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. 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
    Oct 6, 2022 at 9:30

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