Candidate Backing

The Candidate Backing subsystem ensures every parablock considered for relay block inclusion has been seconded by at least one validator, and approved by a quorum. Parablocks for which not enough validators will assert correctness are discarded. If the block later proves invalid, the initial backers are slashable; this gives Polkadot a rational threat model during subsequent stages.

Its role is to produce backable candidates for inclusion in new relay-chain blocks. It does so by issuing signed Statements and tracking received statements signed by other validators. Once enough statements are received, they can be combined into backing for specific candidates.

Note that though the candidate backing subsystem attempts to produce as many backable candidates as possible, it does not attempt to choose a single authoritative one. The choice of which actually gets included is ultimately up to the block author, by whatever metrics it may use; those are opaque to this subsystem.

Once a sufficient quorum has agreed that a candidate is valid, this subsystem notifies the Provisioner, which in turn engages block production mechanisms to include the parablock.


Input: CandidateBackingMessage



The Collator Protocol subsystem is the primary source of non-overseer messages into this subsystem. That subsystem generates appropriate CandidateBackingMessages and passes them to this subsystem.

This subsystem requests validation from the Candidate Validation and generates an appropriate Statement. All Statements are then passed on to the Statement Distribution subsystem to be gossiped to peers. When Candidate Validation decides that a candidate is invalid, and it was recommended to us to second by our own Collator Protocol subsystem, a message is sent to the Collator Protocol subsystem with the candidate's hash so that the collator which recommended it can be penalized.

The subsystem should maintain a set of handles to Candidate Backing Jobs that are currently live, as well as the relay-parent to which they correspond.

On Overseer Signal

  • If the signal is an OverseerSignal::ActiveLeavesUpdate:
    • spawn a Candidate Backing Job for each activated head referring to a fresh leaf, storing a bidirectional channel with the Candidate Backing Job in the set of handles.
    • cease the Candidate Backing Job for each deactivated head, if any.
  • If the signal is an OverseerSignal::Conclude: Forward conclude messages to all jobs, wait a small amount of time for them to join, and then exit.

On Receiving CandidateBackingMessage

  • If the message is a CandidateBackingMessage::GetBackedCandidates, get all backable candidates from the statement table and send them back.
  • If the message is a CandidateBackingMessage::Second, sign and dispatch a Seconded statement only if we have not seconded any other candidate and have not signed a Valid statement for the requested candidate. Signing both a Seconded and Valid message is a double-voting misbehavior with a heavy penalty, and this could occur if another validator has seconded the same candidate and we've received their message before the internal seconding request.
  • If the message is a CandidateBackingMessage::Statement, count the statement to the quorum. If the statement in the message is Seconded and it contains a candidate that belongs to our assignment, request the corresponding PoV from the backing node via AvailabilityDistribution and launch validation. Issue our own Valid or Invalid statement as a result.

If the seconding node did not provide us with the PoV we will retry fetching from other backing validators.

big TODO: "contextual execution"

  • At the moment we only allow inclusion of new parachain candidates validated by current validators.
  • Allow inclusion of old parachain candidates validated by current validators.
  • Allow inclusion of old parachain candidates validated by old validators.

This will probably blur the lines between jobs, will probably require inter-job communication and a short-term memory of recently backable, but not backed candidates.

Candidate Backing Job

The Candidate Backing Job represents the work a node does for backing candidates with respect to a particular relay-parent.

The goal of a Candidate Backing Job is to produce as many backable candidates as possible. This is done via signed Statements by validators. If a candidate receives a majority of supporting Statements from the Parachain Validators currently assigned, then that candidate is considered backable.

On Startup

On Receiving New Candidate Backing Message

fn main() {
match msg {
  GetBackedCandidates(hashes, tx) => {
    // Send back a set of backable candidates.
  CandidateBackingMessage::Second(hash, candidate) => {
    if candidate is unknown and in local assignment {
      if spawn_validation_work(candidate, parachain head, validation function).await == Valid {
  CandidateBackingMessage::Statement(hash, statement) => {
    // count to the votes on this candidate
    if let Statement::Seconded(candidate) = statement {
      if candidate.parachain_id == our_assignment {
        spawn_validation_work(candidate, parachain head, validation function)

Add Seconded statements and Valid statements to a quorum. If the quorum reaches a pre-defined threshold, send a ProvisionerMessage::ProvisionableData(ProvisionableData::BackedCandidate(CandidateReceipt)) message. Invalid statements that conflict with already witnessed Seconded and Valid statements for the given candidate, statements that are double-votes, self-contradictions and so on, should result in issuing a ProvisionerMessage::MisbehaviorReport message for each newly detected case of this kind.

Backing does not need to concern itself with providing statements to the dispute coordinator as the dispute coordinator scrapes them from chain. This way the import is batched and contains only statements that actually made it on some chain.

Validating Candidates

fn main() {
fn spawn_validation_work(candidate, parachain head, validation function) {
  asynchronously {
    let pov = (fetch pov block).await

    let valid = (validate pov block).await;
    if valid {
      // make PoV available for later distribution. Send data to the availability store to keep.
      // sign and dispatch `valid` statement to network if we have not seconded the given candidate.
    } else {
      // sign and dispatch `invalid` statement to network.

Fetch PoV Block

Create a (sender, receiver) pair. Dispatch a AvailabilityDistributionMessage::FetchPoV{ validator_index, pov_hash, candidate_hash, tx, } and listen on the passed receiver for a response. Availability distribution will send the request to the validator specified by validator_index, which might not be serving it for whatever reasons, therefore we need to retry with other backing validators in that case.

Validate PoV Block

Create a (sender, receiver) pair. Dispatch a CandidateValidationMessage::Validate(validation function, candidate, pov, BACKING_EXECUTION_TIMEOUT, sender) and listen on the receiver for a response.

Distribute Signed Statement

Dispatch a StatementDistributionMessage::Share(relay_parent, SignedFullStatementWithPVD).