Skip to main content

A Knowledge-Oriented Approach to Enhance Integration and Communicability in the Polkadot Ecosystem

  • Team Name: MOBR Systems

  • Payment Address: 0x504779E1d616Ff75aFA0D4417bc2A5cCB678c671 (USDC)

  • Level: 2

Project Overview 📄

Overview

This project is an R&D initiative towards enhancing integration and communicability in the Polkadot ecosystem. The first step encompasses a theoretical contribution to map, structure and formalize Polkadot's multi-chain environment concepts and relationships, by adopting an ontological approach. Afterwards, we expect this ontological framework to be applied on the building of a controlled natural language (CNL) and a querying engine for the Polkadot ecosystem.

Ontologies represent concepts and relationships in a manner that approximate the way humans perceive interconnected abstractions, while promoting machine reasoning on top of that representation to offer insights to users, developers and intelligent applications. In addition to supporting reasoning capability, ontologies provide a coherent and easy interpretation, enhancing communication in the ecosystem. They allow users to navigate from one concept to another, supporting the current understanding about the fundamentals of the modeled domain, and also its natural expansion. The R&D process and contributions will be documented in a scientific paper and an ontology representation. Both will be publicly available on github.

Initially, the proposed ontology will focus on the Polkadot multi-chain environment to identify, describe and relate core concepts of the technology. That is, we will create a conceptual framework that represents the ecosystem behind Polkadot, including parachains, nodes, transaction settlement, cross-chain communication, assets, primitives, etc. With the fundamental aspects defined, it would be possible to expand the ontology to model the concepts and relationships between the Substrate blockchain framework and Polkadot’s canary network, Kusama.

Moving forward with the state-of-the-art and innovation that tackles real issues is what inspires the MOBR team. As an R&D-oriented startup, we target research opportunities where we can apply AI in a user-centric approach. As Web3 developers and enthusiasts, we are always looking for potential improvements for the technology and its community. The lack of a formal definition and terminology for blockchain environments is an open issue, since it remains open to interpretation and does not offer a consistent representation for its developers, users, and applications.

Project Details

  • The problem

There is no doubt that the Polkadot's multi-chain environment is a highly disruptive platform. However, the lack of a formal definition of its terminology is an issue since it remains open to interpretation and does not offer a structured representation for its applications. Currently, Polkadot literature is predominantly written either from a purely technical or from an economical perspective. Aiming at supporting the growth of the Polkadot community in both formal knowledge and applications, it is critical that users, developers, and stakeholders have a formal and fundamental understanding on how the platform is built and how it works. Without such formal representation, application developers may struggle to integrate software components and data, as well as to build querying and reasoning features in a standardized manner. Unstructured development combined with lack of expressiveness about the ecosystem may jeopardize interoperation and wide adoption of Polkadot, especially in heterogeneous socio-technical environments.

  • Research questions/hypothesis

The general research question we want to answer is: how a knowledge-oriented approach may benefit the communicability, integration, usage and development of blockchains?

And more specifically, how an ontology-supported development impacts design and building of Polkadot’s parachains and cross-chain communication?

  • The methodology

Our approach will begin by conducting a comprehensive literature review to identify key concepts and principles in ontologies for blockchains. This includes studying the existing applications and ontological frameworks that have been developed for blockchains, as well as other relevant research in the fields of symbolic representation. Once the key concepts and principles have been identified, the next step is to create a conceptual framework that incorporates and relates these concepts and principles. This framework will be designed to express the fundamental entities and relationships that govern the Polkadot ecosystem, and will be flexible enough to accommodate the ongoing evolution of the technology. With the conceptual framework specified, the next step will be applying it to a specific Polkadot-related use case scenario. This includes conducting case studies to explore the future application of the ontological framework to support the building of a controlled natural language (CNL) and a querying engine in Polkadot's multi-chain environment. Another important aspect of creating an ontology is to engage with experts from application domains to gain their insights and perspectives. This engagement helps to ensure that the ontological framework is grounded in real-world experience and reflects the current understanding of representative personas in the applied fields. In this sense, the final step of the proposed approach is to present and discuss the ontology with members of the Polkadot team.

