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The Astria Conductor

The Conductor can be thought of as the consensus implementation of a rollup full node, similar to op-node within the OP Stack. Conductor is the counterpart to the execution engine, which together make up a full rollup node. Its role is to connect the sequencer and Data Availability layers to the rollup execution layer by extracting the transactions belonging to the rollup node from each sequencer block, and forwarding them to the execution layer.

The conductor’s flow is as follows:

  • For each sequencer block, extract the relevant rollup data it needs
  • validate the batch of rollup data; this includes verifying that the corresponding sequencer block was finalized, as well as verifying that the rollup data it extracted is complete (there are no rollup transactions missing), correct (there are no rollup transactions in the batch that shouldn’t be), and properly-ordered (the ordering of the rollup transactions matches what was finalized by the sequencer chain). It is able to do this by verifying the data against the rollup data commitment included in the sequencer block.
  • Once it has validated the rollup data, it turns it into a list of transactions, which are passed to the execution engine.

Note that the conductor, like the sequencer, is agnostic to the rollup’s transaction format and execution engine; it simply treats transactions as an arbitrary byte array.

Data verification

The conductor needs to verify the data it receives before passing it to the rollup. Specifically, it needs to verify that the data is actually what was sequenced by the sequencer in the correct order, that there is no data missing, and that there is no additional data added. The conductor wishes to do this without pulling the entire set of sequenced data or the entire sequencer block, as this is additional data it doesn’t need.

This is achieved by placing a commitment to the entire set of sequenced data in every sequencer block. This commitment is the Merkle root of a tree where each leaf is a commitment to the data for one specific rollup. This commitment is checked by every validator node on the sequencer network, thus has the majority of stake backing it. Then, the conductor can verify the rollup data received is correct by validating:

  • the commitment to the entire set of sequenced data was committed by the network, via the set of validator signatures on the block
  • the commitment to its specific rollup data is included in that, via a merkle proof of inclusion
  • the rollup data it receives corresponds to the commitment for that rollup data, via recalculating the commitment

After all of these steps are done, the conductor can be certain that the rollup data is actually what was sequenced.

There is an additional verification step needed: since the conductor doesn’t pull an entire block’s data, there needs to be consensus over what rollup IDs were sequenced in a sequencer block. It’s possible that a sequencer node doesn’t advertise that a rollup ID was included (i.e. by not posting it to the data availability layer). Then, the conductor would think that it simply had no sequenced data in a certain block when it actually did.

This is fixed by having a commitment to all the rollup IDs sequenced inside each sequencer block, which is checked and voted on by every validator. Then, the conductor receives a list of all the rollup IDs sequenced in a block and verifies that against the rollup IDs commitment to be certain as to whether a block had data for it or not.

Soft and Firm Commitments

The Conductor also retrieves the soft commitments from the sequencer, and firm commitments from the data availability layer.

The soft commitments act as fast pre-confirmations and are implicitly verified by the Conductor via a fully trusted connection to the sequencer. All data retried from the sequencer is automatically considered a soft commitment because that data can't be added to the sequencer chain unless validated by the sequencer network.

The firm commitments that are retrieved from the data availability layer are considered finalized, and are explicitly verified by the conductor before passing onto the rollup. Data that can be retrieved from the data availability layer is considered widely available and all historical syncing of data for rollups is retrieved in this way.