Ethereum Virtual Machine: A Beginners Guide

Ethereum is the second largest cryptocurrency and rightfully so. It is a complex network that can execute smart contract code that in turn allows the development of various decentralized applications (DApps).

However, what you may not know is that DApps and smart contracts can only be built due to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Now you may be wondering, what is the Ethereum Virtual Machine?

Don’t worry. In this article, I will be answering those questions and much more. So without further ado, let’s jump right in.


The Ethereum Virtual Machine facilitates the creation and execution of decentralized applications. Ultimately, it provides an environment for smart contracts to operate.

What are smart contracts?

Before we start let’s define smart contacts. Smart contracts are programs that run on the Ethereum blockchain. Each program is tied to a specific Ethereum address and the data is managed by the program rather than the user.

This allows the smart contract to automatically execute transactions if a predetermined set of conditions are met. All in all, they act like traditional contracts with a specific set of rules that are enforced by code.

They are immutable meaning they cannot be deleted or changed. To interact with the contract users submit transactions to the smart contract.

What is the Ethereum virtual machine?

Ethereum virtual machine (EVM) is a software platform that sits above the base layer and it allows developers to create decentralized applications.

Ultimately, it is a closed-off system that runs and executes smart contracts. This isolation acts as a buffer for the security of the network. It means that any code that is implemented on this layer does not affect any other data on the Ethereum network.

Not to mention, complex code is converted into ‘Bytecode’ that facilitates the development of smart contracts across all EVM-compatible chains. This includes Binance Smart Chain and Avalanche to name a few.

Applications can be ported over easily to these chains and they can also be recognized by Ethereum validators.

How does EVM work?

The Ethereum Virtual Machine provides a set of rules that determine the change of state between blocks. In other words, it determines how the Ethereum network changes in response to smart contract inputs.

Simply put, it is the part of Ethereum that understands code and it controls the operation of smart contracts. Moreover, it also acts as a layer between nodes. Therefore, if catastrophic smart contract bugs are programmed it does not shut down the network.

Benefits of EVM

No barrier to entry – there are no restrictions to interacting with the EVM. Anyone can create decentralized applications.

Turing complete – as the Ethereum Virtual Machine is Turing complete it allows programmers to write scripts in any programming language. In turn, this widens the pool of available developers considerably.

Interoperability- thanks to EVM technology any blockchain that utilizes it can port over decentralized applications and easily transfer tokens between them.

Security – As EVMs are segmented from the base layer this grants more flexibility to experiment with decentralized applications and smart contract code. Ultimately, if unwanted code is written it does not affect the operations of the blockchain.


Technically challenging – The use of EVM technology requires experience in various programming languages.

High gas fees – When interacting with the EVM there are transaction costs known as gas fees. When the network becomes congested due to high demand these fees can add up when compared to other blockchains.

Decentralization – although the network is secured by a vast network of participants the validators can concentrate in specific areas. For instance, there is a significant concentration on cloud service providers such as Amazon Web services.

This leads to a network that is less robust as the points of failure are less evenly distributed.

Isolated data system – overall, EVMs cannot access data outside of the blockchain. For example, information on the weather or the time of day. Therefore, they have to rely separate applications known as oracles for this information.


All in all, the Ethereum Virtual Machine provides an isolated sandbox where smart contracts operate. Ultimately, it sets the rules that control how the Ethereum network changes based on smart contract inputs.

Not to mention, anyone can participate, and provided the blockchain is EVM compatible then DApps can be easily ported over. I hope you found this article useful and thanks for reading it.

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