What is Ethereum ?

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With the second largest market cap in the cryptocurrency world, Ethereum has drawn a lot of attention from investors and crypto enthusiasts alike.

This relatively new cryptocurrency not only presents a significant change to the status quo, it also allows for the quick development and deployment of new applications. Ethereum essentially enables dozens of new and extremely innovative cryptocurrencies to exist.

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If you’re interested in Ethereum, chances are you have some sort of foundational knowledge of Bitcoin.

While Ethereum’s utility is obvious to programmers and the tech world at large, many people who are less tech-savvy have trouble understanding it. We’ve designed this guide to appeal to both crowds and expose anyone from complete crypto beginners and intermediates to this potentially game-changing cryptocurrency.

More on Ethereum 

Bitcoin launched in 2009 as the world’s first cryptocurrency, with the single goal of creating a decentralized universal currency. This currency would not require any intermediary financial institutions, but would still ensure safe and valid transactions. This was made possible by a revolutionary technology called the “blockchain.”

The blockchain is a digital ledger, continuously recording and verifying records. It’s used to track and verify Bitcoin transactions. Since the global network of communicating nodes maintains the blockchain, it’s pretty much incorruptible. As new blocks are added to the network, they are constantly validated.

Similar to Bitcoin, Ethereum is a distributed public blockchain network. While both Ethereum and Bitcoin are cryptocurrencies that can be traded among users, there are many substantial differences between the two.

Bitcoin, for example, utilizes  blockchain to track ownership of the digital currency, making it an extremely effective peer to peer electronic cash system. Ethereum, on the other hand, focuses on running the programming code of an application. Application developers largely use it to pay for services and transaction fees on the Ethereum network.

Both Bitcoin and Ethereum are “decentralized,” meaning they have no central control or issuing authority. Respective miners run each network by validating transactions to earn either bitcoin (for Bitcoin) or ether (for Ethereum).

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Dr. Gavin Wood

If you’re still having trouble making the distinction, the words of Dr. Gavin Wood—one of Ethereum’s Co-Founders—might help:

Simply put, Ethereum is a blockchain-based decentralized platform on which decentralized applications (Dapps) can be built.

  •     Remember, blockchain is the structure the vast majority of cryptocurrencies run on. It’s a database with no central server that keeps track of every transaction and exchange.
  •     We’ll jump into decentralized apps—referred to as dapps–in greater detail later, but just know they are applications that serve a certain purpose to a user. Fasten your seatbelts, some of these dapps are amazing.

Ethereum’s appeal is that it is built in a way that enables developers to create smart contracts. Smart contracts are scripts that automatically execute tasks when certain conditions are met. For example, a smart contract could technically say, “pay Jane $10 if she submits a 1000 word article on goats by September 15, 2018,” and it would pay Jane once the conditions are met.

These smart contracts are executed by the Turing-complete Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), run by an international public network of nodes.

The cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network is called ether. Ether serves two different functions:

  1.    Compensate the mining full nodes that power its network. This keeps things running smoothly at an administrative level.
  2.    Pay people under smart contract conditions. This is what motivates users to work on the Ethereum platform.

If you’re still a little confused, don’t worry. The underlying technology is complicated even at a surface level.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of Ethereum than 99.999% of people out there… and that’s a pretty good start!

We’ll go over things such as how Ethereum functions, Ethereum’s history, and some of the exciting dapps running on the Ethereum platform.

Decentralized apps(Dapps)

Most of us have a pretty good understanding of what an application (app) is. An application is formally defined as a program or piece of software designed and written to fulfill a particular purpose of the user. We use apps every day: Apps allow us to check our bank balance, scroll through a live feed of pictures, or even launch a Flappy Bird into oblivion.

Now take this definition and ~*~decentralize~*~ it. Dapps serve similar functions, but run on an entire network of nodes rather than a central source. The fact that they are decentralized gives dapps an enormous advantage over traditional apps.

You know when Instagram is down because the server is down? This doesn’t happen with dapps. How about when Zomato got hacked and exposed the information of 17 million people? This doesn’t happen either.

Moreover, Dapps are:

  •     Open Source – Dapps allow users to view the app code on both the frontend and backend. No sketchy “allow us to use your location” nonsense unless otherwise stated.
  •     Autonomous – Dapps automatically act by the rules encoded into them. No room for outside corruption.
  •     Secure – Data and protocols are stored on the blockchain cryptographically. No hacks.
  •     100% Uptime – The blockchain is always running, meaning zero downtime for dapps. No crashes.
  •     Easier to Implement – Developers wanting to take advantage of blockchain technology do not need to create a new blockchain. The framework is there, saving dapp creators a ton of time and effort spent creating a potentially subpar framework. In order to run on this decentralized network, dapps just pay transaction fees.

In many cases, front-end users can’t even distinguish dapps from regular apps. Dapps typically use HTML/JavaScript web applications to communicate with the blockchain, appearing the same to users as many applications you’re already using today.

This article was originally published by Mr. Alex Moskov(Editor in chief of coincentral). Read more about it on https://coincentral.com/what-is-ethereum/.

 

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