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Caching Block Hashes

The AxiomV2Core smart contract caches block hashes from Ethereum's history and allows smart contracts to verify them against this cache. These historic block hashes are stored in two ways:

  • As a Merkle root corresponding to a batch of block numbers [startBlockNumber, startBlockNumber + numFinal) where startBlockNumber is a multiple of 1024, and numFinal is in [1,1024]. This is stored in historicalRoots.
  • As a padded Merkle mountain range of the Merkle roots of batches of 1024 block hashes starting from genesis to a recent block.

Caching Merkle roots of block hashes

AxiomV2Core caches the Keccak Merkle roots of consecutive sequences of blocks, up to 1024 in total, in the mapping

mapping(uint32 => bytes32) public historicalRoots;

Here historicalRoots[startBlockNumber] is 0x0 unless the block hashes for block numbers [startBlockNumber, startBlockNumber + numFinal) have already been verified. In the latter case,

historicalRoots[startBlockNumber] = keccak(prevHash . root . numFinal)

where . denotes concatenation,

  • prevHash is the block hash of block startBlockNumber - 1,
  • root is the Merkle root of the block hashes with block numbers in [startBlockNumber, startBlockNumber + numFinal), padded with bytes32(0x0) to form the 1024 leaves of a Merkle tree, and
  • numFinal in [1, 1024] is the number of block hashes verified in this range of blocks.

The cache is updated via the interface IAxiomV2Update by calling the updateRecent, updateOld, or updateHistorical functions with the following function signatures:

function updateRecent(bytes calldata proofData) external;
function updateOld(
bytes32 nextRoot,
uint32 nextNumFinal,
bytes calldata proofData
) external;
function updateHistorical(
bytes32 nextRoot,
uint32 nextNumFinal,
bytes32[128] calldata roots,
bytes32[11][127] calldata endHashProofs,
bytes calldata proofData
) external;

These functions verify a ZK proof of the block header commitment chain and update historicalRoots accordingly:

  • updateRecent: Verifies a zero-knowledge proof that proves the block header commitment chain from [startBlockNumber, startBlockNumber + numFinal) is correct, where startBlockNumber is a multiple of 1024, and numFinal is in [1,1024]. This reverts unless startBlockNumber + numFinal - 1 is in 256 most recent block hashes, i.e., if blockhash(startBlockNumber + numFinal - 1) is accessible from within the smart contract at the block this function is called. The zero-knowledge proof checks that each parent hash is in the block header of the next block, and that the block header hashes to the block hash. This is accepted only if the block hash of startBlockNumber + numFinal - 1, according to the zero-knowledge proof, matches the block hash according to the EVM.
  • updateOld: Verifies a zero-knowledge proof that proves the block header commitment chain from [startBlockNumber, startBlockNumber + 1024) is correct, where block startBlockNumber + 1024 must already be cached by the smart contract. This stores a single new Merkle root in the cache.
  • updateHistorical: Same as updateOld except that it uses a different zero-knowledge proof to prove the block header commitment chain from [startBlockNumber, startBlockNumber + 2 ** 17). Requires block startBlockNumber + 2 ** 17 to already be cached by the smart contract. This stores 2 ** 7 = 128 new Merkle roots in the cache.

These functions emit the event

event UpdateEvent(
uint32 startBlockNumber,
bytes32 prevHash,
bytes32 root,
uint32 numFinal

for each update of historicalRoots.

Updating the padded Merkle mountain range

In order to allow access to block hashes across large block ranges, AxiomV2Core stores historic block hashes in a second redundant form by maintaining a padded Merkle mountain range which commits to a contiguous chain of block hashes starting from genesis using:

  • A Merkle mountain range over Merkle roots of 1024 consecutive block hashes
  • A padded Merkle root of part of the most recent 1024 block hashes.

The latest padded Merkle mountain range is stored in blockhashPmmr. The mapping

mapping(uint32 => bytes32) public pmmrSnapshots;

caches commitments to recent values of blockhashPmmr to faciliate asynchronous proving against a Merkle mountain range which may be updated on-chain during proving.

Updates to blockhashPmmr are made using newly verified Merkle roots added to historicalRoots. Updates are made either alongside historicalRoots updates in updateRecent or by calling appendHistoricalMMR, which has the following function signature:

function appendHistoricalMMR(
uint32 startBlockNumber,
bytes32[] calldata roots,
bytes32[] calldata prevHashes
) external;

This function batch appends new Merkle roots in historicalRoots which are not already committed to in blockhashPmmr (usually because they were added by updateOld).

Reading from the cache

There are two ways to read from the cache, encapsulated by the IAxiomV2Verifier interface:

  • Verifying the block hash of a block within the last 256 most recent blocks can be done through isRecentBlockHashValid.
  • To verify a historical block hash, one should use the isBlockHashValid method which takes in a struct IAxiomV2Verifier.BlockHashWitness. This provides a Merkle proof of a block hash into one of the Merkle roots stored in historicalRoots. The isBlockHashValid method verifies that the Merkle proof is a valid Merkle path for the relevant block hash and checks that the Merkle root lies in the AxiomV2Core cache.
struct BlockHashWitness {
uint32 blockNumber;
bytes32 claimedBlockHash;
bytes32 prevHash;
uint32 numFinal;
bytes32[] merkleProof;