What Is aelf (ELF)?

Blockchain technology made peer-to-peer financial transaction possible when it was spearheaded by Bitcoin.

Ethereum then became the first to create another use for blockchain as a platform for dapps. Although the dapps platform was a good innovation, it was a long way from the centralized operating systems users are familiar with, like Windows and MacOS.

Furthermore, for the blockchain to be integrated with the physical business world, there is a need for a competent Operating System for the decentralized applications. This Operating System has to be scalable, have measures to avoid interference between smart contract execution, and have a consensus protocol that adapts to new technology.

Aelf is an operating system for the blockchain that is customizable by developers, where full nodes run on cloud servers and each smart contract runs on its own chain.

Aelf envisions becoming the Linux of the blockchain world, enabling organizations to build their own systems with any consensus mechanism desired on the blockchain. It is basically a decentralized, self-evolving cloud computing network also capable of cross-chain interaction.

What Does Aelf Do?

The Aelf system is focused on innovation over current blockchain systems in performance enhancements, resource segregation, and structure of governance. The performance enhancement and resource segregation is achieved through the multi-layer side chain structure.

The innovation in the structure of governance is achieved through the Delegated Proof-Of-Stake (DPoS) consensus mechanism.

Side Chains

The Aelf system consists of one main chain and multiple side chains to run smart contracts. The main chain itself does not run any smart contract but acts as a supervisor to all the side chains and has the capability of interacting with other blockchains.

Each smart contract created on the platform will have its own side chain. The Aelf main chain (run by the Aelf OS) serves as the backbone of the whole system, hence communication between side chains will only be through the main chain.

The side chains interact with the main chain through a side chain index system. The index system categorizes chains into 2 types:

  • External chains of high importance that can be used to expand the boundary of Aelf, such as the Bitcoin blockchain and Ethereum blockchain
  • Internal side chains that operate under the Aelf OS
Source: AELF whitepaper

As can be seen from the above figure, side chains can branch into sub chains and those sub chains can branch out even further.

Other blockchains like Bitcoin could have their own side chains in the Aelf system. The main chain allows the side chains to communicate to each other through the Merkle Tree Root verification.

This structure is similar to the sharding concept by Ethereum. It is expected to enable the network to conveniently scale. The separation of functional areas in the system into side chains ensures that problems in one area would not affect the entire network.


The regular Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism is not applicable to Aelf.

This is because the Aelf block formation requires the main chain to record information from side chains and also because Aelf has a more complex structure in providing cloud-based enterprise services.

Therefore, the Aelf main chain uses Delegated Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism (similar to what Ark and EOS use) to maintain the network.

Each Aelf token holder has the right to vote on which nodes become the mining nodes. The elected mining nodes then determine how to distribute mining rewards to all the other nodes and stakeholders.

The purpose of the mining nodes is to enable the relay and confirmation of transactions, packaging blocks, and transfer of data.

The number of network miners on Aelf is determined by the equation:

Miners = 2N+1

Where “N” is an integer that starts at “8” and increases every year by “1.”

Aelf encourages side chains to use their own consensus protocol, hence customizing it for their own specific use. However, side chains created through the Aelf OS are advised to merge their mining with the Aelf main chain.

The Aelf Team

Aelf was founded by Ma Haobo, who was previously the founder and CEO of Hoopox, as well as the CTO of GemPay and AllCoin. He is considered a blockchain expert and early adopter of digital currencies. He is also a member of Blockchain Experts’ Commission of Chinese Institute of Electronics and China Computer Federation.

Other members of the team include Chen Zhuling (COO), Rong Peng (VP of R&D), Yang Yalong, Deng Guanglei, and JB Lee.

Advisors on the project include Liam Robertson (CEO of Alphabit Limited), Zhou Shouji (a founding partner at FBG Capital), Kenneth Oh (Senior partner at Dentons Rodyk and Davidson), and Michael J. Arrington (CEO of TechCrunch).

AELF Roadmap and Achievements

Development began on the Aelf project in November 2017. The development was classified into 5 phases, according to the roadmap shown below:

The Aelf testnet was released in June 2018. The Aelf side chain development was announced to be completed, as of September 2018. The official mainnet launch is scheduled for 2019.

Challenges and Competition

Aelf seems to be making steady progress according to the roadmap and vision. The Aelf blog keeps the community connected with developmental updates from the team. The only notable challenge would be becoming the best and most widely-recognized blockchain platform among others that render similar services.

The most obvious competitor for Aelf as a blockchain platform would be Ethereum. However, with the specific use of side chains in development, Lisk also serves as a significant competitor.

The ELF Token

The ELF token serves as the means of payment for resource allocation, maintaining the stability of the Aelf ecosystem (through voting) and incentivizing contributors for the healthy development of the whole network.

The ELF token is designed in such a way that every side chain recognized by the Aelf OS is allowed to accept ELF tokens.

The ELF token sale took place between November 28 and December 10, 2017. The goal was to raise 55,000 ETH, and it was achieved (in the private sale) without having to do a public ICO. The project drew in funds from investment companies such as FBG Capital, BlockTower, Draper Dragon, Galaxy, Blockchain Ventures, and several others.

The ELF token is currently worth about $0.14, and it is trading on several exchanges such as Binance, Huobi, and OKEx with BTC, ETH, and trading pairs. Huobi and OKEx also include USDT pairs. It is also paired with the South Korean Won on Bithumb.

The ELF token is currently an ERC-20 Ethereum token standard. Hence, it can be stored in any ERC-20 compatible wallet.

However, when the Aelf mainnet launches in 2019, there will be a token migration from the ERC-20 standard to the native Aelf coins on the Aelf blockchain. There will be information from the Aelf team when the time comes to migrate the tokens.


Aelf’s vision of becoming the Linux of the blockchain world is an ambitious one.

The project’s design in light of what it hopes to achieve looks very promising. Its success will greatly depend on how many projects and developers are willing to build on it. Currently, there are not so many dapp projects in the world, but this could change in the near future.

With a future filled with blockchain applications and dapps, Aelf is positioning itself to become a force to be reckoned with.

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