On Distributed Communications Series

I. Introduction to Distributed Communications Networks

I. Introduction

Let us consider the synthesis of a communication network which will allow several hundred major communications stations to talk with one another after an enemy attack. As a criterion of survivability we elect to use the percentage of stations both surviving the physical attack and remaining in electrical connection with the largest single group of surviving stations. This criterion is chosen as a conservative measure of the ability of the surviving stations to operate together as a coherent entity after the attack. This means that small groups of stations isolated from the single largest group are considered to be ineffective.

Although one can draw a wide variety of networks, they all factor into two components: centralized (or star) and distributed (or grid or mesh) (see Fig. 1).

The centralized network is obviously vulnerable as destruction of a single central node destroys communication between the end stations. In practice, a mixture of star and mesh components is used to form communications networks. For example, type (b) in Fig. 1 shows the hierarchical structure of a set of stars connected in the form of a larger star with an additional link forming a loop. Such a network is sometimes called a "decentralized" network, because complete reliance upon a single point is not always required.

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