What is Graph (GRT)

Andrew Carr
| Editor:
April 9, 2024
6 min read

The Graph is a decentralized protocol for indexing and querying data from blockchains and other data sources. It serves as a critical layer in the blockchain ecosystem, enabling developers to efficiently retrieve specific information from complex datasets. This feature makes The Graph stand out, as it offers a solution to the challenges of data accessibility, availability, and transparency in the blockchain space.

A Brief Overview 

The design of The Graph's architecture is purposefully made to handle large amounts of data and provide efficient indexing and querying capabilities. It operates on a decentralized network of nodes that index and store data to ensure integrity and security. This decentralized nature of The Graph contributes to its role in reducing the risk of data manipulation, providing a trustless environment for accessing and analyzing data.

The Graph equips developers with the tools needed to access and analyze data from various DeFi protocols. By using The Graph, developers can efficiently index and query blockchain data.

This functionality enables the creation of DApps that rely on accurate and up-to-date data, paving the way for more innovative solutions in the DeFi space. 

The Graph Architecture 

The architecture of The Graph is designed to facilitate efficient data retrieval from blockchain networks. It comprises three main components: indexer nodes, subgraph manifests, and the query processing layer.

Indexer nodes are responsible for processing data from the blockchain and organizing it into a readable format. They play a crucial role in making blockchain data accessible and usable.

Subgraph manifests are representations of specific data sets. They help to structure the data in a way that can be easily queried and retrieved.

The query processing layer is where the data requests are handled. This layer uses GraphQL to process queries and return the requested data.

Indexing and Querying in The Graph

When it comes to indexing, The Graph processes and organizes data from blockchain networks into subgraphs. This indexing process is a key step in making blockchain data accessible and usable.

Once the data is indexed, it can be queried using GraphQL, a query language that allows developers to specify the data they need and retrieve it efficiently. This querying process enables developers to access specific data sets without having to sift through unnecessary information.

The combination of indexing and querying in The Graph allows for efficient data retrieval, making it a valuable tool for developers working with blockchain data. Whether it's for social networks, e-commerce, or cryptocurrency investment, The Graph offers a robust and flexible solution for data access and analysis.


GraphQL is a query language for Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that outlines the behavior of a GraphQL server, including the handling of requests and responses, supported protocols, and accepted data formats. 

In addition, it offers a complete and understandable description of the data in the API, giving clients the power to request exactly what they need. This makes it easier to evolve APIs over time and enables powerful developer tools.

GraphQL queries provide access to many resources in a single request, allowing apps to get all the necessary data in one go. This efficient approach ensures that apps control the data they receive, making them fast and stable.

Furthermore, GraphQL APIs are organized based on types and fields, not endpoints, allowing access to the full capabilities of data from a single endpoint. Types ensure that apps only request what's possible and provide clear errors, alleviating the need for manual code parsing.

How Does GraphQL Work?

The request from a client to a GraphQL server is termed a Query. GraphQL is transport layer agnostic meaning that it is not dependent on any specific transport layer protocol for individual Queries. 

In computing, the transport layer is responsible for delivering data across a network and ensuring that it reaches its destination reliably and efficiently. Being transport layer agnostic means that a system, application, or protocol does not rely on any particular transport layer protocol for its functionality. Instead, it is designed to work with multiple transport layer protocols interchangeably or is independent of the specifics of any transport layer protocol.

Benefits of GraphQL

GraphQL enables programmers to choose the types of requests they want to make and helps in loading data from the server to the client. It solves the problems of overfecthing and underfecthing data. 

Overfetching refers to situations where the client downloads more information than it needs, while underfetching happens when the client has to make multiple requests to fetch all the necessary data. 

GraphQL addresses these issues by allowing clients to specify exactly what data they need. This ability to define precise data requirements helps avoid overfetching and underfetching, leading to more efficient data retrieval and improved application performance. This is particularly beneficial in the context of cryptocurrency and DeFi applications, where data efficiency can translate into tangible cost savings. 

Additionally, GraphQL enables rapid iterations on the frontend. This means that changes can be made on the client-side without requiring adjustments on the server-side when design and data needs change. 

