EVM Explained – What is Ethereum Virtual Machine
If you’re just getting acquainted with blockchains, learning about Ethereum and the Ethereum Virtual Machine is a good place to start.
Blockchain has gone from a seeming niche technology to truly breaking into the mainstream. You hear about it in the news, read about it in blog posts, and see that it can be applied to many sectors, not just finance or tech. Blockchains have global significance and have the potential to transform many different industries. If you’re just getting acquainted with blockchains, learning about Ethereum and the Ethereum Virtual Machine is a good place to start.
Ethereum is an open-source platform for developers creating decentralized applications (DApps). It was built on Bitcoin’s blockchain but offers enhanced features like smart contracts and DApps that run on its own virtual machine (EVM).
What is Ethereum Virtual Machine or EVM?
Before you can understand the ecosystem as a whole, you need to understand what a virtual machine is. Virtual machines are machines that attempt a higher level of abstraction than your usual operating system or OS. Unlike Windows or iOS, virtual machines or VMs are created on top of the usual operating systems so they can function similarly to a physical computing machine.
Through a VM, one can use the resources of network participants regardless of location or geography to build, process, and execute what they want. In this sense, the EVM acts like a global processor or computer that lends its accumulated computing power to developers. The developers, in turn, use this resource to create smart contracts and decentralized apps or dApps.
In short: Virtual Machine (VM) is an abstraction layer for running applications written in code on top of Ethereum blockchain. Using a VM allows us to move away from traditional centralized servers and run our own applications in an environment where we can control everything from their storage space to their execution time.
Ethereum Virtual Machine Features
EVM is a Turing-complete smart contract
Turing-completeness means that the EVM can solve any type of problem, at least theoretically. But there is no way to tell whether such smart contracts can finish all the given operations within a specific time frame. Therefore, it is essential to put in a terminating mechanism to create exact limits.
A terminating mechanism stops the execution of every instruction at a particular point in time, enabling users to determine if their contract has finished its operations within the specified timeframe. In short, it ensures that all instructions are executed fully before moving on to the next one.
In this way, developers can create more complex logic through which they can execute complex tasks in an efficient manner.
EVM is Deterministic
A program is deterministic when it provides the same output to the same set of inputs. It doesn’t matter how many times the code is executed. This is important because decentralized apps or dApps on Ethereum may handle financial transactions involving large amounts of money at any given time. Therefore, it is crucial to know how the code will react in every stage of execution. Determinism is essential to the foundations of the Ethereum Virtual Machine.
The Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) is an essential part of the Ethereum protocol. It allows anyone who joins the network to execute their code in a trustless manner where the outcome of any execution is guaranteed via fully deterministic smart contracts.
The EVM creates an economy. Through gas incentives, it fosters a peer-to-peer Turing-completeness, making use of the resources of the world to run programs. Through this, it lives up to its vision of a “world computer”.
How is the EVM essential to the protocol? It allows anyone who joins the network to execute their code in a trustless manner where the outcome of any execution is guaranteed via fully deterministic (see above, under EVM features) smart contracts.
With a way to measure gas costs to execute a smart contract, the protocol guarantees that fees are received before running the program, thus protecting the incentives and priority system.