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Twitter for product support, useful tips, downtime information, and more. Each message has an exact meaning intended to elicit a response from a range of possible responses pre-determined for that particular situation. The specified behavior is typically independent of how it is to be implemented. Multiple protocols often describe different aspects of a single communication. The information exchanged between devices through a network, or other media is governed by rules and conventions that can be set out in communication protocol specifications.

The nature of a communication, the actual data exchanged and any state-dependent behaviors, is defined by these specifications. Operating systems usually contain a set of cooperating processes that manipulate shared data to communicate with each other. This communication is governed by well-understood protocols, which can be embedded in the process code itself. To implement a networking protocol, the protocol software modules are interfaced with a framework implemented on the machine’s operating system.

This framework implements the networking functionality of the operating system. At the time the Internet was developed, abstraction layering had proven to be a successful design approach for both compiler and operating system design and, given the similarities between programming languages and communication protocols, the originally monolithic networking programs were decomposed into cooperating protocols. Systems typically do not use a single protocol to handle a transmission. Instead they use a set of cooperating protocols, sometimes called a protocol suite. The protocols can be arranged based on functionality in groups, for instance there is a group of transport protocols. The functionalities are mapped onto the layers, each layer solving a distinct class of problems relating to, for instance: application-, transport-, internet- and network interface-functions.

Getting the data across a network is only part of the problem for a protocol. The data received has to be evaluated in the context of the progress of the conversation, a protocol therefore must include rules describing the context. These kind of rules are said to express the syntax of the communication. Other rules determine whether the data is meaningful for the context in which the exchange takes place.

Messages are sent and received on communicating systems to establish communication. Protocols should therefore specify rules governing the transmission. Data formats for data exchange Digital message bitstrings are exchanged. The bitstrings are divided in fields and each field carries information relevant to the protocol.

Conceptually the bitstring is divided into two parts called the header and the payload. The actual message is carried in the payload. The header area contains the fields with relevance to the operation of the protocol. The nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from. Despite their numbers, networking protocols show little variety, because all networking protocols use the same underlying principles and concepts, in the same way.

So, the use of a general purpose programming language would yield a large number of applications only differing in the details. Systems engineering principles have been applied to create a set of common network protocol design principles. An important aspect of concurrent programming is the synchronization of software for receiving and transmitting messages of communication in proper sequencing. The syntax and semantics of the communication governed by a low-level protocol usually have modest complexity. Concurrent programming has traditionally been a topic in operating systems theory texts.

Formal verification seems indispensable, because concurrent programs are notorious for the hidden and sophisticated bugs they contain. Design of complex protocols often involves decomposition into simpler, cooperating protocols. Such a set of cooperating protocols is sometimes called a protocol family or a protocol suite, within a conceptual framework. The literature presents numerous analogies between computer communication and programming. The framework introduces rules that allow the programmer to design cooperating protocols independently of one another. Protocols are to computer communication what programming languages are to computation.

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