A protocol is, in its simplest form, a set of instructions which allows two systems communicate. Protocols are designed for universality; that is to say, even if the two systems in question are highly dissimilar, they should be able to successfully communicate by way of a protocol.
A high level of coordination is required for the exchange of information between computers or networks. This is provided by a set of rules of information exchange that must be adhered to by all computers on the network. This set of rules is called a protocol.
Protocols provide a standard in a computer network which enables two computers in a network to efficiently exchange information.
A simple analogy of protocols working in a computer environment is the case of two people communicating on a wireless set.
In this case it is required for each person to say "over" each time his or her part of the conversation is complete. This is a protocol adopted by the two people to avoid undesirable situations like, one person trying to interrupt the other, or one person waiting for
the other to finish his or her part of the conversation.
The entire process of transmitting data over the network can be divided into discrete clearly defined steps . Each step has its own rules and procedures.
We use protocols every day, without ever going near a computer. For example, applying for a job (first, provide a résumé; next, fill out an application; next, have an interview; etc...) is a type of protocol. We reasonably expect that regardless which job we are applying for, a résumé, an application, and an interview will be a part of the communications process between ourselves and the company to which we are applying.
Between computer systems, it is very similar. When one computer sends information to another (over the Internet, for example), each computer reasonably expects that the information will be organized and structured in a certain way so that, regardless what kind of machine is sending the information, and regardless what kind of machine is receiving the information, they will be able to communicate successfully.
A list of some of the most commonly used protocols follows:
- Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
- Post Office Protocol (POP)
- Standard Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
- News Network Transfer Protocol (NNTP)
- Transfer Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)
last edited (December 15, 2004) by dennrocker
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