# RFC-313/VN Registration

Maintainer(s): stringhandler, SW van heerden and sdbondi

# Licence

Copyright 2022 The Tari Development Community

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## Language

The keywords "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY" and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 (covering RFC2119 and RFC8174) when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

## Disclaimer

This document and its content are intended for information purposes only and may be subject to change or update without notice.

This document may include preliminary concepts that may or may not be in the process of being developed by the Tari community. The release of this document is intended solely for review and discussion by the community of the technological merits of the potential system outlined herein.

## Goals

The goal of this RFC is to outline the DAN validator node registration requirements and define a set of procedures that allow permissionless participation in the DAN. This includes defining the interaction between the validator and base node, new base layer validations, and validator shard key allocation.

## Overview

Building on the RFC-0303, we define the mechanism that allows DAN validators to register on the DAN network.

Each validator requires a connection to a trusted base-layer node that provides a canonical view of the blockchain. The blockchain serves as a shared logical clock for the DAN.

In this RFC, we will show that the validators can leverage the strong liveness guarantees of proof-of-work while providing a scheme that mitigates the effects of weak safety guarantees (namely, reorgs) on the base layer.

## Requirements and Definitions

1. To participate in DAN BFT consensus, a validator node MUST be registered on the Layer 1 Tari blockchain.
2. Each registration expires after a number of epochs, at which point the validator may no longer participate in DAN consensus.
3. A validator MAY re-register before or after the expiration epoch is reached to allow continued participation in DAN consensus.
4. A validator registration MUST be submitted as a base layer ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXO signed by the VN_Public_Key
5. A validator MUST be assigned a deterministic but randomized VN_Shard_Key that can be verified at any epoch by other validators by inspecting the base layer.
6. The VN_Shard_Key MUST be periodically reassigned/shuffled to prevent prolonged control over a particular shard space.
7. A validator MUST be able to generate a Merkle proof that it is registered for the epoch that it is currently participating.
8. The validator set for any given epoch MUST be unambiguous between validators or anyone observing the base layer chain.
9. Base layer reorgs MUST NOT negatively affect the DAN layer.

We define the following validator variables:

SymbolNameDescription
$V_i$VN_Public_KeyThe $i$th public validator node key
$S_i$VN_Shard_KeyThe $i$th 256-bit VN shard key.
$\epsilon_i$EpochThe $i$th epoch. An epoch is EpochLength blocks.

An epoch $\epsilon$ is defined by the base layer block height $h$, where $\epsilon_i = \lfloor \frac{h}{\text{EpochLength}} \rfloor$, and spans all blocks from the start of the epoch up to but excluding the start of the next epoch.

Base layer consensus constants (all values TBD):

NameValueDescription
EpochLength60 Blocks (~2h)The number of blocks in an epoch
VNRegistrationValidityPeriod20 Epochs (~40hrs)The number of epochs that a validator node registration is valid
VNRegDepositAmountTBD TariThe minimum amount that must be spent to create a valid ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXO
VNRegLockHeight10 EpochsThe lock height that must be set on every ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXO
VNShardShuffleInterval100 EpochsThe interval that a validator node shard key is shuffled

Validator node consensus constants:

NameValueDescription
VNConfirmationPeriod1000 Blocks

## Validator Registration

A validator node operator wishing to participate in DAN consensus MUST generate a Ristretto keypair <VN_Public_Key, VN_Secret_Key> that serves as a stable DAN identity and a signing key for L2 consensus messages. The VN_Public_Key MUST be registered on the base layer by submitting a ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXO which allows the validator to participate in DAN consensus for VNRegistrationValidityPeriod.

The published ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXO has these requirements:

1. MUST contain a valid Schnorr signature that proves knowledge of the VN_Secret_Key
• The signature challenge is defined as $e = H(P \mathbin\Vert R \mathbin\Vert m)$
• $R$ is a public nonce, $P$ is the public VN_Public_Key
• $m$ is the UTXO commitment
2. the UTXO's minimum_value must be at least VNRegDepositAmount to mitigate spam/Sybil attacks,
3. the UTXO lock-height must be set to VNRegLockHeight.
4. A script which burns the validator node registration funds if the validator does not reclaim it for a long period after the lock height expires.
OP_PUSH_INT(N) OP_COMPARE_HEIGHT OP_LTE_ZERO OP_IF_THEN
NOP
OP_ELSE
OP_RETURN
OP_END_IF


By submitting this UTXO the validator node operator is committing to providing a highly-available node from the next epoch after the validator node registration was submitted to VNRegistrationValidityPeriod epochs after that.

A validator node operator MAY re-register their VN_Public_Key before the VNRegistrationValidityPeriod epoch is reached, OPTIONALLY spending the previous ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXO. If the previous ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXO has not expired and a new ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXO is submitted, the new ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXO supersedes the previous one.