  • Data collection and analysis procedures

An ontology is a representation of a set of concepts within a domain and the relationships between those concepts. The data collection consists in the search for relevant concepts and their relationships. The initial data for defining the basics of the ontology will be collected through analysis of the available literature, including technical reports from Polkadot documentation. The engagement with the Polkadot team will also produce valuable data to be collected and analyzed. During the consolidation of the basic ontology, analysis will be carried out qualitatively. In the future, after having a consolidated ontology, dynamic tests can be developed to assess more quantitative aspects regarding the coverage of the formal definition.

  • Expected results

The main expected result is an ontology representing the fundamental entities and relationships that govern the Polkadot ecosystem. We will work with the grants team to conduct a qualitative analysis to assess the correctness of the model.

  • Relevant related work

Researchers have been exploring the potential applications and support of ontology to the field of blockchain and DApps in general. For example, ontology has been used to study the concept of trust in blockchain systems, to develop more robust and secure smart contract systems, and to address potential ethical and philosophical issues in the use of blockchain technology [1, 2, 3].

Currently, blockchain literature is predominantly written either from a purely technical or from an economic perspective. The use of ontologies in blockchain is an emerging field with significant potential for bridging both technical and economic perspectives, advancing the understanding of this technology while improving its design and use. Research is needed to better explore the potential use cases and applications on top of formal ontologies and to develop a comprehensive ontological framework for this type of technology.

[1] Besançon, L., Da Silva, C. F., Ghodous, P., & Gelas, J. P. (2022). A Blockchain Ontology for DApps Development. IEEE Access, 10, 49905-49933.

[2] Hang, L., Chen, C., Zhang, L., & Yang, J. (2022). Blockchain for applications of clinical trials: Taxonomy, challenges, and future directions. IET Communications.

[3] Baqa, Hamza & Truong, Nguyen & Crespi, Noel & Lee, Gyu Myoung & Le Gall, Franck. (2019). Semantic Smart Contracts for Blockchain-based Services in the Internet of Things. 1-5. 10.1109/NCA.2019.8935016.

  • Intended venue for results publication and the timeline for publication

We deem the proposed work would be a good fit for venues such as the following:

International Congress on Blockchain and Applications (ICBA)

IEEE International Conference on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency (ICBC)

International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC)

In terms of timeline, and considering 4 months of project, it will depend on the dates for these venues.

For the ISWC 2023, the dates are still TBD. But considering the 2022 calendar, it would be possible to submit by Q2-Q3 and publish by Q3-Q4 in 2023.

For the ICBA 2024, the submission would be at Mar/2024 and the publication would be around July 2025.

For the ICBC 2024, the submission would be at Dec/2023 and the publication would be around May/2024

  • What the project is not or will not provide or implement

Our research proposal is a first-step towards creating a rich and convenient asset for performing query searching and data analytics on the Polkadot's multi-chain environment. For now, we are proposing a conceptual model that will be capable of formalizing the key Polkadot concepts and their relationships. In this proposal we are not considering the development and deployment of any functional asset or prototype, but specifically the ontology representation and a case study to explore the future application of the ontological framework to support building a controlled natural language (CNL) and a query engine in Polkadot’s multi-chain ecosystem.

Ecosystem Fit

As mentioned, the proposed ontology will focus on the Polkadot multi-chain environment to identify, describe and relate core concepts of the technology. That is, we will create a conceptual framework that represents the ecosystem behind Polkadot, including parachains, nodes, transaction settlement, cross-chain communication, assets, primitives, etc. With the fundamental aspects defined, it would be possible to expand the ontology to model the concepts and relationships between the Substrate blockchain framework and Polkadot’s canary network, Kusama.

  • Target audience (parachain/dapp/wallet/UI developers, designers, your own user base, some dapp's userbase, yourself)?

The target audience is the Web3 community in general, and those specifically interested in the Polkadot multi-chain ecosystem, since we will provide a formal definition of the Polkadot terminology.

  • What need(s) does your project meet?

