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Computer Networking: A Top-Down Approach 5th (fifth) edition Text Only Hardcover – 2008

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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Top 4 Computer Network Books Compared 25 May 2009
By Michael Yasumoto - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This review compares the following four books:
Computer Networks by Peterson and Davie (P & D)
Computer Networks by Tanenbaum
Computer Networks by Comer / Internetworking with TCP/IP
Computer Networking by Kurose and Ross (K & R)

By far the best book in the list is "Computer Networking" by Kurose and Ross. This book covers all of the essential material that is in the other books but manages to do so in a relevant and entertaining way. This book is very up to date as seen by the release of the 5th Ed when the 4th Ed is barely two years old. There are lots of practical exercises using wireshark and the companion website is actually useful and relevant. The attitude of this book with regard to teaching networking concepts could be summed up as "try it out and see for yourself". One interesting thing to note is that the socket programming example are all in Java.

Next up is the Peterson and Davie book which covers everything that Kurose and Ross discuss but is slightly more mathematical in how it goes about things. There are a lot more numerical examples and defining of formulas in this book which is fine by me and in no way detracts from the book. Also the socket programming examples are in C which is a little more traditional. The points where this text loses ground to K & R is that it doesn't have the practical application exercises that K & R has and it also doesn't extend the basic networking theory that is covered to modern protocols like K & R.

The two Comer books come next. Comer's "Computer Networks" book is probably the most introductory book out of this whole list and is more of a survey of networking topics that doesn't cover anything in any real depth. Still, this is an excellent book in that it is a quick clear read that is very lucid in its explanations and you can't help feeling that you understand everything that is covered in the book. Comer's TCP/IP book is the equivalent of the other authors' computer network books and in that respect it is pretty average. It covers all of the relevant material and in a manner which is more than readable but that is all. There is nothing exceptional about the book which stands out from the rest.

Last comes Tanenbaum's book from the author who is probably most famous for his OS books. This is probably the most technical and detailed of the books with lots of sample C code belying is experience with operating systems and their network stack code. The weak point of this book is that all of the code and technical minutia might prevent the reader from seeing the forest for the trees. Unless you are trying to learn how to program your own network stack for a Unix/Linux system, then I would get either the K & R book or the P & D book to learn networking for the first time. This book would best be served as a reference in which case the technical nature of the book becomes a benefit rather than detracting from the text.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A good book, but no physical layer ? Wouldn't recommend to total newbies. 22 July 2010
By Y. Nozue - Published on
Format: Hardcover
After reading all the good reviews, I had a big expectation on this book and was a little disappointed in the end. I have read network books by Peterson&Davie, Tananbaum, and Forouzan so far, and Kurose's book comes somewhere between Tanenbaum's very detailed approach and Forouzan's plain and simple approach.

Pros and cons from my observation.

- Spends a lot of pages for application layer.
- The very detailed explanation on transport layer and network layer. Probably the best among all the computer network books on this part.
- Every protocol comes with RFC# and many references. Good for further study.

- Data link layer could have been better presented. Spends the entire chapter for CSMA(Ethernet) and not much mentions about connection oriented protocol. ATM is assigned only 2 pages which gives the readers nothing. Other important protocols(HDLC,Token-ring etc) should have been explained.
- Explanation on IP address(classful, CIDR, subnet) isn't deep enough.
- No chapter for physical layer. This is a big negative point.

Overall, it's a very good book, but I have to say that this book is top-heavy, by which what I mean is the focus is more on upper layers of protocol stack and many things are left out in the lower layers. May be intended to software people, but not for hardware people.

