Computers and Networking

Computers and Networking
Chapter 2
Computers and Networking
Adam Flanders
2.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.2 Computers 101 – Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.2.1 Hardware Elements of Computers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3 Computers 101 – Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3.1 Computer Operating System. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3.2 Application Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3.3 Low-Level Programming Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3.4 High-Level Programming Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.4 Computer Networking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.4.1 Physical (Hardware) Networking Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.4.2 Network Switches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.4.3 Network Protocols . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.4.4 Data Packets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.5 Client–Server Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.6 Database Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Self-Assessment Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.1 Introduction
The core infrastructure of any modern Radiology department is made up of
computers/computer workstations and the connectivity or networking capability between these devices. All transactions between modalities, PACS, scheduling, billing, dictation, and reporting systems are made possible through
specialized computer programs or applications that are executed by computers.
Computer systems are quite diverse and are often designed to augment a
specific task, whether it is to support image reconstruction for a modality
such as computed tomography (CT) or digital radiography (DR) or rapid
image display as in PACS. Fundamentally, all computers are built around a
similar base design with enhancements in specific areas to address certain needs
such as rapid storage access and data transfer for fileservers and improved video
characteristics for PACS client display stations. The purpose of this chapter is
to familiarize the reader with the fundamentals of computer architecture,
networking, and computer applications.
DOI 10.1007/978-1-4419-0485-0_2,
Ó Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine 2009
A. Flanders
2.2 Computers 101 – Hardware
2.2.1 Hardware Elements of Computers
There are five core hardware components of the modern digital computer
system: the central processing unit or CPU, memory, input devices, output
devices, and a bus. While some components are given greater emphasis for
a particular computer design (e.g., a faster CPU for computationally
intensive tasks), virtually all
types of computers have these
five key components represented.
Key Concept 2.1:
Most of the hardware compoCore Computer Hardware
nents in the modern digital comComponents
puter are contained within small
modular semiconductor packages
(integrated circuits [ICs] or chip)
Input devices
that, in turn, contain millions of
Output devices
discrete components. Numerous
ICs are interconnected on a large
circuit board, frequently referred
to as the motherboard. The
motherboard is interfaced with other outside components (e.g., disk
drives, power supply, keyboard, network, etc.) using specialized couplers
that provide necessary power and connectivity to peripheral devices such
as disk drives (storage), video displays, and keyboards.
The central processing unit (CPU) or microprocessor is typically the largest
integrated circuit on the motherboard and its role is to execute specific
commands or instructions/machine code dictated by a computer program
and orchestrate the movement of data and instructions through the entire
computer system. Although the CPU is frequently personified as the
‘‘brain’’ of the computer, it has no innate ‘‘intelligence’’ or inherent ability
to make decisions. The CPU’s strength is in its ability to process instructions and manipulate data at amazing speeds. In this regard, it is the perfect
soldier; it follows all commands presented to it with blazing efficiency.
The number of instructions that a CPU can perform per second is
expressed as its clock speed. Typical personal computer CPUs can perform over 3 billion instructions per second or 3 gigahertz (3 GHz).
Modern CPUs actually contain two to eight CPUs in one IC or chip
(multi-core CPU). This provides unparalleled computational speed as
each core shares the processing tasks formerly assigned to one CPU.
While the strength of the CPU is in its ability to process instructions, it
has limited capability to store data before or after execution. The CPU
relies on physical memory to store this information and provides it to
the CPU on demand.
2 Computers and Networking
Memory is principally used to temporarily store data (and results) and
applications or programs. In contrast to the CPU, a memory module has
no capability to process instructions; instead memory is designed to reliably
store large chunks of data and then release these data on command (often at
the behest of the CPU). Physical memory can exist in solid-state form as an
IC or as physical media (spinning disk, compact disk [CD], or digital versatile
disk [DVD]). A solid-state memory module that can be erased and rewritten
for unlimited number of times is generically referred to as random access
memory or RAM.
Memory that can only retain data with power applied is referred to a volatile
memory – most of the motherboard memory modules are of this type. These
are rated by their storage capacity (given in megabytes or gigabytes), access
speed (in nanoseconds), data rate (DDR2), and configuration (single or dual
inline memory SIMM or DIMM).
Non-volatile memory will retain data written to it until it is erased or overwritten. Examples include USB memory sticks and disk drives. Since the
inherent speed of non-volatile memory is substantially slower than that of
volatile memory, volatile RAM is typically employed on the motherboard to
augment data processing.
Some forms of memory are designed for specific tasks. Video memory
(VRAM) is employed on video graphics cards to store graphical information to improve video display performance. A specialized form of
high-performance memory is found on most CPUs to help efficiently
buffer data that move in and out of the microprocessor core (L2 cache
There are additional forms of computer memory that are classified simply as
storage, principally because they are characterized by slower speed compared
to solid-state memory and non-volatile characteristics (data persist indefinitely until erased/overwritten). These are made up of spinning media (disk
drives, CDs, and DVDs) and linear media (tape).
On-line storage refers to high-performance, non-removable media that
requires no human or mechanical intervention to retrieve.
Key Concept 2.2:
Data on spinning hard disk
Types of Data Storage
arrays are an example of on On-line
line storage. Near-line storage
consists of removable media
(e.g., tapes, CDs, or DVDs)
that are made available through
mechanical means such as a robotic tape or optical disk jukebox. The
efficiency of data retrieval with a near-line system is dependant upon
the mechanical speed of the robotic system and the queuing mechanism of the media. Off-line storage is removable media that requires
human intervention to load and retrieve data. As a result, performance
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is the lowest for off-line storage. While off-line storage is the least
expensive storage strategy, it is otherwise quite inefficient and is therefore reserved for data that have a low probability for future use.
