My book (Andrew S. Tanenbaum, “Computer Networks”, Fifth Edition.) takes that as the definition of "Computer Networks".

I was able to find out that by autonomous computers, it's referring to those that have no control over one another but I don't see why this is a restriction.

For "single technology", I'm not sure what this exactly is talking about. I don't know what is an example of a network that incorporates "multiple technologies" and again I don't know why this is a restriciton.

1 Answer 1


"autonomous computers" means that each of those computers must be able to run on its own - possibly not with its full functionality (e.g. disk-less workstation/server), but at least with basic functionality.

"interconnected by a single technology" means that they need to share a common means to communicate with one another. The "single technology" might be an IPv4 stack, Ethernet aka IEEE 802.3, Wifi aka IEEE 802.11, or any other shared protocol.

In a broader sense, similar "technologies" or protocols may be adapted to each other (e.g. Ethernet-Wifi bridging). In an even broader sense, protocols may be translated to each other (e.g. IPv4 mapping over IPv6, FTP over HTTP proxy). Whether those still represent a "common network" depends on your point of view.

  • Xerox built laser printers and copiers where the internal components were connected to each other via Ethernet. That is an example of an Ethernet network that is not a computer network, since it does not connect "autonomous computers" but rather individual components such as the CPU, RAM, scanner, printer, hard disk, display, button panel, etc. Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 9:06
  • @JörgWMittag That is where (ast's) theory meets real life. ;-) Joking aside, from the network perspective, each of those components is an autonomous computer ("with basic functionality"), even if they cannot be distinguished from the outside.
    – Zac67
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 9:30

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