Approval Distribution

A subsystem for the distribution of assignments and approvals for approval checks on candidates over the network.

The Approval Voting subsystem is responsible for active participation in a protocol designed to select a sufficient number of validators to check each and every candidate which appears in the relay chain. Statements of participation in this checking process are divided into two kinds:

  • Assignments indicate that validators have been selected to do checking
  • Approvals indicate that validators have checked and found the candidate satisfactory.

The Approval Voting subsystem handles all the issuing and tallying of this protocol, but this subsystem is responsible for the disbursal of statements among the validator-set.

The inclusion pipeline of candidates concludes after availability, and only after inclusion do candidates actually get pushed into the approval checking pipeline. As such, this protocol deals with the candidates made available by particular blocks, as opposed to the candidates which actually appear within those blocks, which are the candidates backed by those blocks. Unless stated otherwise, whenever we reference a candidate partially by block hash, we are referring to the set of candidates made available by those blocks.

We implement this protocol as a gossip protocol, and like other parachain-related gossip protocols our primary concerns are about ensuring fast message propagation while maintaining an upper bound on the number of messages any given node must store at any time.

Approval messages should always follow assignments, so we need to be able to discern two pieces of information based on our View:

  1. Is a particular assignment relevant under a given View?
  2. Is a particular approval relevant to any assignment in a set?

For our own local view, these two queries must not yield false negatives. When applied to our peers' views, it is acceptable for them to yield false negatives. The reason for that is that our peers' views may be beyond ours, and we are not capable of fully evaluating them. Once we have caught up, we can check again for false negatives to continue distributing.

For assignments, what we need to be checking is whether we are aware of the (block, candidate) pair that the assignment references. For approvals, we need to be aware of an assignment by the same validator which references the candidate being approved.

However, awareness on its own of a (block, candidate) pair would imply that even ancient candidates all the way back to the genesis are relevant. We are actually not interested in anything before finality.

Protocol

Input:

  • ApprovalDistributionMessage::NewBlocks
  • ApprovalDistributionMessage::DistributeAssignment
  • ApprovalDistributionMessage::DistributeApproval
  • ApprovalDistributionMessage::NetworkBridgeUpdateV1
  • OverseerSignal::BlockFinalized

Output:

  • ApprovalVotingMessage::CheckAndImportAssignment
  • ApprovalVotingMessage::CheckAndImportApproval
  • NetworkBridgeMessage::SendValidationMessage::ApprovalDistribution

Functionality


#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
type BlockScopedCandidate = (Hash, CandidateHash);

enum PendingMessage {
  Assignment(IndirectAssignmentCert, CoreIndex),
  Approval(IndirectSignedApprovalVote),
}

/// The `State` struct is responsible for tracking the overall state of the subsystem.
///
/// It tracks metadata about our view of the unfinalized chain, which assignments and approvals we have seen, and our peers' views.
struct State {
  // These two fields are used in conjunction to construct a view over the unfinalized chain.
  blocks_by_number: BTreeMap<BlockNumber, Vec<Hash>>,
  blocks: HashMap<Hash, BlockEntry>,

  /// Our view updates to our peers can race with `NewBlocks` updates. We store messages received
  /// against the directly mentioned blocks in our view in this map until `NewBlocks` is received.
  ///
  /// As long as the parent is already in the `blocks` map and `NewBlocks` messages aren't delayed
  /// by more than a block length, this strategy will work well for mitigating the race. This is
  /// also a race that occurs typically on local networks.
  pending_known: HashMap<Hash, Vec<(PeerId, PendingMessage>)>>,

  // Peer view data is partially stored here, and partially inline within the `BlockEntry`s
  peer_views: HashMap<PeerId, View>,
}

enum MessageFingerprint {
  Assigment(Hash, u32, ValidatorIndex),
  Approval(Hash, u32, ValidatorIndex),
}

struct Knowledge {
  known_messages: HashSet<MessageFingerprint>,
}

struct PeerKnowledge {
  /// The knowledge we've sent to the peer.
  sent: Knowledge,
  /// The knowledge we've received from the peer.
  received: Knowledge,
}

/// Information about blocks in our current view as well as whether peers know of them.
struct BlockEntry {
  // Peers who we know are aware of this block and thus, the candidates within it. This maps to their knowledge of messages.
  known_by: HashMap<PeerId, PeerKnowledge>,
  // The number of the block.
  number: BlockNumber,
  // The parent hash of the block.
  parent_hash: Hash,
  // Our knowledge of messages.
  knowledge: Knowledge,
  // A votes entry for each candidate.
  candidates: IndexMap<CandidateHash, CandidateEntry>,
}

enum ApprovalState {
  Assigned(AssignmentCert),
  Approved(AssignmentCert, ApprovalSignature),
}

/// Information about candidates in the context of a particular block they are included in. In other words,
/// multiple `CandidateEntry`s may exist for the same candidate, if it is included by multiple blocks - this is likely the case
/// when there are forks.
struct CandidateEntry {
  approvals: HashMap<ValidatorIndex, ApprovalState>,
}
}

Network updates

NetworkBridgeEvent::PeerConnected

Add a blank view to the peer_views state.

