ARCHIVE / What is the difference between a protocol and a standard?

A protocol is a series of prescribed steps to be taken, usually in order to allow for the coordinated action of multiple parties.  In the world of computers, protocols are used to allow different computers and/or software applications to work and communicate with one another.  Because computer protocols are usually formalized, many people consider protocols to be standards.  However, such is not actually the case.  Standards are simply agreed-upon models for comparison, such as the meter and the gram.  In the world of computers, standards are often used to define syntactic or other rule sets, and occasionally protocols, that are used as a basis for comparison.  Some good examples include ANSI SQL, used to compare derivations of the SQL database query language, and ANSI C, used to compare derivations of the C programming language.

last updated 2007.09.30

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