What is a Virtual Machine?
A virtual machine refers to a simulated computing environment created to execute smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps) within a blockchain network. The concept of a virtual machine is integral to the functionality of many blockchain platforms, enabling programmable and decentralized functionalities.
One of the most well-known examples of a virtual machine in crypto is the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). The EVM is a runtime environment that executes smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms directly encoded in code. The EVM ensures the deterministic execution of these contracts across all nodes in the Ethereum network.
Virtual machines operate as an abstraction layer between the underlying blockchain protocol and the code written by developers. This abstraction allows for greater flexibility and compatibility, as developers can write smart contracts in high-level programming languages without worrying about the specifics of the underlying blockchain's architecture.
Smart contracts, once deployed on the virtual machine, become immutable and self-executing, with their outcomes recorded on the blockchain. The decentralized nature of the virtual machine ensures that all participants in the network reach a consensus on the execution of smart contracts, fostering trustless and transparent interactions.
While the EVM is prominent, other blockchain platforms have their own virtual machines. For example, the Binance Smart Chain has the Binance Chain Virtual Machine (BCVM), and NEO employs the NEO Virtual Machine (NeoVM).
Virtual machines in crypto provide a standardized and secure way for developers to create decentralized applications and programmable contracts. They play a pivotal role in fostering innovation, enabling a wide range of functionalities, from token creation to complex decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, all executed in a decentralized and tamper-resistant manner. The concept of virtual machines has significantly contributed to the evolution of blockchain technology beyond simple digital currencies, opening the door to a diverse ecosystem of decentralized applications and smart contract capabilities.