is a formaldescription of message formats and the rules for exchanging those messages. Protocols may includesignaling,authenticationanderror detection and correctioncapabilities. In its simplest form, a protocolcan be defined as the rules governing thesyntax,semantics, and synchronization of communication.Protocols may be implemented by hardware, software, or a combination of the two. At the lowestlevel, a protocol defines the behaviour of a hardware connection.
The protocols in human communication are separate rules about appearance, speaking, listening andunderstanding. All these rules, also called
protocols of conversation
, represent different layers ofcommunication. They work together to help people successfully communicate. The need for protocolsalso applies to network devices. Computers have no way of learning protocols, so network engineershave written rules for communication that must be strictly followed for successful host-to-hostcommunication. These rules apply to different layers of sophistication such as which physicalconnections to use, how hosts listen, how to interrupt, how to say good-bye, and in short how tocommunicate, what language to use and many others. These rules, or protocols, that work together toensure successful communication are grouped into what is known as aprotocol suite.The widespread use and expansion of
is both a prerequisite for theInternet, and a major contributor to its power and success. The pair ofInternet Protocol(or IP) andTransmission Control Protocol(or TCP) are the most important of these, and the termTCP/IPrefersto a collection (a "protocol suite") of its most used protocols. Most of the Internet's communicationprotocols are described in theRFCdocuments of theInternet Engineering Task Force(or IETF).Object-oriented programminghas extended the use of the term to include theprogramming protocolsavailable for connections and communication between objects. Protocols fall into many levels ofprocesses and complexity.Generally, only the simplest protocols are used alone. Most protocols, especially in the context ofcommunications or networking, are layered together intoprotocol stackswhere the various taskslisted above are divided among different protocols in the stack.Whereas the protocol stack denotes a specific combination of protocols that work together, aReadEditView history
Communications protocol - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_protocol[8/31/2010 12:10:58 PM]
reference modelis asoftware architecturethat lists each layer and the services each should offer.The classic seven-layer reference model is theOSI model, which is used for conceptualizing protocolstacks and peer entities. This reference model also provides an opportunity to teach more generalsoftware engineeringconcepts like hiding, modularity, and delegation of tasks. This model hasendured in spite of the demise of many of its protocols (and protocol stacks) originally sanctioned bytheISO.
In general, protocol testers orprotocol analyzerswork by capturing the information exchangedbetween adevice under test(DUT) and a reference device known to operate properly. In theexample of a manufacturer producing a new keyboard for a personal computer, the DUT would bethe keyboard and the reference device, the PC. The information exchanged between the two devicesis governed by rules set out in a technical specification called a "communication protocol". Both thenature of the communication and the actual data exchanged are defined by the specification. Sincecommunication protocols are state-dependent (what should happen next depends on what previouslyhappened), specifications are complex and the documents describing them can be hundreds ofpages.The captured information is decoded from raw digital form into a human-readable format that permitsusers of the protocol tester to easily review the exchanged information. Protocol testers vary in theirabilities to display data in multiple views, automatically detect errors, determine the root causes oferrors, generate timing diagrams, etc.Some protocol testers can also generate traffic and thus act as the reference device. Such testersgenerate protocol-correct traffic for functional testing, and may also have the ability to deliberatelyintroduce errors to test for the DUT's ability to deal with error conditions.Protocol testing is an essential step towards commercialization of standards-based products. It helpsto ensure that products from different manufacturers will operate together properly ("interoperate") andso satisfy customer expectations.