The validator node may implement auto re-registration to ensure that the validator node continues to be included in the current VN set without constant manual intervention.

A validator MAY deregister by spending their ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXO. This will remove the validator from the current VN set in the next epoch.

### Base-layer consensus

The base layer performs the following additional validations for ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXOs:

1. The VN_Registration_Signature MUST be valid for the given VN_Public_Key and challenge
2. The minimum_value field MUST be at least VNRegDepositAmount. The existing minumum_value validation ensures the committed value is correct.

Additionally, we introduce a new block header field validator_node_mr that contains a Merkle root committing to all validator Vn_Shard_Keys in the current epoch. The validator_node_mr needs to be recalculated at every EpochSize blocks to account for departing and arriving nodes. The validator_node_mr MUST remain unchanged for blocks between epochs, that is, blocks that are not multiples of EpochSize.

A validator generates a Merkle proof that proves its VN_Shard_Key is included in the validator set for any given epoch. This proof is provided in layer 2 Quorum Certificates.

The validator_node_mr is calculated for each block as follows:

1. if the current block height is a multiple of EpochSize
• then fetch the VN set for the epoch
• build a merkle tree from the VN set, each node is $H(V_i \mathbin\Vert S_i)$
2. otherwise, fetch the previous block's validator_node_mr and return it

## Epoch transitions

The DAN BFT consensus protocol relies on a shared and consistent "source of truth" from the base layer chain that defines the current epoch and validator set as well as templates.

As briefly mentioned in the overview, any PoW base layer chain is prone to reorgs. The question arises, how do we achieve a shared, consistent view of the chain when the data can disappear from underneath you?

We define a VNConfirmationPeriod as is a network-wide constant that specifies the number confirmations (blocks) that a block must have before a validator will recognise it as final. The chosen value for VNConfirmationPeriod must be large enough to make reorgs beyond that point practically impossible. Validators simply ignore base layer reorgs with a depth less than VNConfirmationPeriod deep as the data they have extracted is still valid. This means that the point of finality is not always VNConfirmationPeriod blocks away from the tip and is non-decreasing/monotonic which effectively negates reorg "noise" from the chain tip.

However, this does not address base layer latency delays where a single huge block or multi-block reorgs may take seconds to be received and processed by all base nodes. Moreover, the validators may poll the base layer only every few seconds, further increasing the latency for validators to become aware of the state. This means a single strict validator epoch change-over point will almost always cause liveness failures at and after the epoch transition.

To address this, we define a VNEpochGracePeriod where both the previous and current epoch are accepted. This value, in blocks, must allow enough time for all validators to become aware of the base layer state for the epoch.

To illustrate, consider the following view of a base layer chain. We mark 3 views of the chain.

                                      (a) (b) (c)
|   |   |                                         {noisy}
------ | --x------------ | --x------------ | --x------------ | --x------------ | --- .... ------> tip
|  ϵ10       |   |    ϵ11       |      ϵ12       |       ϵ13               ϵ14
V_1          V_2 V_3   V_4      V_5              V_6
Key:
x - Epoch transition point
ϵn - Epoch n
V_n - Validator registrations


Point (a)

• the validator node set is incomplete for epoch 12.
• the active epoch is 11.
• the validator MUST reject instructions for epoch 12.

Point (b) - the start of epoch 12:

• the validator node set is final for epoch 12.
• the active epoch remains at 11. This is because validators may not have reached epoch 12/point (b) and therefore will only accept epoch 11.
• a validator MUST accept instructions from epoch 11 and 12.
• a validator may receive a leader proposal for epoch 11 and 12, however a well-behaved validator MUST only vote for one of these proposals.

Point (c) - the transition point for epoch 12:

• the active epoch is now 12
• the validator MUST reject instructions from 11.
• it is assumed at this point that almost all (at least $2f + 1$) nodes will accept epoch 12

#### Validator Node Set Definition

The function $\text{get_vn_set}(\epsilon_\text{start}, \epsilon_\text{end}) \rightarrow \vec{S}$ that returns an ordered vector $\vec{S}$ of VN_Shard_Keys that are registered for the epoch $\epsilon_n$. The validator node set is ordered by VN_Shard_Key.

##### Data Indexes

The following additional indexes are recommended to allow efficient retrieval of the VN set, shard key mappings and to produce a valid validator_node_mr:

• $I_\text{primary} = \{ (h_i, V_i, C_i) \rightarrow (V_i, S_i) \}$
• $I_\text{shard} = \{ (V_i, h_i, C_i) \rightarrow S_i \}$
• $C_i$ is the $i$th UTXO commitment

Database index $I_\text{primary}$ that maintains a mapping from the next epoch after the registration to all the <VN_Public_Key, VN_Shard_Key> tuples for all ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXOs. This allows efficient retrieval from a particular height onwards, optionally for a particular validator node public key.

