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What Is Ontology (ONT)? A Crypto Coin Study

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Trading as “ONT”, and described as “…a high-performance public blockchain project and a distributed trust collaboration platform”, Ontology is a decentralized application (DApp) blockchain based in China.

Despite the confusion with the philosophical study of the same name, Ontology actually has a simple purpose in mind: to make blockchain solutions easy for businesses to use. Here’s how it works.

What Is Ontology?

Ontology launched in 2017 by Erik Zhang and Da HongFei, through their Chinese company OnChain. OnChain was also behind the successful Neo blockchain.

Ontology is:

A public multi-chain project and distributed trust collaboration project

What does that even mean? And how can businesses use blockchain in their applications if they can’t get past the tagline?

Many of the 2000+ blockchains run independently of each other. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tron, Litecoin, and more all run at different speeds, with different stakeholders and different technology stacks. This makes them incompatible with each other, and traditional business applications. You can’t take a DApp written for Ethereum and run it on Bitcoin’s blockchain, for example.

Ontology’s multi-chain aims to solve this problem. By acting as an interface or bridge between different blockchains or a blockchain and a traditional technology system, it’s hoped that Ontology can open up lines of communication and ease the connectivity of unrelated systems.

Ontology’s distributed trust collaboration project is a digital identity of sorts. Two businesses dealing with each over often uses a third party such as a lawyer to bind each other. Ontology aims to become this link, but digitally.

This digital identity may contain information such as a company board of directors, annual turnover, profit and loss, and more. As an individual, it may contain your date of birth, address, social security number and so on. Ontology lets you manage this data, letting you choose how much data to share and with who.

How Does Ontology Work?

To enable you as a user (either business or personal) to manage your data, Ontology supports both a private and a public blockchain. The public blockchain works for general purpose applications and any public data. Your private data (anything you don’t want to share with other parties) lives on your own personal private blockchain.

The main Ontology coin (ONT) is for staking and trading. A second utility token called “ONG” is for on-chain services such as paying for smart contracts.

Ontology’s consensus algorithm is a combination of three different consensus methods. Described as a Next-Generation Consensus Mechanism “VBFT”. It’s based on Verifiable Random Function (VRF), Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT), and Proof of Stake (PoS). This is the Ontology Consensus Engine (OCE).

VRFs power most blockchains. Private keys compute an identifier, which gets verified using the public keys. Only the private key owner can produce these identifiers, but anyone can verify it. VBFT randomly chooses the consensus candidate nodes, and then the confirmation and verification nodes are also randomly chosen. There is some logic to ensure one node or set of nodes is not favored more often than others, but the process is random enough such that prediction is impossible.

This random consensus node process makes VBFT and thus Ontology very hard to manipulate or attack. It’s not possible to control the network by owning the most network power. Neither is it possible to predict the next consensus nodes or target a node to manipulate transactions.

Finally, Ontology’s consensus management system executes on an Ontology smart contract. This uses stake-based voting (like Proof of Stake) to add new nodes to the consensus pool.

If you’d like to learn more about Ontology’s intricate technical details, you can do so in the introductory white paper, or the technical white paper. Finally, the ecosystem white paper outlines Ontology’s vision for their future DApp ecosystem.

How Much Does Ontology Cost?

Ontology Price Chart
Ontology is trading at $1.63 at the time of writing, but like all cryptocurrencies, Ontology has experienced a rollercoaster of price fluctuations. Trading for $0.438 on December 15th 2018, and $11.18 on May 3rd 2018, the current price perhaps represents something of a bargain.

Ontology has a total supply of 1,000,000,000 ONT (1 billion ONT). It currently has a circulating supply of 494,757,215 ONT (494 million ONT).

Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are highly speculative. Nothing is guaranteed in cryptocurrency. Always perform your own research before investing and never commit more money than you are comfortable losing.

Where Can You Buy Ontology?

For such a heavy hitter of a token, Ontology isn’t available on many of the household name exchanges such as Bittrex. Binance is the largest exchange you can buy Ontology on, but roughly 27% of its trading volume comes from Bibox through the ONT/USDC trading pairs. On this same exchange, another 14% trading volume derives from the ONT/BTC trading pairs.

What Is Ontology’s Future Potential?

By aiming for business users, Ontology has a huge and lucrative market to target. Bridging the gap between blockchains and traditional systems, or blockchains and other blockchains is a worthwhile cause and one in which the market is in need of. If they can make it work, Ontology will be massive.

Ontology’s approach to making life easy for businesses may pay dividends in the long term, even if this comes at the expense of complexity. Ontology may be easy to develop DApps on, but it makes this blockchain itself very complex and increases the learning time for anyone who wishes to work on Ontology itself. Still, abstracting the complexity to the blockchain rather than the smart contract is a great way to make lives easy for business users.

As blockchain projects become more ingrained in our everyday lives, the need for a blockchain to unite businesses becomes clear.

Join the Ontology Community

If you’d like to know more about Ontology or want to stay informed of any community developments, then make sure you join these Ontology communities:

  1. Da HongFei Twitter
  2. Erik Zhang Twitter
  3. Offical Discord group
  4. Offical Facebook page
  5. Official GitHub repository
  6. Offical Twitter account
  7. Official website

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @blocksdecoded, and let us know what you think of Ontology!

Joe Coburn
Joe is a former software developer with a degree in computer science from the University of Lincoln, UK. As a writer at MakeUseof.com, Joe has seen his work shared by Adobe, the Arduino Foundation, and Lifehacker. Joe has collaborated with Anker, BenQ, iStock, Ledger, Ultimate Ears, and many more. Joe loves all aspects of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, particularly the technical details.
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