Username / Password : Request For Comments

RFC Number : 36

Title : Protocol Notes.

Network Working Group S. Crocker
Request for Comments: 36 16 March 1970

Protocol Notes

I Overview

The network protocol provides three facilities:

1. Connection establishment

2. Flow control

3. Reconnection

Reconnection is considered separately from connection establishment
partly because of the complexity of reconnection and partly because I
don't have enough experience with the protocol to present these
concepts in an integrated fashion.

Connection Establishment

Connection establishment works essentially the same as in NWG/RFC
#33. The major change is that a more general form of switching is
provided independently of establishment, so establishment is
simplified by not including switching procedures.

A rough scenario for connection establishment follows:

1. Process PA in host A grabs socket SA and requests connection with
socket SB. Process PA accomplishes this through a system call.

2. Concurrently with the above, process PB in host B grabs socket SB
and requests connection with socket SA.

3. In response to process PA's request, the network control program
in host A (referred to as NCPA) sends a Request-for-Connection
(RFC) command to host B. NCPB in host B sends a similar command
to host A. No ordering is implied: NCPB may send the command to
NCPA before or after receiving the command from NCPA.

4. NCPA and NCPB are both aware the connection is established when
each has received a RFC command and each has received the RFNM
for the one it has sent. They then notify processes PA and PB,
respectively, that the connection is established.

Crocker [Page 1]

RFC 36 Protocol Notes March 1970

One of the rules adhered to is that either SA is a send socket and SB
is a receive socket or vice versa. This condition is sometimes
stated as 'SA and SB must be a send/receive pair.'

5. The sending process may now send.

Flow Control

In order to prevent a sending process from flooding a receiving
processes it is necessary for the receiving process to be able to
stop the flow(*). Flow control is integrated into the network RFNM
handling. When a receiving host wishes to inhibit flow on a
particular link, the host sends a special message to its IMP which
causes the next RFNM on that link to be modified. The sending host
interprets this message as a RFNM and as a request to stop sending.
A confirming control command is returned.

When the receiving host is ready to receive again, it sends a command
(RSM) telling the sending host to resume sending.


For a great many reasons it is desirable to be able to switch one (or
both) ends of a connection from one socket to another. Depending
upon the restrictions placed upon the switching process, it may be
easy or hard to implement. To achieve maximum generality, I present
here a scheme for dynamic reconnection, which means that reconnection
can take place even after flow has started. It may turn out that for
the majority of cases, this scheme is much more expensive than it
needs to be; however, the following virtues are claimed:

1. All various forms of switching connections are provided.

2. Reconnection introduces no overhead in the processing of
messages sent over a connection i.e., the whole cost is borne
in processing the protocol.

*BB&N argues that unlimited buffering should be provided. It is
possible that this would be a proper strategy: but it is foreign to
my way of thinking, and I have based the protocol design on the
assumption that only a small buffer is provided on the receive end of
each connection.

Crocker [Page 2]

RFC 36 Protocol Notes March 1970

II Data Structures

1. Connection Table
2. Process Table
3. Input Link Table
4. Output Link Table
5. Link Assignment Table

Connection Table

This holds all information pertaining to local sockets, particularly
whether a socket is engaged in a connection, and if so, what state
the connection is in. Entries are keyed by local socket, but other
tables have pointers into this table also. (See the Process Table,
Input Link Table, and Output Link Table.)

Each entry contains the following information:

a) local socket (key)
b) foreign socket
c) link
d) connection state
e) flow state and buffer control
f) pointer to user's process
g) reconnection control state
h) queue of waiting callers

The local socket is a 32 bit number. If no entry exists for a
particular socket, it may be created with null values.

The foreign socket is a 40 bit number. This field will be unassigned
if no connection is established.

The link is an 8 bit number and is the link over which data is sent
from the sender to the receiver. A socket is a receive socket iff
its low-order bit is zero.

Connection state refers to whether a connection is open or not, etc.
The following possibilities may occur.

a) local process has requested a connection
b) foreign process(es) has/have requested a connection
c) connection established
d) reconnection in progress
e) close waiting
f) reconnection waiting

Crocker [Page 3]

RFC 36 Protocol Notes March 1970

Flow state and buffer control refer to checking for RFNM's sending
and accepting cease, suspend and resume commands, and keeping track
of incoming or outgoing data.

