Internet Architecture Course from Stanford

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If you are looking a high-level conceptual understanding of how the internet is put together, you can not get any better than Stanford's Internet Programming Course Here is a quick list of the broad topics covered:

  1. Standards
  2. and Client/Server structures
  3. Services
  4. Applications
  5. Security and Privacy

I found the lecture on "Atoms and Bits" to be particularly illuminating for highlighting the types of problems that computers and the internet can solve. According to that lecture, there are two types of problems:

1) Thing problems and
2) Information problems.

Thing problems involve atoms, which are extremely massive when compared to electrons. Information problems involve electrons. The computer is great at solving information problems because it can easily move electrons around, but it is not so good at solving thing problems.

Examples of information problems include using electronic identification to allow access to a car instead of a physical key, sending e-mail across the country, and so on.

Examples of thing problems are: 1) sending a package to South Africa; 2) buiding a house; and other similar problems where entire atoms have to be moved.

Further Study

Russ Haynal – provides an excellent visual diagram of the major pieces involved in internet architecture.

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