A Brief Introduction to Ethereum

Getting started in the Ethereum ecosystem

Collins Munyendo
Jul 25, 2019 · 2 min read
Image for post
Image for post

With the advent of good internet connectivity across many places in the world today, it’s become relatively cheap for parties to communicate. Technologies such as Bitcoin have enabled secure peer-to-peer transfer of value between parties by leveraging a public distributed ledger known as blockchain. With Bitcoin limited to financial transactions, however, there is need to create other trust-based systems including smart contracts that can take advantage of blockchain’s distributed and immutable nature. This is how Ethereum was born.

Ethereum attempts to create a generalized technology that goes beyond Bitcoin’s decentralized value transfer system to provide trust between transacting parties. It was first proposed by Buterin and ensures transactions, once published, are incorruptible and transparent. It is a transaction-based machine that begins from a genesis state, executing transactions until it reaches a final state. Some of this state information could be account balance, trust arrangement among others; the potential applications are limitless.

Transactions are arranged into blocks that are then chained together using a cryptographic hash for reference. You can think of a block as a journal; it records transactions along with the previous block and the identifier for the final state. For transactions to be published, they have incentives given to the miners who mine them. Mining is working to increase one’s blocks achieved using cryptographically secure proof-of-work. More on this in a bit. These transactions can result in either a message call or creation of new accounts.

To prevent the network from getting abused, transactions have associated costs that are known as gas. Ether, Ethereum’s intrinsic currency, for the gas is given to the miner who mines the block. With Bitcoin’s use of ASIC for mining a threat to its decentralization, Ethereum uses a special algorithm called Ethash for mining. For consensus, we pick the path with the most computation on it i.e. the path with the most blocks.

Ethereum’s generalized nature means it can be applied well beyond just financial transactions. It can be used in establishing smart contracts including digital transfer of land title deeds which effectively eliminates expensive intermediaries and further enhances transparency.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author above do not necessarily represent the views of the Ethereum Foundation.

Ethereum Scholars Program

Collins Munyendo

Written by

Security Consultant at Silensec and Doctoral Student at the George Washington University. Focus: Usable Security and Privacy.

Ethereum Scholars Program

The Ethereum Scholars Program is an Ethereum Foundation sponsored, community supported initiative to increase diversity and inclusion within the blockchain ecosystem. This channel is managed by volunteers of the Ethereum Scholars Program.

Collins Munyendo

Written by

Security Consultant at Silensec and Doctoral Student at the George Washington University. Focus: Usable Security and Privacy.

Ethereum Scholars Program

The Ethereum Scholars Program is an Ethereum Foundation sponsored, community supported initiative to increase diversity and inclusion within the blockchain ecosystem. This channel is managed by volunteers of the Ethereum Scholars Program.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store