A pointer to the user's process is necessary if the process has
requested a connection.

If reconnection is in progress, it is necessary to keep track of the
sequence of events. A socket engaged in reconnection is either an
end or a middle. If it's a middle, it is necessary to store the
eight bit name of the other middle attached to the same process, and
to record receipt of END and RDY commands.

Finally, if RFC's are received either when the socket is busy or when
no process has engaged it, the RFC's are stacked first-in-first-out
on a queue for the named local socket.

Process Table

This table associates a process with a socket. It is used to process
system calls.

Input Link Table

This table associates receive links with local sockets. It is used
to decide for whom incoming messages are destined.

Output Link Table

This table associates send links with local sockets. It is used to
interpret RFNM's and RSM commands.

Link Assignment Table

Links are assigned by receivers. This table shows which links are

Crocker [Page 4]

RFC 36 Protocol Notes March 1970

III Control Commands

Command Summary

1 or

No Operation

Form: NOP
NOP is X'00'

Purpose: This command is included for completeness and

Request for connection

is X'01'
is a 32 bit socket number local to the
is a 32 bit socket number local to the
is an eight bit link number.
and your socket must be a send/receive pair.
is included if and only if is a
receive socket

Purpose: This command is used to initiate a connection. When
two hosts have exchanged RFC commands with the same
arguments (reversed), the connection is established.
Links are assigned by the receiver.

Crocker [Page 5]

RFC 36 Protocol Notes March 1970


is X'02'
and are the same as for

Purpose: This command is used to block a connection. It may
also be used to abort the establishment of a connection
or to refuse a request. It may happen that no
connection between the named sockets was established,
or was in the process of being established. In this
event, the should be discarded.


is X'03'

Purpose: This command is sent by a receiving host to cause the
sending host to resume transmission on the named link.
A sending host suspends sending if it receives a
special RFNM for some message. (Special RFNM's are
generated by the receiving IMP upon request by its


is X'04'

Purpose: This command is sent by a sending host to acknowledge
that it has stopped sending over the named link.
Transmission will resume if a command is

Final End

is X'05'
is a 32 bit socket number of a socket local
to the sender
is a 32 bit socket number of a socket
local to the receiver
and form a send/receive pair.
A connection should be established between them.
is a 40 bit socket number of the same type as

Crocker [Page 6]

RFC 36 Protocol Notes March 1970

Purpose: If a process decides to short-circuit itself by connecting
one of its receive sockets to one of its send sockets, the
NCP sends out two commands -- one in each direction.
Each one has initialized to .

Upon receiving an command, the NCP checks its socket>. If is already engaged in a
reconnection, the command is passed on with a new socket> and . However, before it is passed
on, the is compared with the new . If
they are equal, a loop has been detected and both sockets
are closed.

If is not engaged in a reconnection, it is
marked as the end of a chain of reconnections and an
is sent back.

If the connection named is not in progress, a is sent
back and the is discarded.

End Found


is X'06'
is an 8 bit link

is a 40 bit socket

Purpose: This command indicates which socket is at the end of a
chain of reconnections. It is generated at socket> and passed back to the other terminal socket
via all the intermediate sockets. If is a
send socket, refers to a connection with the
send socket in the sending host and the receive socket
in the receiving host. If is a receive
socket, refers to a connection with the send
socket in the receiving host and the receive socket in
the sending hose. ('sending' end 'receiving' refer to
the transmission of this control command.)

Crocker [Page 7]

RFC 36 Protocol Notes March 1970



is X'07'
is an 8 bit link number

Purpose: This command is sent from a send socket to a receive
socket to indicate that all messages have been
forwarded and that reconnection may occur.

Assign New Link


is X'08'

Purpose: This command completes a reconnection. It is sent from
a receive socket to a send socket after the receive
socket has received a . A new link is assigned
and transmission commences.

[ This RFC was put into machine readable form for entry ]
[ into the online RFC archives by Marc Blanchett 3/00 ]

Crocker [Page 8]

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