Deterministic Corda Modules

A Corda contract’s verify function should always produce the same results for the same input data. To that end, Corda provides the following modules:

  1. core-deterministic
  2. serialization-deterministic
  3. jdk8u-deterministic

These are reduced version of Corda’s core and serialization modules and the OpenJDK 8 rt.jar, where the non-deterministic functionality has been removed. The intention here is that all CorDapp classes required for contract verification should be compiled against these modules to prevent them containing non-deterministic behaviour.


These modules are only a development aid. They cannot guarantee determinism without also including deterministic versions of all their dependent libraries, e.g. kotlin-stdlib.

Generating the Deterministic Modules


jdk8u-deterministic is a “pseudo JDK” image that we can point the Java and Kotlin compilers to. It downloads the rt.jar containing a deterministic subset of the Java 8 APIs from the Artifactory.

To build a new version of this JAR and upload it to the Artifactory, see the create-jdk8u module. This is a standalone Gradle project within the Corda repository that will clone the deterministic-jvm8 branch of Corda’s OpenJDK repository and then build it. (This currently requires a C++ compiler, GNU Make and a UNIX-like development environment.)

Corda Modules
core-deterministic and serialization-deterministic are generated from Corda’s core and serialization modules respectively using both ProGuard and Corda’s JarFilter Gradle plugin. Corda developers configure these tools by applying Corda’s @KeepForDJVM and @DeleteForDJVM annotations to elements of core and serialization as described here.

The build generates each of Corda’s deterministic JARs in six steps:

  1. Some very few classes in the original JAR must be replaced completely. This is typically because the original class uses something like ThreadLocal, which is not available in the deterministic Java APIs, and yet the class is still required by the deterministic JAR. We must keep such classes to a minimum!

  2. The patched JAR is analysed by ProGuard for the first time using the following rule:

    keep '@interface net.corda.core.KeepForDJVM { *; }'

    ProGuard works by calculating how much code is reachable from given “entry points”, and in our case these entry points are the @KeepForDJVM classes. The unreachable classes are then discarded by ProGuard’s shrink option.

  3. The remaining classes may still contain non-deterministic code. However, there is no way of writing a ProGuard rule explicitly to discard anything. Consider the following class:

    data class UniqueIdentifier @JvmOverloads @DeleteForDJVM constructor(
        val externalId: String? = null,
        val id: UUID = UUID.randomUUID()
    ) : Comparable<UniqueIdentifier> {

    While CorDapps will definitely need to handle UniqueIdentifier objects, all of the secondary constructors generate a new random UUID and so are non-deterministic. Hence the next “determinising” step is to pass the classes to the JarFilter tool, which strips out all of the elements which have been annotated as @DeleteForDJVM and stubs out any functions annotated with @StubOutForDJVM. (Stub functions that return a value will throw UnsupportedOperationException, whereas void or Unit stubs will do nothing.)

  4. After the @DeleteForDJVM elements have been filtered out, the classes are rescanned using ProGuard to remove any more code that has now become unreachable.

  5. The remaining classes define our deterministic subset. However, the @kotlin.Metadata annotations on the compiled Kotlin classes still contain references to all of the functions and properties that ProGuard has deleted. Therefore we now use the JarFilter to delete these references, as otherwise the Kotlin compiler will pretend that the deleted functions and properties are still present.

  6. Finally, we use ProGuard again to validate our JAR against the deterministic rt.jar:

    task checkDeterminism(type: ProGuardTask, dependsOn: jdkTask) {
        injars metafix
        libraryjars deterministic_rt_jar
        configurations.deterministicLibraries.forEach {
            libraryjars it, filter: '!META-INF/versions/**'
        keepattributes '*'
        keep 'class *'

    This step will fail if ProGuard spots any Java API references that still cannot be satisfied by the deterministic rt.jar, and hence it will break the build.

Configuring IntelliJ with a Deterministic SDK

We would like to configure IntelliJ so that it will highlight uses of non-deterministic Java APIs as not found. Or, more specifically, we would like IntelliJ to use the deterministic-rt.jar as a “Module SDK” for deterministic modules rather than the rt.jar from the default project SDK, to make IntelliJ consistent with Gradle.

This is possible, but slightly tricky to configure because IntelliJ will not recognise an SDK containing only the deterministic-rt.jar as being valid. It also requires that IntelliJ delegate all build tasks to Gradle, and that Gradle be configured to use the Project’s SDK.

Creating the Deterministic SDK

Gradle creates a suitable JDK image in the project’s jdk8u-deterministic/jdk directory, and you can configure IntelliJ to use this location for this SDK. However, you should also be aware that IntelliJ SDKs are available for all projects to use.

To create this JDK image, execute the following:

$ gradlew jdk8u-deterministic:copyJdk

Now select File/Project Structure/Platform Settings/SDKs and add a new JDK SDK with the jdk8u-deterministic/jdk directory as its home. Rename this SDK to something like “1.8 (Deterministic)”.

