Node (networking)
In communication networks, a node (Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 nodus, ‘knot’) is a connection point, either a redistribution point or a communication endpoint
Communication endpoint
A communication endpoint is an interface exposed by a communicating party or by a communication channel. An example of the latter type of a communication endpoint is a publish-subscribe topic or a group in group communication systems....

 (some terminal
Terminal (telecommunication)
In the context of telecommunications, a terminal is a device which is capable of communicating over a line. Examples of terminals are telephones, fax machines, and network devices - printers and workstations....

 equipment). The definition of a node depends on the network and protocol layer referred to. A physical network node is an active electronic device that is attached to a network, and is capable of sending, receiving, or forwarding information over a communications channel. A passive distribution point such as a distribution frame
Distribution frame
In telecommunications, a distribution frame is a passive device which terminates cables, allowing arbitrary interconnections to be made.For example, the Main Distribution Frame located at a telephone central office terminates the cables leading to subscribers on the one hand, and cables leading to...

 or patch panel
Patch panel
A patch panel or patch bay is a panel, typically rackmounted, that houses cable connections. One typically shorter patch cable will plug into the front side, whereas the back holds the connection of a much longer and more permanent cable...

 is consequently not a node.

In network theory
Network theory
Network theory is an area of computer science and network science and part of graph theory. It has application in many disciplines including statistical physics, particle physics, computer science, biology, economics, operations research, and sociology...

 or graph theory
Graph theory
In mathematics and computer science, graph theory is the study of graphs, mathematical structures used to model pairwise relations between objects from a certain collection. A "graph" in this context refers to a collection of vertices or 'nodes' and a collection of edges that connect pairs of...

, the term node refers to a point in a network topology
Network topology
Network topology is the layout pattern of interconnections of the various elements of a computer or biological network....

 at which lines intersect
Intersection (set theory)
In mathematics, the intersection of two sets A and B is the set that contains all elements of A that also belong to B , but no other elements....

 or branch
Tree (set theory)
In set theory, a tree is a partially ordered set In set theory, a tree is a partially ordered set (poset) In set theory, a tree is a partially ordered set (poset) (T, In set theory, a tree is a partially ordered set (poset) (T, ...


Computer network nodes

In data communication, a physical network node may either be a data circuit-terminating equipment
Data circuit-terminating equipment
A data circuit-terminating equipment is a device that sits between the data terminal equipment and a data transmission circuit. It is also called data communications equipment and data carrier equipment...

 (DCE) such as a modem
A modem is a device that modulates an analog carrier signal to encode digital information, and also demodulates such a carrier signal to decode the transmitted information. The goal is to produce a signal that can be transmitted easily and decoded to reproduce the original digital data...

, hub, bridge or switch
Network switch
A network switch or switching hub is a computer networking device that connects network segments.The term commonly refers to a multi-port network bridge that processes and routes data at the data link layer of the OSI model...

; or a data terminal equipment
Data terminal equipment
Data Terminal Equipment is an end instrument that converts user information into signals or reconverts received signals. These can also be called tail circuits. A DTE device communicates with the data circuit-terminating equipment...

 (DTE) such as a digital telephone handset, a printer or a host computer, for example a router, a workstation or a server.

If the network in question is a LAN
Local area network
A local area network is a computer network that interconnects computers in a limited area such as a home, school, computer laboratory, or office building...

 or WAN
Wide area network
A wide area network is a telecommunication network that covers a broad area . Business and government entities utilize WANs to relay data among employees, clients, buyers, and suppliers from various geographical locations...

, every LAN or WAN node (that are at least data link layer
Data link layer
The data link layer is layer 2 of the seven-layer OSI model of computer networking. It corresponds to, or is part of the link layer of the TCP/IP reference model....

 devices) must have a MAC address
MAC address
A Media Access Control address is a unique identifier assigned to network interfaces for communications on the physical network segment. MAC addresses are used for numerous network technologies and most IEEE 802 network technologies, including Ethernet...

, typically one for each network interface controller it possesses. Examples are computers, packet switches, xDSL modems (with Ethernet interface) and wireless LAN access points. Note that a hub constitutes a physical network node, but does not constitute a LAN network node, since a hubbed network logically is a bus network
Bus network
A bus network topology is a network architecture in which a set of clients are connected via a shared communications line, called a bus. There are several common instances of the bus architecture, including one in the motherboard of most computers, and those in some versions of Ethernet...

. Analogously, a repeater or PSTN modem (with serial interface) is a physical network node but not a LAN node in this sense.

