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A Summary of

Basic terminology for Ethereum

Matt Condon
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Ethereum is a distributed computer, wherein each node executes some bytecode and stores the result in a blockchain. The properties of this blockchain guarantee applications that run exactly as programmed, without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud, or third-party interference.

Smart Contract:

  • Code that is executed in a distributed environment (such as the Ethereum platform).
  • Platform ensures deterministic operation, distributed & verifiable state, and more.
  • State immutably stored on a blockchain.


  • Smart Contracts are executed by every node in the network. Allows for redundancy, but requires a lot of energy ("gas").
  • Price of gas is determined by the market.

Ethereum Node:

  • Each node stores a complete copy of the blockchain.
  • Optionally executes all transactions to confirm resulting state.

Ethereum Token:

  • Numbers stored in a distributed hash table, with a protocol to add and subtract
  • Used to prove ownership of assets, incentivize interaction with a protocol, etc.
  • "Accounts" are private key and address pairs, used to store tokens.
  • "Wallets" are interfaces or smart contracts for creating and sending transactions using an account.

Distributed App (dApp):

  • An app where the "server side" consists of Smart Contracts.
  • Not all computation is performed on the blockchain; typically, only a public "trusted state" is stored.
    • dApp client: A "client" or "frontend" which interfaces with the Ethereum blockchain, usually to provide a user-friendly interface to some dApp.
    • dApp browser: An application that makes using dApp clients easier ("Mist" is the official Ethereum dApp browser).
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