Network of Autonomous Systems

In the introduction to this chapter we looked at the different devices and services that may connect you to this ebook. But how do all of these connections work together to connect you to the site that want to get to? How does your internet browser know what server to access a website from? How is data transferred over the internet and how does it know where to go? What has allowed the Internet to connect people from all around the globe? In this section we will attempt to answer these questions.

Communication between connections on the Internet are governed by rules known as protocols, or formal standards for transmitting information. In real life, the protocol for asking a favor of your best friend might be to say “Please” when beginning a request and “Thank you” after your friend has done that favor. If you asked your friend the same thing in Spanish, it would be difficult to communicate properly with that friend if he doesn’t speak Spanish.

Protocols on the Internet work the same way. In order for every system to communicate with each other, every computer on the internet has agreed to communicate using the exact same protocols. Protocols outside of these predefined rules aren’t understood unless everyone on the Internet decides to recognize them.

One of the foundations of the Internet Protocol systems is the IP address, or Internet Protocol Address. This is like a street address for your home or school, except, on the Internet, every computer has a unique IP address that only that computer can have. If you search “ip address” on google or a similar search engine, the IP address for the computer you are using right now will likely show up as the first result. very computer on the internet uses your IP address to name your computer.

Note

Discuss topics in this section with classmates.

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