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TCP Operational Overview and the TCP Finite State Machine (FSM)
(Page 1 of 3)
It is essential that all devices
that implement any networking protocol do so in a consistent manner.
Otherwise, one device might behave in a manner the other wouldn't expect.
Naturally, this is why there are standards that describe the operation
of each protocol. The problem with a protocol like TCP is that it performs
so many tasks that it is difficult to specify the exact operation of
all aspects of the protocol succinctly.
Using A Finite State Machine to Explain Complex Protocols
One way that computer scientists
explain how a complex protocol works is through a theoretical tool called
a finite state machine (FSM). An FSM attempts to describe a protocol
or algorithm by considering it like a virtual machine that
progresses through a series of stages of operation in response to various
happenings. You need to understand four essential concepts to comprehend
the workings of a finite state machine:
- State: The particular circumstance
or status that describes the protocol software on a machine
at a given time.
- Transition: The act of moving from one
state to another.
- Event: Something that causes a transition
to occur between states.
- Action: Something a device does in response
to an event before it transitions to another state.
A FSM describes the protocol by explaining
all the different states the protocol can be in, the events that can
occur in each state, what actions are taken in response to the events
and what transitions happen as a result.The protocol usually starts
in a particular beginning state when it is first run. It then
follows a sequence of steps to get it into a regular operating state,
and moves to other states in response to particular types of input or
other circumstances. The state machine is called finite because
there are only a limited number of states.
Key Concept: A tool used by many computer scientists to describe the operation of a protocol or algorithm is the finite state machine. It describes the different actions taken by a piece of software over time by defining a finite number of operating states, events that can cause transitions between states, and actions taken in response to events.
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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