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Computer network

A computer network, or simply a network, is a collection of computers and other hardware interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information.[1] Where at least one process in one device is able to send/receive data to/from at least one process residing in a remote device, then the two devices are said to be in a network. A network is a group of devices connected to each other. Networks may be classified into a wide variety of characteristics, such as the medium used to transport the data, communications protocol used, scale, topology, benefit, and organizational scope. Communications protocols define the rules and data formats for exchanging information in a computer network, and provide the basis for network programming. Well-known communications protocols include two Ethernet, a hardware and link layer standard that is ubiquitous in local area networks, and the Internet protocol suite, which defines a set of protocols for internetworking, i.e. for data communication between multiple networks, as well as host-to-host data transfer, and application-specific data transmission formats. Computer networking is sometimes considered a sub-discipline of electrical engineering, telecommunications, computer science, information technology or computer engineering, since it relies upon the theoretical and practical application of these disciplines. A communications protocol is a system of digital message formats and rules for exchanging those messages in or between computing systems and in telecommunications. A protocol may have a formal description. Protocols may include signaling, authentication and error detection and correction capabilities. A protocol definition defines the syntax, semantics, and synchronization of communication; the specified behavior is typically independent of how it is to be implemented. A protocol can therefore be implemented as hardware or software or both. Communications protocols have to be agreed upon by the parties involved.[1] To reach agreement a protocol may be developed into a technical standard. Communicating systems use well-defined formats for exchanging messages. Ea h message has an exact meaning intended to provoke a defined response of the receiver. A protocol therefore describes the syntax, semantics, and synchronization of communication. A programming language describes the same for computations, so there is a close analogy between protocols and programming languages: protocols are to communications what programming languages are to computations. Networking hardware or networking equipment typically refers to devices facilitating the use of a computer network. Typically, this includes gateways, routers, network bridges, switches, hubs, and repeaters. Also, hybrid network devices such as multilayer switches, protocol converters, bridge routers, proxy servers, firewalls, network address translators, multiplexers, network interface controllers, wireless network interface controllers, modems, ISDN terminal adapters, line drivers, wireless access points, networking cables and other related hardware. Computer networking devices are units that mediate data in a computer network.[1][2] Computer networking devices are also called network equipment, Intermediate Systems (IS)[citation needed] or InterWorking Unit (IWU).[citation needed] Units which are the last receiver or generate data are called hosts or data terminal equipment.[citation needed] The most common kind of networking hardware today is copper-based Ethernet adapters, helped largely by its standard inclusion on most modern computer systems. Wireless networking has become increasingly popular, however, especially for portable and handheld devices. Other hardware prevalent within computer networking is datacenter equipment (such as file servers, database servers and storage areas), network services (such as DNS, DHCP, email etc.) as well as other specific network devices such as content delivery. Other diverse devices which may be considered networking hardware include mobile phones, PDAs and even modern coffee machines. As technology grows and IP-based networks are integrated into building infrastructure and household utilities, network hardware becomes an ambiguous statement owing to the increasing number of "network capable" endpoints.