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Communication protocols are formal descriptions of digital message formats and rules. They are required to exchange messages in or between computing systems and are required in telecommunications.
Communications protocols cover authentication, error detection and correction, and signaling. They can also describe the syntax, semantics, and synchronization of analog and digital communications. Communications protocols are implemented in hardware and software. There are thousands of communications protocols that are used everywhere in analog and digital communications. Computer networks cannot exist without them.
Communications devices have to agree on many physical aspects of the data to be exchanged before successful transmission can take place. Rules defining transmissions are called protocols.
There are many properties of a transmission that a protocol can define. Common ones include: packet size, transmission speed, error correction types, handshaking and synchronization techniques, address mapping, acknowledgement processes, flow control, packet sequence controls, routing, address formatting
Popular protocols include: File Transfer Protocol (FTP), TCP/IP, User Datagram Protocol (UDP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), Post Office Protocol (POP3), Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).