Child Tries

pallets/child-trie, pallets/simple-crowdfund

A trie is an ordered tree structure for managing dynamic sets. For any given parent node, all descendants (children) share a common prefix associated with the parent.

This construction lends itself to efficient removal of subgroups of a dataset (similar to double_map). By associating a common prefix with related data, the dataset can be partitioned to effectively batch deletions.

Every change in the leaves percolates up to the root, thereby providing a complete, succinct history of all changes to the underlying data structure in the form of the trie root hash.

Runtime Child Storage

To interact with child tries, there are methods exposed in runtime child storage. Of the methods listed in the documentation, it is worth emphasizing the method associated with batch deletion.

/// Remove all `storage_key` key/values
pub fn kill_storage(storage_key: &[u8]) {

/// Remove value associated with `key` in trie with `storage_key`
pub fn kill(storage_key: &[u8], key: &[u8]) {
	runtime_io::clear_child_storage(storage_key, key);

kill_storage deletes all (key, value) pairs associated with the storage_key. The basic API for interacting with a given child trie follows this format:

// pseudocode
child::do(trie_id, key, value);

To put an object in a child trie, the code would look something like

fn kv_put(index: ObjectCount, who: &T::AccountId, value_type: &ValueType) {
    let mut buf = Vec::new();

	let id = CHILD_STORAGE_KEY_PREFIX.into_iter()

	who.using_encoded(|b| child::put(id.as_ref(), b, value_type));

The code in pallets/child-trie demonstrates a minimal way of organizing the basic child-trie api methods (as done in polkadot/runtime/crowdfund). It separates out the generation of the child trie id from the index with a runtime method id_from_index.

pub fn id_from_index(index: ObjectCount) -> Vec<u8> {
    let mut buf = Vec::new();


This results in less code for each method:

pub fn kv_put(index: ObjectCount, who: &T::AccountId, value_type: ValueType) {
    let id = Self::id_from_index(index);
    who.using_encoded(|b| child::put(id.as_ref(), b, &value_type));



Child tries are useful for batch deletion of (key, value) pairs associated with a specific trie_id. This is relevant to the polkadot/crowdfund pallet, which tracks (AccountId, BalanceOf<T>) associated with a specific crowdfund. BalanceOf<T> represents the contributions of an AccountId. The identifier for each crowdfund is defined

type FundIndex = u32

With these three types, this storage item effectively manages (FundIndex, AccountId, BalanceOf<T>). By maintaining a separate child for every FundIndex, this api allows for efficient batch deletions when crowdfunds are ended and dissolved.

// polkadot/runtime/crowdfund
pub fn crowdfund_kill(index: FundIndex) {
    let id = Self::id_from_index(index);

The child trie api is useful when data associated with an identifier needs to be isolated to facilitate efficient batch removal. In this case, all the information associated with a given crowdfund should be removed when the crowdfund is dissolved.

caveat coder

Each individual call to read/write to the child trie is more expensive than it would be for map or double_map. This cost is poorly amortized over a large number of calls, but can be significantly reduced by following a proper batch execution strategy.