Canonical Form for Binary Syntax

When two Values are written down in canonical form, comparing their syntax for equivalence gives the same result as comparing them semantically according to the equivalence defined in the Preserves specification.1

That is, canonical forms are equal if and only if the encoded Values are equal.

This document specifies canonical form for the Preserves machine-oriented binary syntax.

Annotations. Annotations MUST NOT be present.

Sets. The elements of a Set MUST be serialized sorted in ascending order by comparing their canonical encoded binary representations.

Dictionaries. The key-value pairs in a Dictionary MUST be serialized sorted in ascending order by comparing the canonical encoded binary representations of their keys.2

Other kinds of Value. There are no special canonicalization restrictions on SignedIntegers, Strings, ByteStrings, Symbols, Booleans, Floats, Doubles, Records, Sequences, or Embeddeds. The constraints given for these Values in the specification suffice to ensure canonicity.


  1. However, canonical form does not induce a match between lexicographic ordering on syntax and semantic ordering as specified. It only induces a connection between equivalences. 

  2. There is no need to order by (key, value) pair, since a Dictionary has no duplicate keys.