The Aelf (ELF) Project Explained in 7 Simple Steps

Aelf is an enterprise-grade cloud computing blockchain network that boasts of being capable of processing more than 15, 000 transactions per second (TPS) and has received several awards, global certifications, and partnerships for being one of the most innovative blockchain technology projects.

This post is submitted into the Aelf Explainer Contest hosted on Publish0x in May 2020 and is tailored towards the average crypto investors and users. The original post can be found here. If you’re a developer or interested in the technical aspects of the project I suggest you visit their github and slack channels.

Blockchain technology is becoming a household name with almost every major organization and governments around the world, building or developing one “blockchain” technology project or another as we aim for mass adoption.

New projects are being released to the market almost every other week; all claiming to be solving one blockchain problem or another. From scalability, decentralization. interoperability, performance, to network governance problems.

One of such promising projects is aelf.


1. What is Aelf (ELF)?

Aelf is a decentralized cloud computing blockchain network that aims to provide industrial-grade, scalable, resource segregated, high performance, blockchain architecture, under a self-evolving governance structure; and ELF is the native cryptocurrency of the network.

Envisaged to be the “Linux of Blockchain Operating Systems”, Aelf is a highly customizable, upgradeable, versatile and high-performance blockchain operating system tailored towards commercial applications.

The Aelf Blockchain provides a highly efficient, multi-chain, parallel-processing blockchain infrastructure that is suitable for various commercial requirements and equipped with cross-chain communication capability.

Aelf aims to solve one real problem, to integrate the blockchain technology into real-world business processes, systems, and operations by providing a robust platform upon which businesses can build and develop their applications at scale.

If you’re more of a visual learner or you’re short on time to read the entire post right now, I suggest you watch this 2 minutes explainer video by the aelf team, highlighting how the aelf blockchain works. But it is highly recommended you read the entire post to get all the details.
Aelf Video Explainer

2. The Aelf Team

The aelf project is run by a team of experienced IT and business experts –including MIT graduates, professors, consultants, and of course, reputable advisors that include the CEO of TechCrunch (J. Michael Arrington) among others.

The founder and CEO of Aelf –Ma Haobo is described as a Blockchain expert, crypto early adopter Ex-CTO (chief technology officer) of GemPay, and also the founder and CEO of Hoopox.

Ma is also a member of the Blockchain Experts’ Commission of the Chinese Institute of Electronics and China Computer Federation according to the information on the aelf website.

Check out the project’s website for a complete list of the other members of the Aelf team.

More so, the project is fully backed by some reputable investors and funds such as Bitmain, Draper Dragon, ChainFunder, FBG Capital, Consensys Capital, and a host of other over 3 dozen lead investors. The full list is readily available on the aelf website.

Aelf Lead Investors

3. Aelf Unique Features and Technology Explained:

There have been highly innovative blockchain projects but Aelf brings an entirely revolutionary solution to the table. What features make Aelf stand out from the crowd?

  1. Multi-layer side chains
  2. Cross-chain interaction (Blockchain interoperability)
  3. Parallel processing of transactions
  4. Highly customizable to suit each business requirements 
  5. Self-evolving governance structure


3.1. Multi-layer side chains

The blockchains you’re used to, such as bitcoin and ethereum processes all transactions on the mainchain (in fact there’s only one chain and that’s the main chain); as a result during times of high transaction volumes transactions on these networks will take longer time to confirm and dApps built on them will become extremely slow when used by a large number of people. Remember, these blockchains have very low TPS levels which limit how many transactions they can process at a time.

To solve this problem, aelf proposes to use multiple blockchains under the same network (a multi-chain network). There will be a “main chain” and “side chains” that are connected to and interact with each other.

Each side chain is ideally designed to handle a specific type or set of transactions specified by the creator. For example, a particular side chain could be specifically for say token issuance (ICO), insurance database, in-game transactions, etc, and their consensus protocol, node delegation, chain privacy, and various other chain qualities can be tailored to best support the specific business requirements.

