Understanding the components of Ethereum Network

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Understanding the components of Ethereum Network

6 mins read / updated on Fri Sep 22 2023

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The Ethereum Foundation conceived Ethereum as a decentralized computing platform. This innovative platform allows anyone to construct, store, and operate smart contract-based Decentralized Applications, or DApps. Envision the Ethereum blockchain network as a decentralized Peer-to-Peer (P2P) network of Ethereum clients. These clients represent network nodes.

An Ethereum client is essentially any node that can validate a new transaction, carry out smart contracts, and process new blocks of the chain. Picture this system as a form of digital enclave, residing in thousands of devices or computers on the internet. These are connected through the Ethereum P2P network. Enclosed within is the Ethereum Virtual Machine, or EVM, which is the runtime environment in this P2P network where smart contracts are executed.

What is Ethereum Network?

Ethereum is a blockchain-based computing platform that provides developers with the tools needed to build and deploy decentralized applications. These are applications that are not controlled by a single centralized authority. Instead, in this decentralized framework, the participants of a specific application hold the authority to make decisions.

What are Ethereum's features?

* Ether: This serves as Ethereum’s native digital asset.

* Smart contracts: These are self-executing contracts with the terms directly written into code, allowing credible transactions without third parties. Ethereum enables the development and deployment of these contracts.

* Ethereum Virtual Machine: The heart of the Ethereum network, this technology understands smart contracts and allows for interaction with them.

* Decentralized applications (DApps): With Ethereum, you can create consolidated applications known as decentralized applications.

* Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs): Ethereum supports the creation of these organizations for democratic decision-making.

Let’s delve deeper into each of these features.

Components of Ethereum Network

Component-1 : Nodes

* Mining Node:

These nodes are tasked with inscribing all the transactions that occur within the Ethereum network into the blocks.

* Ethereum Virtual Machine Node:

These are specialized nodes where Smart Contracts are implemented. Smart Contracts in this context are agreements between parties defined by specific rules. When these pre-defined rules are met, the contract executes automatically. By default, this node utilizes a 30303 port number for communication.

Component-2 : Ether

Ether is a pivotal digital asset used within the Ethereum network, akin to how Bitcoin operates within its blockchain network. It facilitates and validates transactions within the network and is integral for paying commissions related to executions affecting the state in Ethereum.

Component-3 : Gas

Think of Gas as the internal transaction pricing mechanism of the Ethereum network. It functions similarly to how fuel powers a car. Gas is a unit that measures the amount of computational effort required to execute operations, like making a transaction or running a contract in the Ethereum network.

Component-4 : Ethereum Accounts

* Externally Owned Account:

These accounts are akin to your bank account but for digital assets, as they are used to store transactions.

* Contract Account:

These accounts hold the details of Smart Contracts.

Component-5 : Nonce

For externally owned accounts, nonce signifies the number of transactions sent from an account. For a contract account, nonce represents the number of contracts created by the account.

Component-6 : Storage Root

The Storage Root is essentially the primary root node of a Merkle tree. The hash of all account details is securely stored here. This root plays a crucial role in verifying all transactions.

Component-7 : Ethash

Ethash is slated as the Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm for Ethereum 1.0. Evolving from its initial version, Ethash is a critical component of the Ethereum network’s security.

Algorithm Path:

1. Each block starts with a seed, determinable by iterating through block headers up to that point.

2. A 16 MB pseudo-random cache is generated from this seed, which light clients retain.

3. From this cache, a 1 GB dataset is built, where each dataset item is dependent on just a few cache items. Full clients and miners store this dataset, which grows linearly over time.

4. Mining involves taking random slices of this dataset and hashing them together. Verification can be done using the cache, requiring only a fraction of the dataset, thus enabling low memory usage.


Transactions

In a blockchain, one of its key components is messages. Ethereum transactions serve as network messages that consist of distinct components, which include:

Sender - the originating address of an individual initiating a transaction.

Recipient - the address of the individual who will receive the Ether transferred from the sender's account.

Value - the quantity of Eth that is being transferred from the sender to the recipient, often denominated in Wei, a smaller unit of Eth.

Data - an optional field that the sender can utilize to incorporate arbitrary data, such as an organization name, username, or a message.

