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Ethereum is a decentralized, open-source blockchain-based platform that enables the creation of smart contracts and decentralized applications (dapps). It was first proposed in 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, and it went live in 2015. Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, and it is often referred to as the “world computer” because it allows for the execution of code on a global network of nodes.

Unlike Bitcoin, which is primarily used as a form of digital currency, Ethereum’s primary use case is as a platform for the creation of decentralized applications. These applications are powered by Ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network.

Ethereum also has a built-in programming language called Solidity, which allows developers to write smart contracts and dapps that can be executed on the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement written directly into lines of code. They can be used for various purposes such as supply chain management, digital identity, and prediction markets.

In recent years Ethereum has been undergoing a major upgrade called Ethereum 2.0, which aims to improve the network scalability and security, as well as to make it more environmentally friendly by transitioning from a proof-of-work consensus algorithm to a proof-of-stake.