Polygon is a framework for creating Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks and scaling solutions.
While usually referred to as a scaling solution, Polygon is more of a protocol than a single solution. In fact, one of Polygon’s key products is an SDK (software development kit) for developers to build scaling solutions that are compatible with Ethereum.
The Polygon Network is just one piece of the protocol.
In 2021 Polygon grew in popularity as various projects sought a more efficient service for their customers. The network is a Proof of Stake (PoS) sidechain that lies parallel to the Ethereum blockchain providing a fast and low-cost platform for Ethereum dApps.
As Polygon supports the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), existing applications can be ported to it with relative ease. This can give users a comparable experience to Ethereum but with a much faster throughput and low fees.
Some dApps that have deployed on the Polygon Network, as well as those native to Polygon, include:
- QuickSwap (native)
- SlingShot (native)
Polygon, the framework, supports two major types of Ethereum-compatible networks:
- Secured chains
- Stand-alone chains
An example for a secured chain is a rollup, while an example of a stand-alone chain is a sidechain.
Secured chains rely on the infrastructure of the chain they are attached to so that they do not have to adopt their own security model. In contrast, stand-alone chains have to take care of their own security. This means that secured chains tend to offer a higher level of security, while stand-alone chains offer more flexibility for specific needs.
The Polygon sidechain is secured by its own set of validators (validator pool) and has to submit checkpoints to Ethereum from time to time. This is why some people say that sidechains are not a “pure” Layer 2 solution. They have to take care of their own security instead of leveraging Ethereum’s security.
$MATIC is the native and governance token for Polygon and is used to pay gas fees and participating in governance. Users can also stake the token on different platforms to earn interest.
Polygon also offers a bridge to help users move funds from another blockchain network to the Polygon sidechain. Users however have to pay mainnet transaction fees since the bridging transaction is on the mainnet.
Once it’s complete, users can enjoy the low fees and fast transactions that Polygon has to offer.
Since Polygon handles its own security, it is thought that this is not as effective as on Ethereum. It is thus possible for malicious actors to collide and take over the network, unlike Ethereum which has addressed this potential blindspot. Rollups also don’t have the same problem as they inherit security from mainnet.
Such attacks however have not happened. In any case, making the decision to deploy on Polygon therefore invovles trading off full security guarantees for faster and low cost transactions.
The Polygon platform aims to support a wider variety of scaling solutions, including:
- Zero-Knowledge (zk) rollups
- Optimistic rollups
- Validum chains
As more of these scaling solutions increasingly become available, developers will have more tools to develop innovative applications, solutions, and products on top of the Polygon Network.
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