Chapter 7 exposes the algorithms that are the foundations of the Internet. The Internet relies on “packet-switching” to transfer data between computers. Messages are broken into ‘‘packets’’ of data and these packets are routed across the network in a series of hops between linked computers. The advantage of packet-switching is that the network is easily extended and is robust to isolated computer failures. Data sent on the Internet is protected from errors by means of an algorithm invented by Richard Hamming. His algorithm adds information to packets, enabling receiving computers to detect and correct transmission errors. Communication on the Internet is secured by means of an algorithm published in 1977. The RSA algorithm relies on the properties of large prime numbers to prevent eavesdroppers from reading encrypted messages.
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