Transmission Control Protocol
The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is one of the core protocols of the Internet Protocol Suite. TCP is one of the two original components of the suite, complementing the Internet Protocol (IP), and therefore the entire suite is commonly referred to as TCP/IP. TCP provides reliable, ordered delivery of a stream of bytes from a program on one computer to another program on another computer. TCP is the protocol that major Internet applications such as the World Wide Web, email, remote administration and file transfer rely on. Other applications, which do not require reliable data stream service, may use the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), which provides a datagram service that emphasizes reduced latency over reliability.
TCP network function.
TCP provides a communication service at an intermediate level between an application program and the Internet Protocol (IP). That is, when an application program desires to send a large chunk of
data across the Internet using IP, instead of breaking the data into IP-sized pieces and issuing a series of IP requests, the software can issue a single request to TCP and let TCP handle the IP details.
IP works by exchanging pieces of information called packets. A packet is a sequence of octets and consists of a header followed by a body. The header describes the packet’s destination and, optionally, the routers to use for forwarding until it arrives at its destination. The body contains the data IP is transmitting.
Due to network congestion, traffic load balancing, or other unpredictable network behavior, IP packets can be lost, duplicated, or delivered out of order. TCP detects these problems, requests retransmission of lost data, rearranges out-of-order data, and even helps minimize network congestion to reduce the occurrence of the other problems. Once the TCP receiver has reassembled the sequence of octets originally transmitted, it passes them to the application program. Thus, TCP abstracts the application’s communication from the underlying networking details.
TCP is utilized extensively by many of the Internet’s most popular applications, including the World Wide Web (WWW), E-mail, File Transfer Protocol, Secure Shell, peer-to-peer file sharing, and some streaming media applications.
TCP is optimized for accurate delivery rather than timely delivery, and therefore, TCP sometimes incurs relatively long delays (in the order of seconds) while waiting for out-of-order messages or retransmissions of lost messages. It is not particularly suitable for real-time applications such as Voice over IP. For such applications, protocols like the Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) running over the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) are usually recommended instead.
TCP is a reliable stream delivery service that guarantees delivery of a data stream sent from one host to another without duplication or losing data. Since packet transfer is not reliable, a technique known as positive acknowledgment with retransmission is used to guarantee reliability of packet transfers. This fundamental technique requires the receiver to respond with an acknowledgment message as it receives the data. The sender keeps a record of each packet it sends, and waits for acknowledgment before sending the next packet. The sender also keeps a timer from when the packet was sent, and retransmits a packet if the timer expires. The timer is needed in case a packet gets lost or corrupted.