GRT Token

GRT is the native token of The Graph's ecosystem. It serves as the lifeblood of the protocol, incentivizing data management, and promoting network participation. GRT is utilized by different participants within the network, including indexers, curators, and delegators, who contribute their services in return for rewards.

GRT Functions: 

  1. Incentivization: GRT incentivizes protocol participants to contribute their services and maintain the network's health. 
  1. Payment: Users pay for queries in GRT. These fees are then distributed amongst indexers, delegators, and curators.
  1. Governance: GRT holders have the opportunity to participate in the governance process, influencing decisions about the protocol's future developments.

GRT Tokenomics

The supply of GRT is 10.8 billion tokens. This supply has been carefully distributed across various recipient groups and the Graph's protocol has an implemented token unlock schedule that spans over 5 to 10 years, releasing vested tokens to network participants at different times. 

GRT employs both inflationary and deflationary mechanisms. The target is a 3% new issuance annually to reward Indexers for allocating stake on subgraphs. However, this rate is not fixed and can be adjusted based on technical governance, potentially dropping as low as 0%.

Simultaneously, approximately 1% of the GRT supply is burned annually through various activities on the network, such as delegation tax, curation tax, and a percentage of query fees for blockchain data. This results in an expected net change in token supply of +2% in year one. Future variations may occur, potentially leading to a slightly deflationary scenario if annual issuance is reduced to zero over a defined period.

The GRT token unlock schedule includes an overview of approximate token unlock percentages and changes to the total circulating supply, aggregated into three-month periods. There are specific noteworthy unlock dates where the percentages are above 2%.

However, it's important to note that the schedule is subject to variations due to factors such as token burning and new token issuance. Publicly available smart contract data is utilized for calculations, ensuring transparency in the process.

Participant Roles in The Graph Ecosystem


In the ecosystem of The Graph, the role of Indexers is akin to that of librarians. They are responsible for ensuring data availability and reliability by serving subgraph queries to developers and DApps. Indexers operate independent hardware and software to power the decentralized network. 

Indexers earn GRT rewards through query fees paid by developers or users for subgraph data queries, and indexing rewards from the 3% annual issuance. They must stake a minimum of 100,000 GRT to run an indexing node and can accept up to 16 times their initial stake.

If an Indexer is slashed, 50% of their indexing rewards for the epoch are burned, and their self-stake is slashed by 2.5%, with half of this amount being burned. This incentivizes indexers to offer high-quality service and maintain the integrity of the network.


Delegators are key participants who contribute to the network by delegating their GRT to Indexers. By doing so, they increase the Indexers' stake in the subgraphs and in return, earn a percentage of all query fees and indexing rewards from the Indexer, with most offering between 9-12% rewards annually.

There is a 0.5% delegation tax burned when delegating GRT, and a 28-epoch unbonding period of approximately 26 days if a Delegator chooses to withdraw their delegated GRT. This encourages long-term participation in the network.


Curators play a critical role in The Graph ecosystem by identifying high-quality subgraphs and earn curation shares by "curating" them. They pay a 1% curation tax when curating a new subgraph, which is burned, decreasing the supply of GRT.

Subgraph developers are encouraged to curate their subgraphs with at least 3,000 GRT. Curators guarantee a percentage of all future query fees generated by the subgraph they curated. This ensures that high-quality data is readily available for developers and users, and rewards Curators for their efforts.


The Graph’s architecture, decentralized network, and utilization of GraphQL empower developers to efficiently access and analyze blockchain data, facilitating the creation of innovative data-driven DApps.

The integration of GraphQL not only enhances data retrieval efficiency but also addresses common challenges such as overfetching and underfetching, thereby optimizing application performance.

Moreover, the GRT token serves as a crucial incentive mechanism within The Graph ecosystem, rewarding participants for their contributions while ensuring network integrity and sustainability through mechanisms such as staking and governance. 

As The Graph continues to evolve and expand its ecosystem, it remains at the forefront of driving transparency, accessibility, and trustlessness in the blockchain landscape.

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