What is Cartesi, How it works, and some use cases.

5 min readJan 17, 2022
Cartesi implements a Linux Virtual Machine

What is Cartesi?

If you’re reading this post, you probably have heard about this innovating blockchain project called Cartesi and want to know more about the working fundamentals and why it is one of a kind blockchain. It that’s the case you’re in the right place, so keep reading.

First of all Cartesi is a Layer 2 blockchain technology with the following key features:

- Blockchain Agnostic: as a Layer 2 solution it can be connected to any Layer 1 or Layer 2 blockchain that it has been integrated with (by the time of writing this article is integrated with Ethereum, Polygon, Avalanche, Elrond, and Binance Smart Chain, and there are plans to integrate with others such as Iotex).

So the projects built on Cartesi can work in different several networks with the same code. This is great for portability, imagine that you develop a decentralized app on Cartesi, you could deploy your application in any of those blockchains you consider to, without much effort or the hassle of migrating code and logic.

- Scalable computation: its main goal is to provide scalable computation on top of the limitations that smart contracts have in that regard, without compromising the key benefits of blockchain technology, decentralization and security.

Besides limitations, it isn’t efficient to execute heavy computations on a smart contract itself, that’s not the point of smart contracts and it has no benefits of doing that. So seems obvious to move computations to a layer that can handle them efficiently, faster and with scalability (allocating just the resources required to solve the computation load), but also keeping the security and privacy of the data.

Think of Cartesi as a blockchain that a smart contract from another blockchain can invoke to solve complex problems and receive the data once the execution is finished. We could even depict it as a Blockchain Computation Oracle.

- Linux OS runtime: Linux is the leading open source operating system in many sectors of computer science (servers, databases, development, etc.) with decades of trajectory, because of it’s stability, performance, flexibility and openness (you will be amazed if you knew how many services and things you use, run on Linux).

Cartesi implements a fully compatible Linux OS that gives the former the executing capabilities of the latter. This broadens the smart contracts computation capabilities to a whole new level. Also it provides to Cartesi all the great tools that the Linux ecosystem have been developing throughout the last decades and that have become the standard in many computer engineering fields.

So in brief, Linux gives Cartesi computing super powers for the developer to build apps.

Cartesi Layer 2 nodes can be invoked for off-chain computation

How it works?

This is a broad topic, but we’ll try to put into simple concepts here, so most people can understand what’s the technology behind Cartesi. As of today almost any dApp uses smart contracts to handle the logic that is blockchain related and needs to be exucted in a decentralized fashion. With Cartesi this one tier blockchain logic is turned into a two tier one that follows the following approach.

- A smart contract that is part of a dApp invokes the Cartesi for some kind of heavy computation it needs to resolve.

- Cartesi run the computations off-chain, for that to happen, Cartesi creates a Linux virtual machine suitable for the computation load, a set of Cartesi nodes are then selected to run the computation and get the results. One of the nodes does the computaion itself and submits the results, the other nodes are responsible for checking the validity of the results provided.

- Validated results are then sent back to the smart contract that invoked the execution, and operate that results as the smart contract may need, usually storing some data on-chain related to those computation results.

So with this approach, smart contracts can invoke external computation tasks that can make use of the whole Linux toolset and ecosystem to solve those tasks. It’s important to note that Cartesi has mechanisms to guarantee the validity of the results. The Cartesi Linux machine is deterministic so different nodes running the same computation will obtain always the same result after the process ends, so it can be verified off-chain achieving a local consensus between the nodes and then sending the verified results on-chain.

Virtual Machines with different specs depending on computation load size

What are the use cases?

A common question about Cartesi is, what are the use cases for this? The correct answer for this question is, mostly anything that developers can think of and implement with it, but that wouldn’t solve the doubts of most of the people wondering about. So we are listing a bunch of use cases that we can think of as software engineers.

Games: Cartesi is a very good solution for games that have complex logic to be computed in a decentralized manner, in fact, the team have developed recently a poker game to showcase the capabilities of Cartesi on blockchain game development. Role, strategic, casino, and many other games can benefit from decentralization with Cartesi.

Weather prediction and IoT: systems of particles are very heavy computation tasks that could fit quite well with Cartesi features and help build decentralized systems that could innovate in this regard. For example, building weather prediction apps based on IoT technologies. Imagine a Cartesi dApp doing weather prediction calculations on data gathered by IoT devices sensors registered in an IoT blockchain. The partnership recently announced between Cartesi and Iotex would make this feasible in a very near future.

Traffic route manager: imagine a GPS app such as Waze that uses blockchain as an underlying technology to track all trips, and using Cartesi to do the heavy computation of calculating the traffic routes based on vehicles position and speed. This kind of app could be also developed for airplane or even satellite traffic, and of course could also be integrated with Artificial Inteligence or IoT to give it a more futuristic twist.

You name it, we cannot imagine what the future of blockchain will bring us, because only developers will find out one step at a time, and Cartesi will help reach that promising future sooner.

And that’s all for today, we leave you links below in case you want to investigate a bit further about Cartesi project.




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