What are the key characteristics of a Network Protocol? Why Protocol are needed?

Protocol is a set of rules that communicating entities must follow for orderly exchange of data.

Implementation of computer network is a complex task. Hence it is divided into number of layers. Suppose a layer n at source wants to communicate to a layer n at the destination, then there should be a standard mechanism so that both layers at same level should be able to talk to each other. The rules and conventions required for the communication are called as protocols. In general layered protocols must meet the following goals.

(a) Provide a logical decomposition of a complex network into smaller, more under-standable parts or layers.

(b) Provide symmetry in functions at each node in the network. Each layer performs the same functions as its counterpart in other nodes of the network.

(c) Provide a means to predict and control any changes made to network logic.

(d) Provide a standard language to clarify communication between network designers, manager and users.

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