At first, the need for a formal definition addressing the issue of having a terminology open to interpretation or that does not offer a structured representation for its applications. In the future, the project will allow ecosystem users and developers to retrieve and manipulate data from Polkadot using a controlled natural language. That is, users will be able to intuitively and correctly specify their queries. For instance: How many transactions were carried out for the past 30 min on all parachains? What are the top five wallets with DOT tokens? How many wallets have more DOT tokens than me? What is the total NFT sales volume on the Polkadot ecosystem?

  • Are there any other projects similar to yours in the Substrate / Polkadot / Kusama ecosystem?

To the best of our knowledge, there is no similar project in the ecosystem using a knowledge-oriented approach to support CNL querying. Currently, users without programming skills depend on blockchain explorers to have access to chain data. There is a lack of solutions providing natural language querying.

There is a project [1] providing querying capabilities on Polkadot. [1] https://academy.subquery.network/

In addition, there is no formal ontology currently specified and maintained for the ecosystem.

  • If so, how is your project different?

The SubQuery project uses GraphQL and does not support querying specific concepts inherent from the ecosystem. However, as mentioned this project demands programming skills from its users.

  • If not, are there similar projects in related ecosystems?

Specifically regarding our first step for defining a formal ontology, there is the EthOn project, which is an Ethereum Ontology described in http://ethon.consensys.net

Concerning the query-answering asset using CNL, there is no similar project in related ecosystems, as far as we know.

Team 👥

Team members

Contact

  • Registered Address: Av Paulista, 1106 Sala 01 / ANDAR 16 - Bairro: Bela Vista, Sao Paulo - SP CEP 01310914

  • Registered Legal Entity: MOBR SYSTEMS LTDA

Team's experience

Both applicants worked as Research Scientists at IBM for 7 years. Earlier, Dr. Moreno (full CV on [1]) was a postdoctoral researcher at CWI (Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica) in the Netherlands, and worked at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio (PUC-Rio) in Brazil. Dr. Brandão (full CV on [2]) worked at the TecGraf Institute, from PUC-Rio, during his doctoral studies. The team has published multiple research papers and patents, their background includes Web3, AI, Knowledge Engineering, Distributed and Decentralized Systems, Multimedia and Hypermedia Systems, Human-Centered Computing, among other research topics.

For a complete list of peer-reviewed published papers and granted patents, please visit the following google scholar links

Team Code Repos

MOBR Systems:

Our personal accounts:

Team LinkedIn Profiles (if available)

Google Scholar Profiles (Or other research indexer profile, ex. Researchgate)

Development Status 📖

Not initiated yet.

Development Roadmap 🔩

Overview

  • Total Estimated Duration: We expect to conclude the proposed first step of the project in 4 months

  • Full-Time Equivalent (FTE): 1 FTE (two PhDs each dedicating about 30 days of work during a 4 months project)

  • Total Costs: The total budget requested is US$ 29900 for two PhDs dedicating about 30 days of work during a 4 months project. Considering that for academic, scientific, consultancy on average a PhD daily rate is about US$500.

Milestone 1 — Literature review and conceptual framework specification

Our approach will begin by conducting a comprehensive literature review to identify key concepts and principles in ontologies for blockchains. This includes studying the existing applications and ontological frameworks that have been developed for blockchain systems, as well as other relevant research in the fields of symbolic representation

Once the key concepts and principles have been identified, the next step is to specify a conceptual framework that incorporates and relates these concepts and principles. This framework will be designed to express the fundamental entities and relationships that govern the Polkadot ecosystem, and it will be flexible enough to accommodate the ongoing evolution of the technology.

