Node Definition

A node is a device that is attached to a network.

The devices can be computers (including servers, workstations, ordinary PCs and thin clients), routers, printers and other shared resources, personal digital assistants (PDAs), cell phones, web TVs and various other network appliances.

Each one of these devices has at least one unique address on the network, i.e., a MAC address and an IP address, and uses the network as a means of communication with other nodes.

In an XML (extensible markup language) document, a node is the smallest unit of valid, complete structure. In a tree data structure, a node is a point at which two or more lines meet. A data structure is a way of storing data so that it can be used efficiently, and a tree is one of the most commonly used data structures.

The use of the term node with regard to computer is derived from biology, in which a node is the slightly enlarged point on a stem where leaves and buds arise and where branches originate. Stems have nodes but roots do not.

Created October 3, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 The Linux Information Project. All Rights Reserved.