NetworkBridgeEvent::PeerDisconnected

Remove the view under the associated PeerId from State::peer_views.

Iterate over every BlockEntry and remove PeerId from it.

NetworkBridgeEvent::OurViewChange

Remove entries in pending_known for all hashes not present in the view. Ensure a vector is present in pending_known for each hash in the view that does not have an entry in blocks.

NetworkBridgeEvent::PeerViewChange

Invoke unify_with_peer(peer, view) to catch them up to messages we have.

We also need to use the view.finalized_number to remove the PeerId from any blocks that it won't be wanting information about anymore. Note that we have to be on guard for peers doing crazy stuff like jumping their finalized_number forward 10 trillion blocks to try and get us stuck in a loop for ages.

One of the safeguards we can implement is to reject view updates from peers where the new finalized_number is less than the previous.

We augment that by defining constrain(x) to output the x bounded by the first and last numbers in state.blocks_by_number.

From there, we can loop backwards from constrain(view.finalized_number) until constrain(last_view.finalized_number) is reached, removing the PeerId from all BlockEntrys referenced at that height. We can break the loop early if we ever exit the bound supplied by the first block in state.blocks_by_number.

NetworkBridgeEvent::PeerMessage

If the block hash referenced by the message exists in pending_known, add it to the vector of pending messages and return.

If the message is of type ApprovalDistributionV1Message::Assignment(assignment_cert, claimed_index), then call import_and_circulate_assignment(MessageSource::Peer(sender), assignment_cert, claimed_index)

If the message is of type ApprovalDistributionV1Message::Approval(approval_vote), then call import_and_circulate_approval(MessageSource::Peer(sender), approval_vote)

Subsystem Updates

ApprovalDistributionMessage::NewBlocks

Create BlockEntry and CandidateEntries for all blocks.

For all entries in pending_known:

  • If there is now an entry under blocks for the block hash, drain all messages and import with import_and_circulate_assignment and import_and_circulate_approval.

For all peers:

  • Compute view_intersection as the intersection of the peer's view blocks with the hashes of the new blocks.
  • Invoke unify_with_peer(peer, view_intersection).

ApprovalDistributionMessage::DistributeAsignment

Call import_and_circulate_assignment with MessageSource::Local.

ApprovalDistributionMessage::DistributeApproval

Call import_and_circulate_approval with MessageSource::Local.

OverseerSignal::BlockFinalized

Prune all lists from blocks_by_number with number less than or equal to finalized_number. Prune all the BlockEntrys referenced by those lists.

Utility


#![allow(unused)]
fn main() {
enum MessageSource {
  Peer(PeerId),
  Local,
}
}

import_and_circulate_assignment(source: MessageSource, assignment: IndirectAssignmentCert, claimed_candidate_index: CandidateIndex)

Imports an assignment cert referenced by block hash and candidate index. As a postcondition, if the cert is valid, it will have distributed the cert to all peers who have the block in their view, with the exclusion of the peer referenced by the MessageSource.

We maintain a few invariants:

  • we only send an assignment to a peer after we add its fingerprint to our knowledge
  • we add a fingerprint of an assignment to our knowledge only if it's valid and hasn't been added before

The algorithm is the following:

