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--- a/Documentation/technical/index-format.txt
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@@ -138,12 +138,33 @@ Git index format
=== Cache tree
- Cache tree extension contains pre-computed hashes for trees that can
- be derived from the index. It helps speed up tree object generation
- from index for a new commit.
-
- When a path is updated in index, the path must be invalidated and
- removed from tree cache.
+ Since the index does not record entries for directories, the cache
+ entries cannot describe tree objects that already exist in the object
+ database for regions of the index that are unchanged from an existing
+ commit. The cache tree extension stores a recursive tree structure that
+ describes the trees that already exist and completely match sections of
+ the cache entries. This speeds up tree object generation from the index
+ for a new commit by only computing the trees that are "new" to that
+ commit. It also assists when comparing the index to another tree, such
+ as `HEAD^{tree}`, since sections of the index can be skipped when a tree
+ comparison demonstrates equality.
+
+ The recursive tree structure uses nodes that store a number of cache
+ entries, a list of subnodes, and an object ID (OID). The OID references
+ the existing tree for that node, if it is known to exist. The subnodes
+ correspond to subdirectories that themselves have cache tree nodes. The
+ number of cache entries corresponds to the number of cache entries in
+ the index that describe paths within that tree's directory.
+
+ The extension tracks the full directory structure in the cache tree
+ extension, but this is generally smaller than the full cache entry list.
+
+ When a path is updated in index, Git invalidates all nodes of the
+ recursive cache tree corresponding to the parent directories of that
+ path. We store these tree nodes as being "invalid" by using "-1" as the
+ number of cache entries. Invalid nodes still store a span of index
+ entries, allowing Git to focus its efforts when reconstructing a full
+ cache tree.
The signature for this extension is { 'T', 'R', 'E', 'E' }.