This should be sufficient for IntelliJ. However, if IntelliJ realises that this SDK does not contain a full JDK then you will need to configure the new SDK by hand:

  1. Create a JDK Home directory with the following contents:


    where rt.jar here is this renamed artifact:

  2. While IntelliJ is not running, locate the config/options/jdk.table.xml file in IntelliJ’s configuration directory. Add an empty <jdk> section to this file:

    <jdk version="2">
        <name value="1.8 (Deterministic)"/>
        <type value="JavaSDK"/>
        <version value="java version &quot;1.8.0&quot;"/>
        <homePath value=".. path to the deterministic JDK directory .."/>
  3. Open IntelliJ and select File/Project Structure/Platform Settings/SDKs. The “1.8 (Deterministic)” SDK should now be present. Select it and then click on the Classpath tab. Press the “Add” / “Plus” button to add rt.jar to the SDK’s classpath. Then select the Annotations tab and include the same JAR(s) as the other SDKs.

Configuring the Corda Project
  1. Open the root build.gradle file and define this property:

    buildscript {
        ext {
            deterministic_idea_sdk = '1.8 (Deterministic)'
Configuring IntelliJ
  1. Go to File/Settings/Build, Execution, Deployment/Build Tools/Gradle, and configure Gradle’s JVM to be the project’s JVM.

  2. Go to File/Settings/Build, Execution, Deployment/Build Tools/Gradle/Runner, and select these options:

    • Delegate IDE build/run action to Gradle
    • Run tests using the Gradle Test Runner
  3. Delete all of the out directories that IntelliJ has previously generated for each module.

  4. Go to View/Tool Windows/Gradle and click the Refresh all Gradle projects button.

These steps will enable IntelliJ’s presentation compiler to use the deterministic rt.jar with the following modules:

  • core-deterministic
  • serialization-deterministic
  • core-deterministic:testing:common

but still build everything using Gradle with the full JDK.

Testing the Deterministic Modules

The core-deterministic:testing module executes some basic JUnit tests for the core-deterministic and serialization-deterministic JARs. These tests are compiled against the deterministic rt.jar, although they are still executed using the full JDK.

The testing module also has two sub-modules:

This module generates test data such as serialised transactions and elliptic curve key pairs using the full non-deterministic core library and JDK. This data is all written into a single JAR which the testing module adds to its classpath.
This module provides the test classes which the testing and data modules need to share. It is therefore compiled against the deterministic API subset.

Applying @KeepForDJVM and @DeleteForDJVM annotations

Corda developers need to understand how to annotate classes in the core and serialization modules correctly in order to maintain the deterministic JARs.


Every Kotlin class still has its own .class file, even when all of those classes share the same source file. Also, annotating the file:

package net.corda.core.internal

does not automatically annotate any class declared within this file. It merely annotates any accompanying Kotlin xxxKt class.

For more information about how JarFilter is processing the byte-code inside core and serialization, use Gradle’s --info or --debug command-line options.

Deterministic Classes

Classes that must be included in the deterministic JAR should be annotated as @KeepForDJVM.

@Target(FILE, CLASS)
annotation class KeepForDJVM

To preserve any Kotlin functions, properties or type aliases that have been declared outside of a class, you should annotate the source file’s package declaration instead:

package net.corda.core.internal

infix fun Temporal.until(endExclusive: Temporal): Duration = Duration.between(this, endExclusive)
Non-Deterministic Elements

Elements that must be deleted from classes in the deterministic JAR should be annotated as @DeleteForDJVM.

annotation class DeleteForDJVM

You must also ensure that a deterministic class’s primary constructor does not reference any classes that are not available in the deterministic rt.jar. The biggest risk here would be that JarFilter would delete the primary constructor and that the class could no longer be instantiated, although JarFilter will print a warning in this case. However, it is also likely that the “determinised” class would have a different serialisation signature than its non-deterministic version and so become unserialisable on the deterministic JVM.

Primary constructors that have non-deterministic default parameter values must still be annotated as @DeleteForDJVM because they cannot be refactored without breaking Corda’s binary interface. The Kotlin compiler will automatically apply this @DeleteForDJVM annotation - along with any others - to all of the class’s secondary constructors too. The JarFilter plugin can then remove the @DeleteForDJVM annotation from the primary constructor so that it can subsequently delete only the secondary constructors.

The annotations that JarFilter will “sanitise” from primary constructors in this way are listed in the plugin’s configuration block, e.g.

task jarFilter(type: JarFilterTask) {
    annotations {

        forSanitise = [

Be aware that package-scoped Kotlin properties are all initialised within a common <clinit> block inside their host .class file. This means that when JarFilter deletes these properties, it cannot also remove their initialisation code. For example:

package net.corda.core

val map: MutableMap<String, String> = ConcurrentHashMap()

In this case, JarFilter would delete the map property but the <clinit> block would still create an instance of ConcurrentHashMap. The solution here is to refactor the property into its own file and then annotate the file itself as @DeleteForDJVM instead.

Non-Deterministic Function Stubs

Sometimes it is impossible to delete a function entirely. Or a function may have some non-deterministic code embedded inside it that cannot be removed. For these rare cases, there is the @StubOutForDJVM annotation:

annotation class StubOutForDJVM

This annotation instructs JarFilter to replace the function’s body with either an empty body (for functions that return void or Unit) or one that throws UnsupportedOperationException. For example:

fun necessaryCode() {

private fun nonDeterministicOperations() {
    // etc