Topology is the physical layout of computers, cables, switches, routers, and other components of a network. This term can also refer to the underlying network architecture, such as Ethernet or Token Ring. The word “topology” comes from topos, which is Greek for «place».
When you design a network, your choice of topology will be determined by the size, architecture, cost, and management of the network. Basic network topologies include the following:
Variations of these basic topologies include the following:
The term “topology” can refer to either a network’s physical topology, which is the actual physical layout or pattern of the cabling, or its logical topology, which is the path that signals actually take around the network. This difference is most evident in Token Ring networks, whose cabling is physically arranged in a star but whose signal flows in a ring from one component to the next. The term “topology” without any further description is usually assumed to mean the physical layout.