These side chains operate independently of one another. Smart contracts on the network are deployed and executed from their respective side chains rather than through the main chain. As a result, each side chain is unaffected by any network congestion on another side-chain, and consistently high transaction speed is guaranteed across all chains.

Side chains can only interact with the main chain. The main chain serves as the clearinghouse and transactions involving multiple chains are verified by each chain involved by contacting the main chain.

The main chain knows the state of all side chains that are connected to it and thus it is impossible for one side chain to deceive another (intentionally or ignorantly).


3.2. Cross-chain interaction

The aelf blockchain is capable of interoperating with external blockchains such as bitcoin, ethereum, or any other blockchain for that matter via what it calls a blockchain adaptor.

More interesting is the fact that anyone can deploy a bitcoin side chain or a side chain for any other external blockchain on the aelf OS.


3.3. Parallel Processing of Transactions

Remember, as stated above, each side chain is created to perform certain, specific kinds of transactions. More so, every side chain has its own set of nodes that process and validate transactions on the side chain.

To ensure efficient utilization of network resources, independent transactions (transactions that do not have to be processed together) are batched and distributed among the available nodes and processed simultaneously (at the same time).

Thereby drastically minimizing the time it takes to confirm transactions on the network and maximizing the overall processing speed of the network.

The capacity of the network can be easily scaled to accommodate more transactions simply by adding more computers to the nodes network rather than having to upgrade the node computers’ hardware.


3.4 High Customisable Modules

Unlike other blockchains where you have to build whatever you want to build with the tools and resources available, on aelf, developers can go as extreme in their imagination as they can and build world-class applications to do just whatever they want it to do.


This is best stated in the words of aelf itself:

“The largest challenge facing the commercial-scale adoption of Blockchain technology is its current inability to meet the requirements of multiple, diverse, and complex business scenarios. Naturally, different scenarios often have different characteristics in terms of process and execution logic, and thus require distinct solutions. Therefore, the “one size fits all” Blockchain approach that is currently utilized by other chains is not viable if Blockchain is to succeed in the future. For example, ticket issuance requires high frequency where a high transaction rate in the system is desirable, while
digital legal contracts emphasize high security and reliability over speed. It simply does not make sense for them both to be built around the same Chain”.

You can build a side chain based on the PoS algorithm for one business process or function and another side chain based on the PoW (proof of work) mechanism fo another business function all on aelf network.

And each chain can have its own specific rules, ecosystem, processes, and transaction execution logic.


3.5. Self-evolving Governance Structure

The aelf project uses a dynamic governance model. According to aelf (modified for clarity as I understand it) “whatever decisions ‘the community’ makes is good for the future of aelf”.

The future of aelf is in the hands of ELF token holders and the network will evolve in the best interest of the token holders, especially those with tokens locked-in for the long term.

Through its “voting” system Aelf HODLers have the ability to vote on network decisions.

For example, decisions such as:

  1. Whether each side chain should host their own delegated node,
  2. Whether the participating side chain will be public or private,
  3. To determine the size and the speed of the side chain,
  4. Whether to remove or add side chains to the network, etc.

… Are made through the voting system, thus empowering network participants to be actively involved in and contribute to the continued development of the blockchain.


5. The Aelf Blockchain

The Aelf Blockchain is built on the Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) algorithm and provides the blockchain infrastructure as a service solution to developers and businesses to build their projects on the Aelf blockchain.

It is interesting to note that Aelf itself does not aim to build side chains but will provide the framework, template and the infrastructure for the development of side chains, and also facilitate communications between the main chain, side chains and sub-side-chains in a multilateral system.

Also, one of the beautiful things about the Aelf blockchain is that the consensus protocol is customizable to the specific requirement and objectives of the clients.

Each side chain on the Aelf network has its own eco-system which votes to determine the indexing strategy for connecting sub-chains.

These side chains can specify their own indexing rules for sub-chains, independent of the main-chain, including setting up to its own fees structure and networking strategy.

More so, “any chain can also decide not to include any sub-Chain or actively invite a chain to become a sub-chain as a means to enrich its eco-system. Within the Aelf ecosystem, any chain can apply to become a sub-chain of another chain or even multiple chains”.

