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Computer networking is the scientific and engineering discipline concerned with communication between computer systems. Such networks involve at least two devices capable of being networked with at least one usually being a computer. The devices can be separated by a few meters (e.g. via Bluetooth) or thousands of kilometers (e.g. via the Internet). Computer networking is sometimes considered a sub-discipline of telecommunications.
Networking is the practice of enabling and harnessing the transmission of data from one computer system to another. A crude analogy of a data network is pictured at right. Two tin cans connected by a simple string. Note that what this basic analogy suggests holds true for actual implementations of data networks:
- The network exists merely as a medium for communications, of some kind, across it
- A protocol of some form is needed to initiate and carry on conversations (this is not intrinsic to the network itself)
- The same protocol (a spoken language) can also be used with different media for the same purpose; different networks have different advantages and uses
A network may require one engineer to design it, another engineer to build it, and another engineer entirely to administer it. The skills needed for each stage in the process are related but not necessarily dependent; hence, Networking is interdisciplinary. The distinction between Networking and Computer Science in general is difficult to precisely define; it is better perhaps to consider that Networking grew out of Computer Science, because of a need to extend the existing capabilities of a computer (which includes data transmission) across large distances and with other unlike systems. However, an extensive background in Computer Science is not necessary to study or even practice Networking. A Network Engineer is a qualified individual who works with networks of some form, but the scope of that work and the skills required may be as diverse - even from one job to the next - as those of any scientist.
Networking is the practice of enabling and harnessing the transmission of data from one computer system to another. The TCP/IP model is used in presenting the following topics.
- Introduction to Networking
- TCP/IP Fundamentals
- Application Layer
- Transport Layer
- Internet Layer
- Link Layer
- Local Area Networks
- Mobile Networks
- Network Security
- Network Administration
- Pursuing network certification
The alternative OSI layer can be studied here.
- Layer 7, the Application layer, provides service directly related to the applications. Those services vary on applications.
- Layer 6, the Presentation layer, format the data to look like common for all applications
- Layer 5, the Session Layer, establishes a connection between two nodes. Deals with whether the connection is full duplex, half duplex etc.
- Layer 4, Transport layer, handles and delivers data, whenever it is connection-oriented or connectionless. It includes some flow control issues.
- Layer 3, Network Layer, establishes the connection between two nodes, using the IP addressing.
- Layer 2, the Data Link Layer, frames data and provides low-level flow control
- Layer 1, Physical layer, transmits low bitstreams (data), deals with electrical signalling, cabling and hardware interface.
Each topic includes an outline, suggested activities and links to useful resources. They are constructed for self-study, but should be adaptable to a group environment.