What is Ethereum?

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is a platform based on blockchain technology. Like Bitcoin, it is a distributed, decentralized, public and open source platform. Ethereum is characterized by its ability to execute Smart Contracts and it is the second-largest cryptocurrency known as Ether. This platform was proposed by Vitalik Buterin in 2013 and was officially launched on July 30, 2015. The original proposal can be found by consulting the article: “A next-generation smart contract and decentralized Platform”.

Many experts say that the Internet was destined to be decentralized. Ethereum is one of the newest technologies to achieve that goal. According to the site: www.ethernodes.org, there are around 18,961 Ethereum nodes (August 2018). Bitcoin has the purpose of breaking into online banking. Ethereum uses blockchain technology to replace third-party dependency and run decentralized applications. This blockchain network wants to be a global computer that would decentralize – and as some say, democratize – the existing client-server model.

What is a Smart Contract?

Ethereum is a Complete Turing system. In computer terms, this means that it can be programmed. The term “Smart Contract” is used to describe a computer program that is capable of facilitating, executing and enforcing the negotiation or compliance of an agreement using the Blockchain technology. Once an intelligent contract is found in this blockchain, it cannot be modified and there is no possibility of stopping its execution since the code is executed by hundreds of nodes in cyberspace. Like Bitcoin, an intermediary is not needed to validate transactions.

What is Solidity?

The most common language for making these contracts is Solidity. This is a high-level object-oriented programming language. It is similar to Javascript and C ++ but specially designed to create smart contracts. It was proposed in 2014 by Gavin Wood.

Solidity is a static typing programming language, that is, typing verification is done during compilation, and not during execution. The code is compiled (i.e., bytecode) and executed in the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine). Solidity is similar to Java and Java Virtual Machine (i.e., JVM). The deployment and execution of the contract have a cost in ether known as Gas. This mechanism reinforces the security of the network (e.g., to prevent a DoS attack).

What is Ether?

Ethereum has its own currency known as Ether. All transactions made with this currency can be consulted and tracked. The Etherscan website (i.e., https://etherscan.io) allows you to consult all the operations that have been carried out on this platform since its conception. In order to have a transparent and auditable platform, it is possible to know who, how and when the operations were carried out.

What is Mist?

The Mist electronic wallet is a gateway to this blockchain network. It allows you to create accounts and manage Ether as well as write, sends and access smart contracts. Mist can be downloaded from the website: https://github.com/ethereum/mist/releases. Consider that synchronizing a node to the Ethereum network can take some time and consume more than 50GBytes. However, it is possible to connect to different test networks such as Rinkeby or Ropsten. If you don’t want to download a full node, there are other wallets such as Metamask that allow connecting to the Ethereum network.

Summary

Finally, I would like to comment that in2018 Ethereum is about to make a critical change for its future development. The consensus mechanism will change from a work test (i.e., Proof-of-Work) to a consensus protocol called Proof-of-Stake. This is the mechanism by which the nodes validate transactions. The main reason is to reduce energy consumption and eliminate the tendency to centralization. In the future, we will talk more about this topic.

For further information, you can check the Ethereum website at https://www.ethereum.org/

Sources:

Original White Paper. Website: https://github.com/ethereum/wiki/wiki/White-Paper

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What is Ethereum?

About The Author
- Ph.D. in Computer Science (2012), Carleton University, Ottawa, ON., Canada. My research interests include studies in Network and Computer Security, Ad Hoc Networks and Blockchain Technology. Master in Information Technology (MIT) May, 2004, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), B.Cs. in Computer Science (2000), Mathematics School, Merida,Yuc., Mexico.

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