Define Protocol and What are the Key Elements of Protocol

Define Protocol and What are the Key Elements of Protocol. In computer networks, communication occurs between entities in different systems. An entity is anything capable of sending or receiving information.

Key Elements of Protocol

Define Protocol and What are the Key Elements of Protocol

However, two entities cannot simply send bitstreams to each other and expect to be understood. For communication to occur, the entities must agree on a protocol.

Also Read: Explain the Layers of OSI/ISO Reference Model with Neat Diagram

Definition of Protocol


A protocol is a set of rules that govern data communications. It defines what is communicated, how it is communicated, and when it is communicated. The key elements of a protocol are syntax, semantics, and timing.

Key Elements of Protocol

  1. Syntax,
  2. Semantics, and
  3. Timing.

1. Syntax

The term syntax refers to the structure or format of the data, meaning the order in which they are presented.

For example, a simple protocol might expect the first 8 bits of data to be the address of the sender, the second 8 bits to be the address of the receiver, and the rest of the stream to be the message itself.

2. Semantics

The word semantics refers to the meaning of each section of bits. How is a particular pattern to be interpreted, and what action is to be taken based on that interpretation?

For example, does an address identify the route to be taken or the final destination of the message?

3. Timing

The term timing refers to two characteristics: when data should be sent and how fast they can be sent.

For example, if a sender produces data at 100 Mbps but the receiver can process data at only 1 Mbps, the transmission will overload the receiver and some data will be lost.

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