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Glossary of terminology in alphabetical order.


Agent is any entity that possesses agency. That is the motivation and will to act. This can be a real person, or a software agent.


The process of establishing a cryptolink between a Keynode and digital identity, making a claim of ownership of the Keynode over the digital identity, and of the agent who is represented by the digital identity over the Keynode.


The ability to check that the source of origin of a piece of data is correct.

A statement of a Keynode's ownership over a digital identity, or its relatedness to another Keynode.

Digital identity

Digital information that can be used to represent a physical agent or entity. In the case of Polykey, digital identities are social media accounts existing on providers such as GitHub, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


The process of systematically finding other Polykey users, represented by their Gestalts, as well as the components of the Gestalt.


The representation of an agent within Polykey. They combine identity information from digital identities with Polykey Keynodes.


Information about a specific agent, as well as its attributes, that uniquely distinguishes it from other agents within a particular context.

Identity Proof

The claim existing on both a Keynode's Sigchain and on a digital identity as proof of the existence of an augmentation between them.


The ability to check that a piece of data had not been mutated since its creation.


Distributed nodes living on a user's computing device, identified by their own public and private key pair. Keynodes store and manage Vaults.


A point of communication between two entities. For example, a digital identity is a point-of-presence between two agents, usually human, at which information pertaining to identity can be exchanged.


A resource is any digital object that can be interacted with. Usually a resource is protected by authentication and authorization policies. It can be a document, a service, or a device.


A chain of signed statements stored on a Keynode, documenting the claims it has made over digital identities and other Keynodes.


Any kind of data that that should only be known by selected agents. The 4 common types of secret data are:

  • Tokens - Any randomly generated string of data, e.g. sdifjsd8943
  • Passwords - Any human provided string of data, e.g. my-secret-password123!
  • Keys - Asymmetric public and private keypair, e.g. RSA and Ed25519 keypairs
  • Certificates - A keypair that is combined with additional metadata (such as datetime) and signed by other relevant keypairs, e.g. X.509 certificates

Additionally there may also be larger pieces of data that may be considered secret. These include documents, source code, intellectual property, emails... etc.

Some secrets have intrinsic value, that is the secret data is what is valuable. Other secrets have extrinsic value, which means the value lies in what the secret protects, but not the secret data itself.

In Polykey, we consider secrets that have extrinsic value, the currency of access control when working with decentralized services, resources and devices.

Social Discovery

A form of discovery by which Gestalts are discovered through digital identities, rather than from within Polykey.


The base file structure used within Polykey to store secrets. Each Vault makes use of an encrypted file system to manage and share the secrets it contains.