  • Load the BlockEntry using assignment.block_hash. If it does not exist, report the source if it is MessageSource::Peer and return.
  • Compute a fingerprint for the assignment using claimed_candidate_index.
  • If the source is MessageSource::Peer(sender):
    • check if peer appears under known_by and whether the fingerprint is in the knowledge of the peer. If the peer does not know the block, report for providing data out-of-view and proceed. If the peer does know the block and the sent knowledge contains the fingerprint, report for providing replicate data and return, otherwise, insert into the received knowledge and return.
    • If the message fingerprint appears under the BlockEntry's Knowledge, give the peer a small positive reputation boost, add the fingerprint to the peer's knowledge only if it knows about the block and return. Note that we must do this after checking for out-of-view and if the peers knows about the block to avoid being spammed. If we did this check earlier, a peer could provide data out-of-view repeatedly and be rewarded for it.
    • Dispatch ApprovalVotingMessage::CheckAndImportAssignment(assignment) and wait for the response.
    • If the result is AssignmentCheckResult::Accepted
      • If the vote was accepted but not duplicate, give the peer a positive reputation boost
      • add the fingerprint to both our and the peer's knowledge in the BlockEntry. Note that we only doing this after making sure we have the right fingerprint.
    • If the result is AssignmentCheckResult::AcceptedDuplicate, add the fingerprint to the peer's knowledge if it knows about the block and return.
    • If the result is AssignmentCheckResult::TooFarInFuture, mildly punish the peer and return.
    • If the result is AssignmentCheckResult::Bad, punish the peer and return.
  • If the source is MessageSource::Local(CandidateIndex)
    • check if the fingerprint appears under the BlockEntry's knowledge. If not, add it.
  • Load the candidate entry for the given candidate index. It should exist unless there is a logic error in the approval voting subsystem.
  • Set the approval state for the validator index to ApprovalState::Assigned unless the approval state is set already. This should not happen as long as the approval voting subsystem instructs us to ignore duplicate assignments.
  • Dispatch a ApprovalDistributionV1Message::Assignment(assignment, candidate_index) to all peers in the BlockEntry's known_by set, excluding the peer in the source, if source has kind MessageSource::Peer. Add the fingerprint of the assignment to the knowledge of each peer.

import_and_circulate_approval(source: MessageSource, approval: IndirectSignedApprovalVote)

Imports an approval signature referenced by block hash and candidate index:

  • Load the BlockEntry using approval.block_hash and the candidate entry using approval.candidate_entry. If either does not exist, report the source if it is MessageSource::Peer and return.
  • Compute a fingerprint for the approval.
  • Compute a fingerprint for the corresponding assignment. If the BlockEntry's knowledge does not contain that fingerprint, then report the source if it is MessageSource::Peer and return. All references to a fingerprint after this refer to the approval's, not the assignment's.
  • If the source is MessageSource::Peer(sender):
    • check if peer appears under known_by and whether the fingerprint is in the knowledge of the peer. If the peer does not know the block, report for providing data out-of-view and proceed. If the peer does know the block and the sent knowledge contains the fingerprint, report for providing replicate data and return, otherwise, insert into the received knowledge and return.
    • If the message fingerprint appears under the BlockEntry's Knowledge, give the peer a small positive reputation boost, add the fingerprint to the peer's knowledge only if it knows about the block and return. Note that we must do this after checking for out-of-view to avoid being spammed. If we did this check earlier, a peer could provide data out-of-view repeatedly and be rewarded for it.
    • Dispatch ApprovalVotingMessage::CheckAndImportApproval(approval) and wait for the response.
    • If the result is VoteCheckResult::Accepted(()):
      • Give the peer a positive reputation boost and add the fingerprint to both our and the peer's knowledge.
    • If the result is VoteCheckResult::Bad:
      • Report the peer and return.
  • Load the candidate entry for the given candidate index. It should exist unless there is a logic error in the approval voting subsystem.
  • Set the approval state for the validator index to ApprovalState::Approved. It should already be in the Assigned state as our BlockEntry knowledge contains a fingerprint for the assignment.
  • Dispatch a ApprovalDistributionV1Message::Approval(approval) to all peers in the BlockEntry's known_by set, excluding the peer in the source, if source has kind MessageSource::Peer. Add the fingerprint of the assignment to the knowledge of each peer. Note that this obeys the politeness conditions:
    • We guarantee elsewhere that all peers within known_by are aware of all assignments relative to the block.
    • We've checked that this specific approval has a corresponding assignment within the BlockEntry.
    • Thus, all peers are aware of the assignment or have a message to them in-flight which will make them so.

unify_with_peer(peer: PeerId, view):

  1. Initialize a set fresh_blocks = {}

For each block in the view:

  1. Load the BlockEntry for the block. If the block is unknown, or the number is less than or equal to the view's finalized number go to step 6.

  2. Inspect the known_by set of the BlockEntry. If the peer is already present, go to step 6.

  3. Add the peer to known_by with a cloned version of block_entry.knowledge. and add the hash of the block to fresh_blocks.

  4. Return to step 2 with the ancestor of the block.

  5. For each block in fresh_blocks, send all assignments and approvals for all candidates in those blocks to the peer.