“The Aelf blockchain consists of one main chain and multiple side chains attached to the main chain. This differs from a traditional single-chain system in that aelf is a ‘branched eco-system’ where the main chain works as the backbone of the system and connects to multiple side chains. Aelf connects with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other Blockchain systems via adaptor in order to be compatible with existing popular eco-systems. Aelf side chains include the system built-in aelf side chains and other chains generated based on the aelf operating system or aelf kernel. The main chain interacts with the side chains by side chain dynamic indexing”.


6. The Aelf Tokenomics (Token Economics) and Governance Structure

A sustainable and prosperous blockchain ecosystem is built on a robust and transparent tokenomics.

Anybody can develop their smart contracts and deploy them on the Aelf network. Connected chains pay a certain transaction fee to the main chain for indexing.

Aelf uses a dynamic transaction fee strategy to reflect the different contribution levels of each side chain to the Aelf ecosystem. Sidechains that contribute more, in terms of higher transaction volume pay a lower transaction fee.

On the other hand, side chains with little value to the ecosystem will be charged a higher transaction fee.

More so, existing sub-side-chains pay their fees to the parent side chain that they’re connected to.

6.1 Aelf Token (ELF) Supply

The project ran a private token sale back in December 2017, where 25% (250, 000, 000) of the total token supply of 1, 000, 000, 000 ELF was sold and distributed to private investors.

The rest of the token supply was shared among the Team, Partners, Advisors, the Aelf Foundation and a reserve to be used as mining rewards.

Below is the specific share of each party and project segment.

Aelf Token Distribution

  • 250,000,000 (25%) goes to the Aelf Foundation with 3 years vesting period
  • 160,000,000 (16%) goes to the Aelf Team with 2 years vesting period
  • 120,000,000 (12%) is earmarked for Marketing and Airdrops over a 3 years period
  • 120,000,000 (12%) is allocated for mining reward over a period of 100 years
  • 100,000,000 (10%) goes to the project Advisors and Partners with 2 years vesting period

As at the time of writing this post, the ELF token is ranked #121 and trading just above 7 cents as per data from CoinGecko.


6.2. Aelf (ELF) Token Use Cases

The ELF tokens are used to pay resource fees on the Aelf network and are charged for such activities as:

  1. The deployment of smart contracts,
  2. Operating and upgrading of systems (transaction fees, cross-chain data transfer fees, etc.)

The token also enables the community to vote on major on-chain decisions, such as electing mining nodes, introducing new features to the system, and other major decisions, which collectively enable the self-evolution capability of the Aelf network.


7. The Aelf Decentralized Autonomous Organisation (DAO)

On April 17, 2020, the Aelf Foundation released the DAO Management System Draft establishing the DAO with the goal of stimulating community initiative and empowering community members to the activities involved in the decision-making process of the blockchain.

The Foundation is a non-profit entity, with the primary goal of promoting the development of the Aelf technology and its various applications while facilitating corporations and startups to establish on top of Aelf or transform their existing infrastructure into blockchain systems on top of the aelf blockchain.

The Aelf Foundation will implement a comprehensive management and governance model, fully compliant with relevant regulations and applicable laws in Singapore.


Final Thought on the Aelf Project

Aelf calls itself “the next breakthrough in blockchain technology” developed for commercial applications. The team recently released the aelf mainnet roadmap on March 5, 2020, which details the project’s 4-stage development plan.

Stage 1 is already kickstarted as we speak and hopefully, the mainnet should be live in a year or so (I am not part of the team and have never spoken with even a single member of the team before; so take my estimate with a grain of salt).

This project makes bold promises, has a solid team, and some good money behind it.


Will it deliver?

We can only wait, watch and see as the team does what they know how to do best – BUIDL.

Wait. Did you know the Aelf Blockchain was first named Grid Blockchain?


Ok, now you know.

You will also enjoy reading: NEAR Protocol Review: Everything You Need to Know

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