  • Estimated Duration: 2 months
  • FTE: 1
  • Costs: 15,000 USD
NumberDeliverableSpecification
0a.Copyright and LicensesMIT
0b.Documentation/TutorialWe will provide a PDF document identifying and reviewing related work, concepts and principles in blockchain ontologies. For the ontology, the specification will be delivered as an OWL file with formal description of the Polkadot ecosystem abstractions.
0c.MethodologyPDF document detailing how we carried out a systematic review of related blockchain ontologies, and the correlation with the main abstractions of Polkadot's conceptual framework.
0d.InfrastructureWe will provide the list of all infrastructure requirements (text editors with proper versions, software packages, data packages, etc) that can be used to verify the deliveries with this milestone.
0e.ArticleWe will write a draft article (along with source code) explaining what was achieved in this milestone.
1.Literature surveyDocument identifying and reviewing related work, concepts and principles in blockchain ontologies
2.Conceptual frameworkOntology in OWL format with formal description of the Polkadot ecosystem

Milestone #2 – Case study for query engine

With the conceptual framework specified and developed, the next step will be applying it to a specific Polkadot-related use case scenario. This includes conducting a case study to explore the future application of the ontological framework to support building a controlled natural language (CNL) and a query engine in Polkadot’s multi-chain ecosystem.

  • Estimated Duration: 1 month
  • FTE: 1
  • Costs: 8,000 USD
NumberDeliverableSpecification
0a.Copyright and LicensesUnlicense
0b.Documentation/TutorialWe will provide a PDF document describing a use case to the future application of the ontological framework supporting the building of a controlled natural language (CNL) and a querying engine in Polkadot's multi-chain environment.
0c.MethodologyThe use case will be developed based on our expert perspective and also requirements identified from the engagement with other blockchain experts. That is, the requirements for the query engine will be grounded in real-world experience needs.
0d.InfrastructureWe will provide the list of all infrastructure requirements (text editors with proper versions, software packages, data packages, etc) that can be used to verify the deliveries with this milestone.
0e.ArticleWe will write a draft article explaining what was achieved in this milestone.
1.Case studyDocument describing case study on conceptual framework application with query engine

Milestone #3 – Polkadot team brainstorming / workshop

An important aspect of creating an ontology is to engage with experts from application domains to gain their insights and perspectives. This engagement helps to ensure that the ontological framework is grounded in real-world experience and reflects the current understanding of representative personas in the applied fields. In this sense, a key step of the proposed approach is to present and discuss the ontology with the Polkadot team.

  • Estimated Duration: 1 month
  • FTE: 1
  • Costs: 6,900 USD
NumberDeliverableSpecification
0a.Copyright and LicensesCC BY 4.0
0b.Documentation/TutorialWe will provide two PDF documents, one reporting scientific and technical findings and the other presenting reflections over the discussed content and action items
0c.MethodologyThe methodology for the team discussion will be loosely based on a Design Thinking process. We will guide the team during discussion in order to extract relevant feedback from experts. The idea is to carry this activity remotely.
0d.InfrastructureWe will suggest tool options for carrying out the collab session. That can be Mural or other equivalent free cloud collaborative tool available (e.g. Google Drive, MS Teams).
0e.ArticleWe will write a full article detailing what was achieved in the project. The article will have an acknowledgment in the body of it stating the research was supported by Web3 Foundation. It will be public available on arXiv.org and submited to listed scientific venues
1.Presentation deckSlide deck with reflections over the discussed content and action items

Future Plans

  • Our intention is that the conceptual framework constructed during the proposed research be used to support future knowledge-oriented assets. That is, assets that can take advantage of the Polkadot ecosystem’s formal definition, producing new knowledge, consuming it, and performing reasoning procedures.

  • In the short term, we will provide a case study for bootstrapping use cases to guide the design and building of a query engine tool. This asset will provide semantic searching features based on a controlled natural language (CNL).

  • The development roadmap for such an asset would be the long term plan related to this project proposal. Which would enrich the user experience within the Polkadot community.

Additional Information ➕

How did you hear about the Grants Program?

Web3 Foundation Website

  • Work already done

We have work in progress assets being developed in our recently founded startup. More info can be found at: https://mobr.ai

We also previously developed a technology that became widely adopted within IBM Research. It is a toolset to deal with knowledge engineering and ontology construction. More info can be found here:

  1. https://github.com/ibm-hyperknowledge
  2. https://ibm-hyperknowledge.github.io/possibility-link-demo-iswc2022/
  • Previous applied grants

We have already submited proposals to Waves and VeChain grant programs.