Wei is the smallest denomination of ether, which is the cryptocurrency used in the Ethereum network. To put it in simple terms, Wei is to Ether what cents are to the dollar or pence are to the pound. Just like you might have one dollar made up of 100 cents, one Ether is made up of a very large number of Wei.

Unit of Measurement

In the Ethereum network, all amounts are measured in Wei. This includes the 'gas' that is used to power transactions and smart contracts within the Ethereum blockchain. Any transactions that take place on the Ethereum network occur in Wei, not Ether. It's only when people convert these amounts for convenience that they use Ether or other larger units.

How Much Wei is in One Ether?

One Ether is equivalent to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one quintillion) Wei. This large number is intentional, and the reason behind this is that it allows for precise calculations within the network. It is also practical because it helps in reducing errors while conducting microtransactions and helps in eliminating rounding errors.

Why the Name 'Wei'?

The unit 'Wei' is named after Wei Dai, a computer scientist who is known for the development of the b-money concept and his contributions to the cypherpunk movement. The term b-money was an important precursor to the invention of Bitcoin, and because of Wei Dai's important contributions to the field, the smallest unit of the Ether was named after him.

How is Wei Used in Practice?

While conducting a transaction on the Ethereum blockchain, you would typically specify the amount you're sending or receiving in Ether. However, in the backend, the transaction is conducted in Wei, which allows for precise calculations. Once the transaction has been completed, the final Wei amount is typically converted back into Ether for the ease of understanding and reading.

  • You might see a price quoted as 0.01 Ether.
  • Behind the scenes, this would be conducted as a transaction of 10,000,000,000,000,000 Wei.
  • Once the transaction is completed, you'd typically receive the final amounts as 0.01 Ether.

In summary, while a user typically interacts with elements like Ether, gas and Gwei on the front end, any calculations or transactions that take place on the Ethereum network are conducted in Wei.