Theory of Networks
This course is intended to give students a solid foundation in networking theory, including all those layers of abstraction that allow us to transform copper, glass, and radio waves into the economic engine of our age. We will use standard academic and professional texts, as well as freely available online resources to understand the ways in which computers talk to each other, across the room, and across the world.
- 1 Module I: The Network Stack
- 1.1 Lesson I: The Physical Layer
- 1.2 Lesson II: The Link Layer
- 1.3 Lesson III: The Network Layer
- 1.4 Lesson IV: The Transport Layer
- 1.5 Lesson V: The Session and Presentation Layers
- 1.6 Lesson VI: The Application Layer Part I
- 1.7 Lesson VII: The Application Layer Part II
- 1.8 Lesson VIII: The Stack
- 2 Module II: Internetworking
- 2.1 Lesson I: The Routed Network
- 2.2 Lesson II: Peering
- 2.3 Lesson III: Internet Exchange
- 2.4 Lesson IV: Transit
Module I: The Network Stack
In the technology world, a 'stack' is a set of mutually dependent technologies that enable an outcome. The Network Stack, famously described in the Open Systems Interconnection model, is the set of technologies that enables computers to talk to one another.
Lesson I: The Physical Layer
The physical layer transmits raw bits. In lesson one, we will examine the most popular transmission media in use in computer networks.
- WNDW Chapter 1: Physics
- WNDW Chapter 4: Radio Spectrum
- WNDW Chapter 5: Antennas/Transmission Lines
Lesson II: The Link Layer
The Link layer controls access to the physical layer, and allows the sharing of physical resources. We will examine Media Access Control technologies, focusing the Ethernet family of technologies.
- CCNA ICND pp. 33-39
- WNDW Chapter 7: Wifi Family
Lesson III: The Network Layer
The network layer is responsible for finding a path from point to point within a network. We will take a close look at Internet Protocol, the world's preeminent Layer 3 technology.
- CCNA ICND pp 29-33
Lesson IV: The Transport Layer
The Transport layer provides for end-to-end communication over a network layer link.. We will examine how Transmission Control Protocol and User Datagram Protocol make sure that the right bits end up where they need to be.
Lesson V: The Session and Presentation Layers
The Socket and Presentation layers allow for the initiation of communications, and coding of messages. We'll look at how advances in network technology have changed layers 5 and 6.
Lesson VI: The Application Layer Part I
The Application Layer presents useful functions to the end user, relying on all the layers beneath it to abstract away the complexity of communication. It is the layer we interact with, and the most diverse in its number of protocols and uses.
Lesson VII: The Application Layer Part II
The Application Layer isn't just what normal users interact with every day. It's also essential to keeping networks up and running. In Part II of our look at the Application Layer and its protocols, we'll look at some of the lesser known, but no less important Layer 7 tech.
Lesson VIII: The Stack
We'll wrap up our investigation of the stack, looking at the full picture of how communication happens on networks.
- WNDW Chapter 6: Networking
- CCNA ICND Chapter 2
Module II: Internetworking
So far, we've gotten a good idea of how computer networks work. That still doesn't explain how the Internet came to be, or how it functions. In the second module of the course, we'll look at what it means to connect networks to one another, and how it happens in the real world.
Lesson I: The Routed Network
We got some introduction to routing in Module I, but there's much more to routing than meets the eye. As the concepts of collisions and broadcasts go away, the concepts of hops and link state begin to emerge. We'll look at the various classes of routing protocol, and the role that routers play in various sorts of networks.
Lesson II: Peering
Routing between two autonomous computer networks is called 'peering', and it's at the core of what make the Internet tick. Who connects to whom, and on what terms determines every user of the Internet's experience.
Lesson III: Internet Exchange
Internet Exchanges are physical locations in which many autonomous systems meet, peer, and exchange traffic. They're everywhere, but rarely noticed by the public eye. We'll take a look inside an Internet Exchange, to see where the Internet really happens.
Lesson IV: Transit
Now that we know how information on the Internet can move between networks, it's time to look at how it gets all the way from point A to point B. Taking all the concepts we've learned into account, we'll investigate the paths to our favorite parts of the Internet.