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Binary Message Forms in Computer (RFC0031)

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000003505D
Original Publication Date: 1968-Feb-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2000-Sep-13
Document File: 4 page(s) / 10K

Publishing Venue

Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)

Related People

D. Bobrow: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Network communication between computers is becoming increasingly important. However, the variety of installations working in the area probably precludes standardization of the content and form of inter- computer messages. There is some hope, however, that a standard way of defining and describing message forms can be developed and used to facilitate communication between computers. Just as ALGOL serves as a standard vehicle for describing numerous algorithms, and BNF serves as a standard for describing language syntax, a message description language would be useful as a standard vehicle for defining message formats. Considerable progress has been made at the low level of message handling protocol and one can expect the ASCII protocols to be used. The discussion which follows assumes that the mechanics of exchanging messages, check sums, repeat requests, etc., have been worked out. The topic of concern is how to describe the content and intent of a binary message body when the network header and trailer details have been stripped off. Most attempts at describing the content of binary messages jump immediately into a consideration of the bit codings to be used. Long, thin rectangles are drawn to represent the binary bit stream; this stream is sliced up into boxes, and tables generally describe the bit options for each box. A better approach would be to provide a symbolic method for describing messages. The symbolism, by avoiding immediate references to specific bit details, should help one's understanding of the message content and the alternatives available in the message body. When the basic form of the binary message body is clear, the coding details of the actual bit fields can be shown.

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Network Working Group

Request for Comments: 31

BINARY MESSAGE FORMS IN COMPUTER NETWORKS

Daniel Bobrow

Bolt, Beranek, and Newman

Cambridge, Massachusetts

William R. Sutherland

MIT Lincoln Laboratory

Lexington, Massachusetts

February 1968

MESSAGE FORMS IN COMPUTER NETWORKS

INTRODUCTION

Network communication between computers is becoming increasingly

important. However, the variety of installations working in the area

probably precludes standardization of the content and form of inter-

computer messages. There is some hope, however, that a standard way

of defining and describing message forms can be developed and used to

facilitate communication between computers. Just as ALGOL serves as

a standard vehicle for describing numerous algorithms, and BNF serves

as a standard for describing language syntax, a message description

language would be useful as a standard vehicle for defining message

formats.

Considerable progress has been made at the low level of message

handling protocol and one can expect the ASCII protocols to be used.

The discussion which follows assumes that the mechanics of exchanging

messages, check sums, repeat requests, etc., have been worked out.

The topic of concern is how to describe the content and intent of a

binary message body when the network header and trailer details have

been stripped off.

Most attempts at describing the content of binary messages

jump immediately into a consideration of the bit codings to be used.

Long, thin rectangles are drawn to represent the binary bit stream;

this stream is sliced up into boxes, and tables generally describe

the bit options for each box. A better approach would be to provide

a symbolic method for describing messages. The symbolism, by

avoiding immediate references to specific bit details, should help

one's understanding of the message content and the alternatives

available in the message body. When the basic form of the binary

message body is clear, the coding details of the actual bit fields

can be shown.

Describing a binary message body is not much different from

describing a text body or language. Text assumes fixed bit fields

each containing one character. Standard language description methods

(BNF) then show how the characters can be concatenated and what

interpretation should be placed on character groups. Binary message

descriptions require the a...