. It also relates to listening to the tests around the products.

The ITN is a great showcase of the community based feedback loop. We recently ran a focus group with stake pool operators and what we found was that the Incentivized Testnet is a great example of collaboration between IOHK, the community, stake pool operators and EMURGO.

Joining us to talk about this is Dynal Patel.

Dynal Patel, ITN Product Manager (5:34)

The ITN has exceeded our expectations. We have developed over 1000 stake pools on chain with 17,000 people delegating to stake pools. 38 percent of the ada supply has been delegated. There have been 250 unique clones of the node. Missing tools were built by the community. In the end we have been so grateful to everyone who participated in the ITN.

The key things we have heard from the stake pool operators include the following: They wanted all information consolidated in one place and our economic model to make sense for stake pool operators. We are also looking at communication methods between stake pool operators and delatores. There was some concern about a race to the bottom as larger staking operations come online.

Stake pool operators in the ITN also wanted to discuss how to promote their individual stake pools. Cloning and stopping bad behavior were chief on the list of concerns going into the next testnet and the oncoming Shelley mainnet. There were conversations around group training sessions for stake pool operators as well. The notes from this stake pool operator focus group have been written up and they will eventually be available for anyone interested.

The ITN has been a pathfinder on the route to Shelley mainnet. There have been key takeaways from technical, game theory, and messaging levels. As a team we looked at all of the teams and stakeholders to examine the lessons learned by the ITN. This was done through surveys and workshops over the last month. This resulted in over 300 actions in our work stream. We will continue to improve the product over the course of the year based on these suggestions.

Aparna Jue (12:55)

Now that we have the Byron reboot deployed we want to talk about why it matters. Byron is the foundation. If you think about concentric circles, Byron is the innermost circle which is based on fundamentals, performance reliability, sync times, things of this nature. Around that is a layer of integrations and interactions that allow users to build and integrate. Finally, we have the user experience, and workflow.

Taking this concentric view it is about building a product that lasts longer. The outer layer is what makes people consider using Cardano. The interaction layer makes that easier for adoption. The core makes the performance and reliability stick. Byron sets up these fundamentals.

For the community it relates to performance and reliability. The reboot allows us to go into an evidence based technology method. This is absolutely at the core of what we do. We also have multiple teams coming together to work on their piece of the pie. The Byron reboot helps us all work together from a common core.

In terms of testing, at the performance level our developers use QuickCheck for properties based testing. This is a chance for them to try these high level properties on a mathematical level. This brings out bugs and issues that one wouldn’t be able to catch in regular QA. We’ve found so-called exotic bugs which are incredibly difficult to find when assuring software.

The next level of testing is integration testing and QA. The next level of testing is the community. Putting out releases and listening for feedback helps us to make the platform better. Ultimately, this is a community product. To make a true software product that is agile, the community needs to be involved.

Kevin Hammond, Formal Methods Engineer/Product Manager (19:04)

The Byron reboot aims to help with performance and reliability. This will underpin all future development that we are doing. We have rewritten Byron from the ground up. We have done this with a view towards future development including delegation for Shelley and smart contracts for Goguen.

Another important thing that we have done is to deploy our formal but agile development methodology. This allows us a great deal of speed, particularly behind the scenes. With this methodology we have proven key aspects of the ledger rules. We know that ada will be preserved. We have been able to translate this into QuickCheck tests. On top of this we have been able to incorporate changes and improvements from the stake pool operator feedback,

Haskell Shelley testnet

The great thing about the Shelley code is that about 80 percent of it is the Byron code. So all of the improvements that we’ve been working on will find their way into Shelley. We will roll this out first by running an internal testnet on the new Shelley node code. We will then open this up to a few operators, exchanges, and other key partners. This will be a phased test.

This is aimed at systematically testing all of the features which will be important while making sure that the documentation that we have is absolutely first rate. We hope that we will have documentation as good or better than the documentation for the ITN.

Having gone through the first phase of opening up the testnet we will then open it up to the world. At this point we allow general users to come try it out. We believe that this will be a short run up to mainnet because most things will have been tested. We will have a lot of confidence that things will work. During this testnet phase we will be onboarding pool operators and fine tuning parameters. Finally, it should be very easy for existing stake pools to carry over their existing infrastructure to get everything up and running.

Tim Harrison, Marketing and Communications Director (26:29)

In terms of marketing it is mostly about building awareness and understanding for each phase of the rollout. With the ITN we were able to meet with key stakeholders and stake pool operators to understand what their needs. These will be taken through to the rest of our plans.

