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Basic Network Glossary

a rope made of wires, sheathed in insulating plastic or rubber, used for transmitting data between a computer and its peripherals, or between nodes on a network
a computer program which requests data, using a specific data protocol, from a server; the client and the server may be on the same computer, or on different computers connected via a network
client-server paradigm
a way of thinking about the relationship between network nodes which request and provide services
client-server protocols (examples)
  • e-mail transmission: SMTP (Simple Mail Transmission Protocol)
  • e-mail retrieval: POP (Post-Office Protocol)
  • file transmission: FTP (File Transmission Protocol)
  • gopher
  • hypertext: HTTP (Hyper-Text Transmission Protocol)
  • newsgroup: NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocol)
  • see also protocol
e-mail (electronic mail)
messages distributed electronically to and from recipients on a computer network; see also POP, SMTP
the most widely used cabled LAN technology, developed by Robert Metcalfe at Xerox PARC in 1973
“The extension of a company’s intranet out onto the Internet, e.g. to allow selected customers, suppliers, and mobile workers to access the company’s private data and applications via the World-Wide Web. This is in contrast to, and usually in addition to, the company’s public website which is accessible to everyone. The difference can be somewhat blurred but generally an extranet implies real-time access through a firewall of some kind.” (extranet from FOLDOC. Retrieved 2012-06-13 from <>.)
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
“a client-server protocol which allows a user on one computer to transfer files to and from another computer over a TCP/IP network” (File Transfer Protocol from FOLDOC. Retrieved 2012-06-13 from <>.)
HTTP (Hyper-Text Transmission Protocol)
“the client-server TCP/IP protocol used on the World-Wide Web for the exchange of HTML documents.” (Hypertext Transmission Protocol from FOLDOC. Retrieved 2012-06-13 from <>.)
a multi-port device on a network which is used to connect segments of a LAN; packets which arrive at the hub are copied to all of the other ports so that every LAN segment can see every packet; switching hubs read the address of the destination of each packet and “switch” that packet only towards the port which leads to the destination
plain-text documents which have embedded links to resources within and without the document; these resources may themselves be plain text, sounds, images, data, programs, or yet other types of resources
instant messaging
a type of network communication which allows a person at one computer to see in real time (usually within milliseconds) the text being typed by a person at another computer, and vice versa
a network of computer networks which may be public or private and which may use any data protocol; the best known and largest example is the Internet
the world’s largest public internet using TCP/IP; in 2008, Google had identified 1 trillion unique Internet URLs
a private network, internal to an organization, which uses TCP/IP; an intranet may have a connection to the Internet in order to allow members of the organization to access the intranet while away from the organization, or to provide people within the organization with access to the public network
LAN (Local Area Network)
a network whose scope is limited to nodes which are relatively close together, such as those in a home, school, or office, and which are directly connected by cables or microwave transmission; see also WAN
a modulator-demodulator which allows data communication between digital and analogue devices; outgoing digital signals from a computer are modulated and incoming analogue signals (from a telephone line, for example) are demodulated
a collection of two or more nodes which exchange data electronically; may be public or private; may use any data protocol
NIC (network interface card)
“… a computer circuit board or card that is installed in a computer so that it can be connected to a network. Personal computers and workstations on a LAN typically contain a network interface card designed for a specific LAN transmission technology such as Ethernet. Network interface cards provide a dedicated full-time connection to a network.” (What is network interface card (NIC)?—Definition from Retrieved 2012-06-13 from <>.)
a device which can be reached over a network via its unique address; ex: a computer, a printer, a light switch
a small collection of data which forms part of a larger item such as a webpage, an e-mail message, or a video; each packet consists of the sender’s network address, the recipient’s network address, the number of packets the larger item has been broken into, and the number of the packet in question; the packet is constructed according to the protocol used for data transmission, and this same protocol is used by the recipient to reassemble all of the packets in the correct sequence in order to recreate the original larger item
POP (Post-Office Protocol)
“a protocol designed to allow single-user computers to retrieve electronic mail from a POP server via TCP/IP” (Post Office Protocol from FOLDOC. Retrieved 2012-06-13 from <>.)
protocol (data protocol)
an agreed method for exchanging data; ex:
a device which is used to forward packets from one network to another, such as from one LAN to another, from a LAN to a WAN, or from a LAN to an Internet service provider (ISP)
a computer program which serves data, using a specific data protocol, in response to a request from a computer program called a client; the server and the client may be on the same computer, or on different computers; if a computer is used only to run the server program, we sometimes refer to that computer as the server (but strictly speaking, a server is a program)
SMTP (Simple Mail Transmission Protocol)
a server-to-server protocol for transmitting electronic-mail (e-mail) messages; see also POP
streaming media
audio or video which is compressed and then transmitted over the Internet using a protocol which allows the receiving client to begin playing before the entire transmission has been received; many media organizations such as CBC Radio and Television and TVO, and general-entertainment sites such a YouTube, “live-stream” audio and video content
TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol over Internet Protocol)
“TCP/IP is a two-layer [protocol]. The higher layer, Transmission Control Protocol, manages the assembling of a message or file into smaller packets that are transmitted over the Internet and received by a TCP layer that reassembles the packets into the original message. The lower layer, Internet Protocol, handles the address part of each packet so that it gets to the right destination. Each gateway computer on the network checks this address to see where to forward the message. Even though some packets from the same message are routed differently than others, they'll be reassembled at the destination. (What is TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol)?—Definition from Retrieved 2012-06-13 from <>.)
“communication over a distance by cable, telegraph, telephone, or broadcasting” (New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd Edition [electronic version 2.0.3], 2007)
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)
“a category of hardware and software that enables people to use the Internet as the transmission medium for telephone calls by sending voice data in packets using IP rather than by traditional circuit transmissions of the PSTN. One advantage of VoIP is that the telephone calls over the Internet do not incur a surcharge beyond what the user is paying for Internet access, much in the same way that the user doesn't pay for sending individual e-mails over the Internet. (What is VoIP?—A Word Definition From the Webopedia Computer Dictionary. Retrieved 2012-06-13 from <>.)
a network whose scope is beyond that of a LAN and which crosses metropolitan, regional, or national boundaries; nodes on a WAN may communicate via private or public networks such as the Internet
WWW (World-Wide Web)
the name given to the conceptual network of servers which serve hypertext documents in response to client requests; the WWW was invented by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in 1989 > Education Commons

[This page last updated 2020-12-23 at 12h45 Toronto local time.]