Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach

With the wish to build up my computer science skills, I read and did exercises in this textbook based on the recommendation from TeachYourselfCS website.

The reason I chose Networking first is that I have worked with Internet everyday since I started working. But I did not expect that I will master the Networking field after learning this textbook. I just wanted to have the general understanding about Networking.

General Review

  • I really enjoyed this textbook as it helps me open up my eyes for a lot of things that I’ve seen and used in my daily life and work.
  • The book has many review and homework questions for each chapter, which helps a lot to enhance what we learnt.
  • It also has other supplemental materials like Wireshark exercises, applets (for example, demonstrating how a TCP package), and real projects.
A figure from the textbook to use airplane processes as an analogy for networking.

What I learnt

I could not purchase the seventh edition (the latest one till now). Instead, I could find the previous edition — 6th.

  • Chapter 1 – Computer Networks and the Internet. It’s easy to have a general understanding by using the analogy of moving between cities or flying between destinations.
  • Chapter 2 – Application Layer and Chapter 3 – Transport Layer. I think I understand these chapters most and they’re very close to my day-to-day work (web development). From what I learnt in Chapter 3, I found out and had an interesting look at a transport implementation in the web world — WebSocket.
  • Chapter 4 – Network Layer. This chapter explains a lot of terms I see everyday (e.g: CIDR, IPv4, IPv6) or many years ago (e.g: DHCP, WAN, LAN, subnet). I am too excited to understand these terms better now. But at the same time, I got to know some routing algorithms in the first time, e.g. BGP, RIP, and OSPF. I can understand their main concepts but I am not confident I can completely understand all algorithms. And at some moments, I even imagined Network Routing vs Finding Direction are similar problems though one is in the real life, and another is in… our own human imagination.
  • Chapter 5 – Link Layer and Chapter 6 – Mobile / Wireless. All of these discussions here are all far away from my daily work but their explanations are very interesting too.
  • Chapter 7 – Multimedia Networking. I also had a good explanation about challenges and solutions for transmitting huge files like videos. Think of YouTube, Vimeo, Netflix, and how they can carry so fast HD videos to visitors everywhere.
  • Chapter 8 – Security and Chapter 9 – Management. They’re all new to me. I am glad that I’ve learnt some basic ideas of these topics.

I finished most of review questions, some of homework questions, all Wireshark labs (exercises), and try all applets although I did not finish any real project. I did not find so much meaning to finish these real projects when it comes to my direct job.

All in all, this textbook and this topic in general are still recommended for anyone wanting to level up their computer science and development skills. They’re not directly applicable to my current working (mostly programming) but they provide good foundation in case I need to review them back and learn more.

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