The main responsibility of the TCE network is to execute a broadcast primitive named the Topos Reliable Broadcast (TRB) that propagates and securely delivers certificates across the Topos ecosystem to prevent conflicting certificates.
By its consensusless nature, the TRB is a simpler, more efficient and more robust implementation than consensus-based solution, which is important from a security perspective. The protocol is permissionless and allows for dynamic reconfiguration.
The TRB exposes the following interface:
broadcast(m): used by a process inside the system to broadcast a message
deliver(p,m): used by a process inside the system to handle the delivery of a message
And satisfies the following key properties:
Integrity: For all processes
p and message
m, an honest process executes
deliver(p, m) at most once and, if
p is honest, only if
q are honest and
q are honest processes and
Source ordering: If
q are honest processes and both execute
deliver(r,m'), then they do so in the same relative order.
To correctly execute the TRB protocol, TCE nodes locally hold the following variables:
history(S_j): The local set of accepted incoming and outgoing certificates involving subnet
digest(S_i): The local set of incoming certificates involving subnet
S_i since its last outgoing certificate.
mempool: The local set of certificates pending for acceptation (not yet accepted nor included).
A certificate is incoming if it contains a cross-subnet transaction addressed to the corresponding subnet, and outgoing if produced by the corresponding subnet.
A new TCE node, once it has joined the TCE network, has successfully built three samples of peers:
Echosample and its associated threshold
Readysample and its associated threshold
Deliverysample and its associated threshold
Starting from this basis, a TCE node node starts exchanging sample-specific subcription messages with its
Upon receiving sample-specific subscription messages from other nodes, a TCE node adds the corresponding message senders in new samples in the following manner:
- Senders of
Echosubscription messages are added to a new set;
- Senders of
Readysubscription messages are added to a new set.
A TCE node interacts with its samples as follows:
- It only listens for messages coming from peers in samples , , and ;
- It only sends messages to peers in sets and .
In the TCE, the per-node communication is logarithmic in the size of the system and the overall communication complexity of the system is quasilinear, which allows the TCE to seamlessly scale to billions of processes.
To submit a certificate
Cert, the subnet broadcasts a message
m = (Cert, digest(S_j)) to the TCE nodes it is connected to. Upon receiving this message, the TCE nodes propagate it to the rest of the TCE network via gossip.
digest(S_j) contains incoming (from the point of view of subnet
S_j) certificates sent by other subnets since
S_j's last certificate.
The ICE-FROST signed message
m eventually reaches all the TCE nodes. After a correct node receives
m, it verifies the message signature and if correct, it sends an
Echo message to all nodes in its set.
Each correct node issues a
Ready message to all the nodes in if it has received more than
Ready) messages from (resp. ).
At this point, the message containing the certificate is yet to be delivered. In order for a correct node to deliver the message, it needs to have received more than
Ready messages from its delivery sample .
Upon delivery, a correct node checks if
m is well-formed, and then adds it to the pool of messages pending validation
Before applying the certificate from subnet
S_j to its state, a correct TCE node validates the certificate via the certificate validation function.
Once a certificate passes validation, the TCE node applies the certificate to its local state. Applying a certificate means that the TCE node adds the certificate
Cert and its digest
digest(S_j) to the history of subnet
Having the ready sample is paramount for the totality property of the TRB, as it creates a feedback loop. Consequently, either all correct processes will eventually deliver
m, or none of them will.