Signature - this represents the digital fingerprint of the sender, produced when the sender's private key signs the transaction, serving as evidence that the sender indeed initiated the transaction.

gasLimit - the upper limit of gas units that the transaction can use. The quantity of gas corresponds with the computational steps necessary to process a transaction. More steps require more gas.

maxPriorityFeePerGas - a priority fee is a supplementary fee, added to the base fee as a tip for the miner. Miners are more inclined to process transactions that include a tip beyond those paying just the base fee. Transactions with a priority fee are given preference. This field sets the maximum amount of gas to be allocated as a tip for the miner.

maxFeePerGas - this indicates the highest amount of gas a user is prepared to pay for a transaction. This amount encompasses the baseFeePerGas and the maxPriorityFeePerGas.

Ethereum transactions can vary: regular transactions involve an exchange of value between two accounts; contract transactions lack a 'to' address—instead, the data field retains the contract code; and contract execution transactions interact with the data field of a transaction that holds the contract code. Notably, on Ethereum, transactions can only be initiated by an externally-owned account - an account held by a user rather than a contract.

Consensus Rules

A blockchain mandates consensus rules, which define a blockchain's characteristics and procedures. All miners adhere to these rules while processing transactions and validating blocks on the blockchain. When the majority of nodes conform to these rules, consensus is achieved, leading to agreement on a common state. Nodes diverging from these rules face penalties and are invalidated by the majority of nodes.

For consensus to be attained, the majority of nodes must independently accept a single data value unanimously.

The consensus rules of Ethereum function to:

  • Achieve uniformity of the global state, where all nodes concur on a shared state.
  • Ascertain the validity of blocks and transactions.
  • Be upheld by client software and maintained by all full nodes.
  • Eliminate bad actors.
  • Remain democratic and gain acceptance from all engaged parties of the blockchain.
  • Consensus rules in Ethereum permit the blockchain to operate devoid of trust between participants.

Software Clients

An Ethereum client represents a node capable of parsing and verifying the blockchain, including transactions and smart contracts. Ethereum boasts various client software implementations, such as Aleth/cpp-ethereum, Geth, and Trinity, among others.

Real-World Applications of Ethereum

Voting Systems

Utilizing Ethereum in voting systems fosters transparency and fairness by ensuring publicly accessible poll results, thereby eradicating voting malpractice.

Banking Systems

The decentralized system of Ethereum is finding increasing adoption within banking systems. Its structure makes unauthorized access by hackers a significant challenge, while also facilitating payments within the Ethereum-based network.

Shipping

Incorporating Ethereum in shipping facilitates precise cargo tracking and averts misplacement or counterfeiting of goods, thereby providing a robust and secure tracking framework essential in modern supply chains.

Agreements

With Ethereum smart contracts, agreements can be seamlessly maintained and executed, devoid of any modification. This capability is invaluable in industries characterized by fragmented participants, frequent disputes, and the necessity for digital contracts.

Future of the Ethereum network

The future trajectory of Ethereum is replete with promising developments and upgrades aimed at augmenting the network’s scalability, security, and sustainability. The Ethereum 2.0 roadmap and the forthcoming Danksharding upgrades are poised to render the Ethereum network increasingly appealing for developers, users, and traders alike.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]:

Q: What are the main components of Ethereum?

A: The main components of Ethereum include the Sender (the originating address of an individual initiating a transaction), Recipient (the address of the individual who will receive the Ether), Value (the quantity of Eth being transferred), Data (an optional field that the sender can use to incorporate arbitrary data), Signature (the digital fingerprint of the sender, produced when the sender's private key signs the transaction), gasLimit (the upper limit of gas units that a transaction can use), maxPriorityFeePerGas (a priority fee added to the base fee as a tip for the miner), and maxFeePerGas (the highest amount of gas a user is prepared to pay for a transaction).

Q: What is on the Ethereum network?

A: On the Ethereum network, there are transactions (which can be regular, contract, or contract execution), smart contracts, Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) that executes byte code, various client software implementations (such as Aleth/cpp-ethereum, Geth, and Trinity), and a consensus mechanism (currently transitioning from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake).

Q: What are the different types of Ethereum networks?

A: The different types of Ethereum networks include the Mainnet (the primary public blockchain), Testnets (such as Ropsten, Rinkeby, and Goerli, which are used for testing purposes), and Private Networks (blockchains deployed for specific use cases or by specific organizations, not accessible by the public).

Q: What is the complete ecosystem of Ethereum?

A: The complete ecosystem of Ethereum includes the Ethereum blockchain itself, smart contracts (self-executing contracts with the terms written into code), the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), various client software implementations, a global community of developers, decentralized applications (DApps) that run on the Ethereum blockchain, tokens (ERC-20, ERC-721, etc.), and decentralized finance (DeFi) products and services that are built on the Ethereum blockchain.

By:

Zainab

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