We are working with McCann, and the CF in order to build our core product benefits based on the implementation of the product. We are shaping the messaging for each era, obviously Goguen will attract a different audience than Shelley. Ultimately, this is about building a brand around the USPs and keeping everyone informed with a regular cadence of information.

Kevin Hammond (29:10)

In the next few weeks we will be reaching out to certain key stakeholders and pool operators to begin testing out the network. We will also be releasing documentation and other information. Users will be able to download and install the code as a standard AWS instant. We can’t say when this will happen exactly, but we encourage everyone to stay tuned.

Darko Mijić, Product Manager for Daedalus (30:24)

Everything started with the ITN. The Cardano community helped us build stake pools as well as the Daedalus wallet for the ITN. We are now making the pre-release version of Daedalus, Daedalus flight. They can now download this wallet alongside their current Daedalus wallet and this allows them to help us find issues so that we can solve those issues. This is akin to beta testing like Google Canary.

It will allow us to move to production more quickly. This is essentially a parallel wallet which gives a user the opportunity to give feedback to the developers. It is separately downloaded, it doesn’t touch the original version of Daedalus so funds are entirely safe. Any issues will not harm the ada in the production version of Daedalus.

VISUAL Daedalus Demonstration (36:26-42:32)

Nick Nayfack, Product Manager for Adrestia (44:02)

Adrestia is a series of APIs and libraries that make interacting with the Cardano core node easier. As it stands there are a great many repos in Github, so it’s often not easy for people to interact with the core node. Adrestia allows people to have a Cardano wallet at their disposal and to manage UTXOs to do things on their behalf. It also allows exchanges to take advantage of our node to client protocol.

A lot of exchanges have become more sophisticated in their integrations. Previously address management and UTXO interactions were more difficult. Now its clear that exchanges want a deeper reach into the Cardano node and to be more resilient in the face of rapid change on our side. Adrestia allows people to interact with a stable set of libraries so that there are no breaking changes with every hard fork.

Ultimately this is about adoption. We are building a coherent set of SDKs across a regular release cycle. This means that exchanges will not have to keep up with changes, in fact we can manage those changes on their behalf. We can’t talk about the exchanges we work with but we are creating a high performance method of integrating and maintaining our changing codebase given our expanded focus and expanded release cycle. This is all available through open repos. These libraries will start coming live as we approach Shelley.

Rob Cohen, Product Manager for Hydra (50:00)

Ouroboros is an evolution of protocols. The original Ouroboros paper, Classic introduced the protocol as an energy efficient proof-of-stake protocol. It also introduced using secure NPC to generate unbiased randomness in the selection of slot leaders. Since then there have been a number of different protocols developed to iterate and improve upon this like Ouroboros BFT. This is the transition from the old Cardano code base to the new Cardano node.

Ouroboros Praos will be introduced during Shelley and it will allow decentralization. It provides better security assumptions. It assumes a semi-synchronous setting for example. Ouroboros Genesis is an iteration on Praos which gives it a novel chain selection rule which allows bootstrapping from Genesis, this allows the same security guarantee as Bitcoin without checkpoints to synchronize.

Genesis proved the security of Ouroboros under universal composability. This means that it has gone through a huge amount of effort and work to prove that Ouroboros is highly secure. Moving from there we are now going to Hydra.

The recently published paper was about the Hydra protocol. This allows vastly increased scalability with Cardano. Hydra is an off chain scalability architecture for distributed ledgers. It can be used on other distributed ledger technologies. It allows high transaction throughput, low latency, and minimal storage per node. Hydra is our second layer solution for Cardano.

The scalability architecture can be divided into 4 elements. There is the head protocol, this is what enables a set of high performance and availability participants like stakepools to quickly process a large number of transactions by way of isomorphic multi-party state channels. This generalizes two party payment channels like in Lightning. Except instead of two participants we can include multiple participants.

After the head protocol will come the tail protocol. That will be available in a paper coming up. This will provide scalability for high performance actors for many participants even on low powered machines like phones. We will also work on the cross-head and tail protocol. These core protocols will be bolstered by others which can deal with routing, channel management, and channel virtualization. This is what Hydra has to offer.

Scalability means being able to release a set of killer applications. One that many are focused on is micropayments. We foresee a future where Hydra is responsible for 99 percent of transactions within the Cardano ecosystem. It is important to get to a place where we can get to a place where transactions and smart contracts can execute with virtually no cost if they are conducted with a Hydra head.

In terms of TPS we can easily accomplish 1000 TPS per second per head. This is a parallelizable protocol. By parallelizing each head you can share bandwidth with participants. We could make claims about high TPS, but it comes down to the architecture of the underlying network. We’re happy to report that it comes close to the theoretical maximum of communications…


What differentiates Cardano from competition? (59:03)