A combination of programming, hardware and software interaction with users that creates data communications to connect computers to exchange information. Networks are a good way to share data between places seperated by great distance, eg the internet, NASA's Deep Space Network, etc.
Larger networks like electrical grids, or the telephone network, require maintainance and administration to remain robust. Networks usually require some sort of hardware setup or connection to another computer, eg ISP. Some networks have a backbone and need a login password for authentication.
There are many types of computer networks and protocols which control data flow. Most are based on a hierarchy of nodes or peers, which are processed according to a set of rules. There are also a number of theoretical laws regarding networks including Metcalfe's Law. A network can be self-seeding, ie, they can be used to upgrade or bootstrap themselves.
- LAN/WAN/NAN - Local, Wide, and Neighborhood Area Network(s)
- VNC - Virtual Network Connection
- VPN - Virtual Private Network
This type of network provides allow applications such as;
- Playing multi-player games
- Sharing internet connections (bandwidth)
- Transfering files, sharing printers, backup data, etc
Connecting multiple computers at home allows for shared internet connections and file sharing between computers. The setup process can be difficult for newbies but, once functional, can dramatically add value to a users computer experience.
Wireless networks have grown substainally over the last few years.
- WiFi or IEEE 802.11
- Ultra Wideband - in development / Fat Pipe
- Wimax or IEEE 802.16
- Internet Protocol
- MAC Address
- PPP - Point to Point Protocol