If the network in question is the Internet or an Intranet, many physical network nodes are host computers
Host (network)
A network host is a computer connected to a computer network. A network host may offer information resources, services, and applications to users or other nodes on the network. A network host is a network node that is assigned a network layer host address....

, also known as Internet nodes, identified by an IP address, and all hosts are physical network nodes. However, some datalink layer devices such as switches, bridges and WLAN
Wireless LAN
A wireless local area network links two or more devices using some wireless distribution method , and usually providing a connection through an access point to the wider internet. This gives users the mobility to move around within a local coverage area and still be connected to the network...

 access point
Wireless access point
In computer networking, a wireless access point is a device that allows wireless devices to connect to a wired network using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or related standards...

s do not have an IP host address (except sometimes for administrative purposes), and are not considered as Internet nodes or hosts, but as physical network nodes and LAN nodes.

Telecommunication network nodes

In the fixed telephone network, a node may be a public or private telephone exchange
Telephone exchange
In the field of telecommunications, a telephone exchange or telephone switch is a system of electronic components that connects telephone calls...

, a remote concentrator
Remote concentrator
In modern telephony a remote concentrator, Remote Concentrator Unit , or Remote Line Concentrator is the lowest level in the telephone switch hierarchy.Subscribers' analogue telephone/PSTN lines are terminated on concentrators...

 or a computer providing some intelligent network service. In cellular communication, switching points and databases such as the Base station controller, Home Location Register, Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN) and Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN) are examples of nodes. Cellular network base station
Base station
The term base station can be used in the context of land surveying and wireless communications.- Land surveying :In the context of external land surveying, a base station is a GPS receiver at an accurately-known fixed location which is used to derive correction information for nearby portable GPS...

s are not considered as nodes in this context.

In cable television
Cable television
Cable television is a system of providing television programs to consumers via radio frequency signals transmitted to televisions through coaxial cables or digital light pulses through fixed optical fibers located on the subscriber's property, much like the over-the-air method used in traditional...

 systems (CATV), this term has assumed a broader context and is generally associated with a fiber optic
Fiber-optic communication
Fiber-optic communication is a method of transmitting information from one place to another by sending pulses of light through an optical fiber. The light forms an electromagnetic carrier wave that is modulated to carry information...

 node. This can be defined as those homes or businesses within a specific geographic area that are served from a common fiber optic receiver
Receiver (Information Theory)
The receiver in information theory is the receiving end of a communication channel. It receives decoded messages/information from the sender, who first encoded them. Sometimes the receiver is modeled so as to include the decoder. Real-world receivers like radio receivers or telephones can not be...

. A fiber optic node is generally described in terms of the number of "homes passed" that are served by that specific fiber node.

Distributed system nodes

If the network in question is a distributed system, the nodes are clients
Client (computing)
A client is an application or system that accesses a service made available by a server. The server is often on another computer system, in which case the client accesses the service by way of a network....

, servers
Server (computing)
In the context of client-server architecture, a server is a computer program running to serve the requests of other programs, the "clients". Thus, the "server" performs some computational task on behalf of "clients"...

 or peers. A peer may sometimes serve as client, sometimes server. In a peer-to-peer
Peer-to-peer computing or networking is a distributed application architecture that partitions tasks or workloads among peers. Peers are equally privileged, equipotent participants in the application...

or overlay network
Overlay network
An overlay network is a computer network which is built on the top of another network. Nodes in the overlay can be thought of as being connected by virtual or logical links, each of which corresponds to a path, perhaps through many physical links, in the underlying network...

, nodes that actively route data for the other networked devices as well as themselves are called supernodes.

Distributed systems may sometimes use virtual nodes so that the system is not oblivious to the heterogeneity of the nodes. This issue is addressed with special algorithms, like consistent hashing
Consistent hashing
Consistent hashing is a special kind of hashing. In contrast, in most traditional hash tables, a change in the number of array slots causes nearly all keys to be remapped...

, as it is the case in Amazon's, Inc. is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has separate websites for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and...


End node in cloud computing

Within a vast computer network, the individual computers on the periphery of the network, those that do not also connect other networks, and those that often connect transiently to one or more clouds
Cloud computing
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility over a network ....

 are called end nodes. Typically, within the cloud computing construct, the individual user / customer computer that connects into one well-managed cloud is called an end node. Since these computers are a part of the network yet unmanaged by the cloud's host, they present significant risks to the entire cloud. This is called the End Node Problem
End Node Problem
The End Node Problem arises when untrusted, individual computers temporarily become part of a trusted, well-managed network.Within a vast computer network, the individual computers on the periphery of the network and those that often attach transiently to one or more clouds are called end nodes...

. There are several means to remedy this problem but all require instilling trust in the end node computer.
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