I'm not new to computer networking and can't read this book from the beginner's viewpoint, but I'm under the impression this book might be a little difficult to follow for those who have no idea how computer networks work. The reason I'd think that way is because of top-down approach. Although the total newbies have no idea about computer networking, they may have some vague idea about some data or signals transmitted between two hosts. Starting the discussion with logical properties(process) as in this book might lose the beginner readers in application layer or transport layer chapters. I'd guess it's probably easier for them to start out with physical layer which they can understand intuitively and climb up the protocol stack from there rather than climb down from the application layer. Many books are taking bottom-up approach and there is a reason for that, especially when the book is intended to beginners. What's even worse is that physical layer isn't even covered in this book. Therefore, I'd recommend Tanenbaum's book or Forouzan's to the beginners.
33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Thorough book, with some reservations 12 Mar. 2012
By rpv - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No doubt this is an excellent book for academics. There are thorough topics with detailed explanations. First some negatives before I go onto positives. Quickly glancing at the book, there are not many diagrams. I would have preferred lot of diagrams. Also I miss many practical examples for professionals, maybe Richard Steven's book is ore apt for that. I would have still preferred examples on Linux where applicable. Other problem is on physical condition. The hardcover was almost torn on arrival and after one day the hard cover came out from the book. I would have preferred a slightly larger font/better quality. I have a feeling the publishers are focusing on electronic format more than ever. Maybe iPad/Kindle editions are better.

Not for positives, The explanations on the layers are fantastic. There is an introduction on Layer 7 HTTP in beginning, and it is explained in detail later on. The chapters on TCP is really good. Overall for learning computer networks for a BS/MS course this book is very good.

The most important aspect to this book are the exercises. Some of the best problems in any networking book are found in this book. It instills the readers a keen interest to think and ponder over issues. Problems and good exercises make a book ultimately. Group study/class discussions can benefit a lot for instructors. Overall my recommendation is this is a very good for academics. For working professionals, I would lean towards Richard Steven's TCP/IP illustrated Volume 1 Edition 2.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Best book for a first course in networking 18 Sept. 2013
By Computer Science Graduate Student - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Previously I had written a review on "Computer Networks" by Tanenbaum and Wetherall. I had no exposure to Kurose & Ross, so I thought it was the best around. I was incorrect. Don't get me wrong, the Tanenbaum book is still quite good. But I am now using Kurose & Ross for my networking class, and it is far better for an intuitive understanding of networking.

What makes Kurose & Ross better for a first course in networking? It reads quite well (except for Chapter 5, I think the editor forgot to take a look at that one), which is an incredible achievement for a networking book. The flow of the book is much better, as is the approach to explanations. They approach their explanations of networking as though you are a person who has no exposure to networking. I do not think the Tanenbaum book is quite so careful. What does this mean in terms of the book? K&R uses many analogies to help you understand. It also has an entire section devoted to everything that happens, step by step, when a user requests a webpage. DHCP, ARP, TCP, HTTP, etc. This is great for the big picture.

Also, K&R motivates the materials by explaining the dilemma they faced at the time, what the conceptual design considerations are, and then you are primed for the explanation of the actual protocols. This is vastly helpful. Another point for K&R is the top down approach. It really provide a significant improvement for the average student.

Lastly, I think the scope and content of K&R is better for a first course in networking. They are quite detailed, yet they leave out other things that are extraneous to our current understanding of networking (e.g. Shannon's limit and Nyquist's Theorem -- the way my networking prof put it, those have been settled debates for many years, and don't really affect the study of networking today). Which lends itself to my final point: the math used in K&R is WAY more practical and intuitive. Propagation, Transmission, and Queueing delay, queueing efficiency, the difference in time between persistent and non-persistent HTTP, etc. Tanenbaum doesn't really have the unified picture in this regard, and some of the math in it is very unrealistic for a first course.

All in all, an incredible networking text.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Quite good 17 Feb. 2013
By AMC - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have the International Edition and so can only speak for that. This is the recommended text for our Data Comm course and and I find that the book does a good job given the fact I have zero background in this area. The lecturer also used the slides prepared by the authors so everything tied in nicely. If you do get the book, I would recommend that you check out the student's resources at the publisher's website. There are useful animations that enhance understanding of the material and the one that sticks in my mind concerns routing, MAC addresses and IP addresses. One final note, if you wish to learn subnetting painlessly you will need more material. My advice is to download the 3Com paper referenced by the authors, I read it and it was like a light was switched on.
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