I was studying about Public Key Infrastructure. Here I have a table of issuer and subject, Which looks something like this: enter image description here

Now I am stuck at a place. I need to draw full PKI hierarchies as trees where I want the entities should be represented as nodes and the certificates as directed edges (arrows).

I am just confused that will the issuer will be on the top or the subject and will CA be the root node?

Thanks for any inputs.

1 Answer 1


The self signed ones are the root nodes, which are generally drawn on top (i.e. the tree or trees are bottom up). You can distinguish them by looking at entries where the subject is also the issuer (J and K, in other words).

After that you simply draw edges from the root nodes to the underlying nodes. So in the end you should have a branch or chain going downwards from J to S and from S to M, and finally from M to E.

F and N don't seem to have been signed by any entity, which probably means they just form partial trees. In principle it is possible to use a trusted public key instead of a certificate. Generally public keys / certificates should be signed by some entity though.

  • So does that mean there will be 2 trees? One that you mentioned and the other K-C? And other nodes like Q will be unused?
    – Jishan
    Jul 25, 2016 at 1:22
  • 1
    Yes, two trees, and there is a path J - O - Q - G if I'm not mistaken. Jul 25, 2016 at 1:23

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