Many routing systems have implemented a technique, known generally as a shortest path protocol (SPF). A better term is optimum path, but the former term is now accepted. These protocols are based on well-tested techniques that have been used in the industry for a number of years. In this section, we first describe these techniques. In later chapters, we examine how bridges and routers use the SPF techniques The term node in this discussion is synonymous with bridge, gateway, and router.

Ideally, data communications networks are designed to route user traffic based on a variety of criteria, generally referred to as a least-cost routing or cost metrics. The name does not mean that routing is based ...

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