The index entry is not removed whenever the ValidatorNodeRegistration UTXO is spent or expires. This is to allow state to be rewound for reorgs. If a validator adds two or more validator registration UTXOS in the same block, the index will order them by commitment, that is, the same canonical ordering as the Tari block body. The get_vn_set function MUST return the last registration public key and shard key tuple only, according to this canonical ordering.

#### Algorithm

The function $\text{get_vn_set}$ is defined as follows:

1. Iterate on index $I_\text{primary}$, starting from where the key is between (inclusive) the equivalent block height for $\epsilon_\text{start}$ and $\epsilon_\text{end}$:
• Add to the set, and
• if the validator node public key is already in the set, remove the previous entry.

For this example, we say that there have been no registrations prior to V_1; we define VNRegistrationValidityPeriod = 2 epochs.

                                    (a)            (b)            (c)
|              |              |                      {noisy}
------ | --x------------ | --x------------ | --x------------ | --x------------ | --- .... ------> tip
|   ϵ10       |   |    ϵ11       |      ϵ12  |    |       ϵ13               ϵ14
V_1           V_2 V_3  V_4       V_5         V_2  V_6

Key:
x - Epoch transition point
ϵn - Epoch n
V_n - Validator Node Registration UTXO n

• Point (a) $\text{get_vn_set}(\epsilon_11) -> [V_1, V_2, V_3]$
• Point (b):
• In: $[V_2, V_3, V_4, V_5]$, out: $[V_1]$
• $\text{get_vn_set}(\epsilon_12) -> [V_2, V_3, V_4, V_5]$
• Point (c):
• In: $[V_6]$, out: $[]$
• $\text{get_vn_set}(\epsilon_13) -> [V_2, V_4, V_5, V_6]$

### Shard Key and Shuffling

The VN_Shard_Key is a deterministic 256-bit random number that is assigned to a validator node by the base layer for a given epoch, and maps onto the 256-bit shard space.

The DAN network needs to agree on and maintain a mapping between each participant's VN_Public_Key and the corresponding VN_Shard_Key for the current epoch.

Over time, an adversary may gain excessive control over a particular shard space. To mitigate this, we introduce a shuffling mechanism that periodically and randomly reassigns VN_Shard_Keys within the network.

We define the function $\text{generate_shard_key}(V_n, \eta) \rightarrow S$ that generates the VN_Shard_Key from the inputs. $S = H_\text{shard}(V_n \mathbin\Vert \eta)$ where $H_\text{shard}$ is a domain-separated Blake256 hash function, $V_n$ is the public VN_Public_Key and $\eta$ is some entropy.

And we define the function $\text{derive_shard_key}(S_{n-1}, V_n, \epsilon_n, \hat{B}) \rightarrow S$ that deterministically derives the VN_Shard_Key for epoch $\epsilon_n$ from the public VN_Public_Key $V_n$, $\hat{B}$ the block hash at height $\epsilon_n * \text{EpochSize} - 1$ (the block before the epoch block).

The function $\text{derive_shard_key}$ is defined as follows:

1. Given:
• $S_{n-1}$ the previous VN_Shard_Key
• $V$ the VN_Public_Key
• $\epsilon_n$ the epoch number to generate a VN_Shard_Key for
• $\hat{B}$ the previous block hash
2. If the previous shard key $S_{n-1}$ is not null,
• Check $(V + \epsilon_n) \bmod \text{ShufflePeriod} == 0$.
• If true, generate a new shard key using $\text{generate_shard_key}(V, \hat{B})$.
• If false, return $S_{n-1}$.
3. If the previous shard key $S_{n-1}$ is null,
• generate a new shard key using $\text{generate_shard_key}(V, \hat{B})$.

Only a random fraction of validators will be re-assigned shard keys per epoch and that fraction will not be shuffled again for VNShardShuffleInterval epochs. Although the exact number of validators that shuffle per epoch varies, on average the VNShardShuffleInterval should aim to shuffle around 5% of the network at every epoch. This is to ensure that the number of shuffling validators is much less than $\frac{1}{3}$ of the validator set, as this could break liveness and safety guarantees.

The prev_shard_key is the last VN_Shard_Key that was assigned to the validator node within the VNRegistrationValidityPeriod. Should VNRegistrationValidityPeriod elapse without a renewed registration, a new VN_Shard_Key is assigned. This means that a validator may be assigned a different VN_Shard_Key after each VNRegistrationValidityPeriod, sooner than VNShardShuffleInterval. The validator has nothing to gain from this, on the contrary, they will have to re-sync their state and spend time not participating in the network, losing out on fees.

# Change Log

DateChangeAuthor
12 Oct 2022First outlineSWvHeerden