Filename: 298-canonical-families.txt
Title: Putting family lines in canonical form
Author: Nick Mathewson
Created: 31-Oct-2018
Status: Closed
Target: 0.3.6.x

1. Introduction

   With ticket #27359, we begin encoding microdescriptor families in
   memory in a reference-counted form, so that if 10 relays all list the
   same family, their family only needs to be stored once.  For large
   families, this has the potential to save a lot of RAM -- but only if
   the families are the same across those relays.

   Right now, family lines are often encoded in different ways, and
   placed into consensuses and microdescriptor lines in whatever format
   the relay reported.

   This proposal describes an algorithm that authorities should use
   while voting to place families into a canonical format.

   This algorithm is forward-compatible, so that new family line formats
   can be supported in the future.

2. The canonicalizing algorithm

   To make a the family listed in a router descriptor canonical:

      For all entries of the form $hexid=name or $hexid~name, remove
      the =name or ~name portion.

      Remove all entries of the form $hexid, where hexid is not 40
      hexadecimal characters long.

      If an entry is a valid nickname, put it into lower case.

      If an entry is a valid $hexid, put it into upper case.

      If there are any entries, add a single $hexid entry for the relay
      in question, so that it is a member of its own family.

      Sort all entries in lexical order.

      Remove duplicate entries.

   Note that if an entry is not of the form "nickname", "$hexid",
   "$hexid=nickname" or "$hexid~nickname", then it will be unchanged:
   this is what makes the algorithm forward-compatible.

3. When to apply this algorithm

   We allocate a new consensus method number.  When building a consensus
   using this method or later, before encoding a family entry into a
   microdescriptor, the authorities should apply the algorithm above.

   Relay MAY apply this algorithm to their own families before
   publishing them.  Unlike authorities, relays SHOULD warn about
   unrecognized family items.