By A. Schuster, J. Nicholson
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Extra resources for An Introduction to the Theory of Optics
It is imi0ortant to define the functions of each layer and the interfaces between layers. This is essential because it allows vendors to manufacture a variety of hardware and software products performing the functions of some, but not all, of the layers, and provide the appropriate interfaces to communicate with other products performing the functions of other layers. There are many possible implementations and standards for each layer. A given layer may work together with a variety of lower or higher layers.
This demand is fueled by many factors. The tremendous growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web, both in terms of number of users as well as the amount of time and thus bandwidth taken by each user, is a major factor. A simple example of the latter phenomenon is the following: An average voice phone call lasts about 3 minutes; in contrast, users connecting to the Internet via dialup lines typically stay on for an average of 20 minutes. So an Internet call brings in about six times as much traffic into a network as a voice call.
Each layer itself can in turn be broken up into several sublayers. As we study these networks, we will explore this layered hierarchy further. 7 shows a classical breakdown of the different layers in a network that was proposed by the International Standards Organization. The lowest layer in the hierarchy is the physical layer, which provides a "pipe" with a certain amount of bandwidth to the layer above it. The physical layer may be optical, wireless, or coaxial or twisted-pair cable. The next layer above is the data link layer, which is responsible for framing, multiplexing, and demultiplexing data sent over the physical layer.