Network topology is the study of the arrangement or mapping of the elements (links, nodes, etc.) of a network, especially the physical (real) and logical (virtual) interconnections between nodes.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A local area network (LAN) is one example of a network that exhibits both a physical topology and a logical topology. Any given node in the LAN will have one or more links to one or more other nodes in the network and the mapping of these links and nodes onto a graph results in a geometrical shape that determines the physical topology of the network. Likewise, the mapping of the flow of data between the nodes in the network determines the logical topology of the network. It is important to note that the physical and logical topologies might be identical in any particular network but they also may be different.
Any particular network topology is determined only by the graphical mapping of the configuration of physical and/or logical connections between nodes. LAN Network Topology is, therefore, technically a part of graph theory. Distances between nodes, physical interconnections, transmission rates, and/or signal types may differ in two networks and yet their topologies may be identical
The arrangement or mapping of the elements of a network gives rise to certain basic topologies which may then be combined to form more complex topologies (hybrid topologies). The most common of these basic types of topologies are (refer to the illustration at the top right of this page):
Bus (Linear, Linear Bus)
partially connected mesh (or simply 'mesh')
fully connected mesh
Point to Point