Ethereum Whitepaper

Ethereum Whitepaper

This introductory paper was originally published in 2014 by Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, before the project's launch in 2015. It's worth noting that Ethereum, like many community-driven, open-source software projects, has evolved since its initial inception.

While several years old, we maintain this paper because it continues to serve as a useful reference and an accurate representation of Ethereum and its vision. To learn about the latest developments of Ethereum, and how changes to the protocol are made, we recommend this guide.

Researchers and academics seeking a historical or canonical version of the whitepaper [from December 2014] should use this PDF.
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A Next-Generation Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform

Satoshi Nakamoto's development of Bitcoin in 2009 has often been hailed as a radical development in money and currency, being the first example of a digital asset which simultaneously has no backing or "intrinsic value
(opens in a new tab)↗" and no centralized issuer or controller. However, another, arguably more important, part of the Bitcoin experiment is the underlying blockchain technology as a tool of distributed consensus, and attention is rapidly starting to shift to this other aspect of Bitcoin. Commonly cited alternative applications of blockchain technology include using on-blockchain digital assets to represent custom currencies and financial instruments ("colored coins
(opens in a new tab)↗"), the ownership of an underlying physical device ("smart property
(opens in a new tab)↗"), non-fungible assets such as domain names ("Namecoin
(opens in a new tab)↗"), as well as more complex applications involving having digital assets being directly controlled by a piece of code implementing arbitrary rules ("smart contracts
(opens in a new tab)↗") or even blockchain-based "decentralized autonomous organizations
(opens in a new tab)↗" (DAOs). What Ethereum intends to provide is a blockchain with a built-in fully fledged Turing-complete programming language that can be used to create "contracts" that can be used to encode arbitrary state transition functions, allowing users to create any of the systems described above, as well as many others that we have not yet imagined, simply by writing up the logic in a few lines of code.

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