What Does Topology Mean?

Network topology is the interconnected pattern of network elements. A network topology may be physical, mapping hardware configuration, or logical, mapping the path that the data must take in order to travel around the network.


There are many identified topologies but they are not strict, which means that any of them can be combined. However, each topology has a different standard and may use different hardware methods so they are not interchangeable.

Techopedia Explains Topology

Physical topology refers to the physical design of the network, while logical topology refers to how data is handled within the network regardless of its physical topology.

A local area network (LAN) is a good example of a network that shows both a logical and physical topology. All the terminals in the LAN are linked together; the mapping of this interconnection is the physical topology, while data flow determines the logical topology of the network.

There are seven basic types of physical topology:

  • Point-to-point topology
  • Bus (point-to-multipoint) topology
  • Star topology
  • Ring topology
  • Tree topology
  • Mesh topology
  • Hybrid topology

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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…