Input/output devices are hardware extensions that allow humans (or
other devices) to interact with a computer. Examples of input devices
include the keyboard, touch screen, mouse, microphone, and camera.
Typical output devices include the video display, printer, plotter, and
Because the typical microprocessor can execute several billions of
commands per second, it is highly dependant upon an efficient
mechanism for delivering instructions and data to it. This requires
that there is a well-orchestrated method for moving data between the
motherboard components and the CPU. The data bus is the physical
data chain built into the motherboard that allows for this efficient
data transfer. This is supported by several ICs, known as the chipset,
which coordinates uninterrupted data transfers through the bus. Multiple different designs have been developed; the most common in use
today is peripheral component interconnect (PCI) and PCI-Express.
The data bus is defined by a data-width (typically 32 or 64 bits), which
specifies how much data are
delivered across the bus per
cycle and a clock speed (given
Key Concept 2.3: Booting Up
in megahertz).
The motherboard, the CPU, and
Another key component to the
memory retain no previous infortypical computer motherboard is
mation about how the computer
the basic input/output system
is configured. Every time the
(BIOS). The BIOS is comprised
computer turns on, it pulls itself
of a non-erasable read only memup by its bootstraps (‘‘booting
ory (ROM) chip that contains the
minimal amount of software
necessary to instruct the computer
how to access the keyboard,
mouse, display, disk drives, and communications ports.
When the power is first applied to the computer, the motherboard
relies on the BIOS to tell what additional components are available to
the motherboard for input and output (e.g., disk drives, memory,
keyboard, etc.). The motherboard ‘‘becomes aware’’ of what is available and how to access it, each and every time the computer is
The BIOS also provides information to the motherboard on where to find
the first piece of software to load during the startup process. The startup
process is also known as the boot process. The first piece of software to load is
usually a portion of the operating system that will coordinate the other
software programs.
2 Computers and Networking
2.3 Computers 101 – Software
Hardware can be seen and handled. Software, on the other hand, is a virtual
concept. While we can handle the media that software is written on, we
cannot actually ‘‘see’’ the software.
The term ‘‘software’’ applies both
Key Concept 2.4:
to application programs and data.
Software Versus Hardware
Software at its lowest level (the level
The fundamental distinction
at which it interacts with the CPU)
between software and hardware
consists of a long series of bits (ones
is that hardware exists as the tanand zeros). All data written to phygible physical components and
sical media, whether it is magnetic
connections inside a computer.
disk, USB stick, CD, DVD, or
RAM memory is stored as an
orderly series of bits. Eight-bit clusters of data form a byte of data.
Software is divided into system software (or operating system) and application software – programs that help users to perform specific tasks and
programming software (or development software) – programs that aid in
the writing (i.e., coding) of other software.
All software consists of individual
procedures that command the
Further Reading 2.5:
computer to follow a precisely
Core Computer Components
orchestrated series of instructions.
White R, Downs TE. How
The number of individual instrucComputers Work. 9th ed.
tions specified in any one program
Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishvaries depending upon the type
ing; 2008.
and complexity of the software –
from 10 to 100 million lines of
code. (The Windows XP operating system, for example, contains approximately 40 million lines of code.)
All computer software must be moved into storage (i.e., disk drive) or
physical memory (RAM) before it can be executed by the microprocessor.
The instructions are passed through a series of software layers where they
ultimately reach the microprocessor. Each instruction causes the computer
to perform one or more operations.
2.3.1 Computer Operating System
The operating system (OS) is the underlying software that integrates the
hardware with software applications. It is distinguished from the essential
hardware components in that it consists entirely of software – millions of
lines of machine commands that are understood and obeyed by the microprocessor. The OS actually consists of hundreds or thousands of individual
programs that bundled together. Many of these individual programs are
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designed to work cooperatively with each other. The OS is automatically
executed each time the computer is started and it is the most important
software component running on any computer. A modern computer cannot
operate without an OS.
Although the CPU is frequently personified as the ‘‘brain’’ of the computer, it
is really the OS software and the CPU acting together that provides the
underlying ‘‘intelligence’’ of system. The OS and the CPU are inexorably
linked; therefore, the distinction between the software and the hardware is
sometimes blurred.
The OS is designed to automatically manage nearly every task (or process) including maintenance of the files on the disk, tracking input from
peripheral devices like keyboards or network cards, displaying output on
printers and video displays and control of memory allocation. Memory
allocation is crucial for maintaining stability of the system because if two
programs try to use the same area of memory, both programs will usually
fail. Two of the most critical jobs of the OS are ensuring that programs
do not unintentionally interfere with each other and maintaining
A function paramount to the modern OS is the support of the graphical user
interface (GUI). A GUI replaces typed computer commands with a graphical
representation of the task (e.g., moving a file). This is accomplished by
creating a visual representation of the computer file system (the desktop),
icons, and windows and linking them to the movements of a pointing device
such as a mouse or trackball.
The OS also provides a foundation or software platform for all other
software (application programs). Therefore, the choice of OS, to a large
extent, determines which application software can be used on a particular
There are a number of operating systems in use today. The most popular is
the Windows OS (Microsoft, Redmond Washington) that runs on the
majority of computers worldwide. Other choices include UNIX, Linux,
DOS, and the Mac OS (Macintosh).
A multiprocessing OS supports use of more than one CPU. A multitasking
OS allows more than one program to run simultaneously. A multithreading
OS allows different parts of a program to run concurrently and a multi-user
OS supports two or more individuals to run programs concurKey Concept 2.6: Drivers
rently on the same computer
Drivers are small programs that
enable the operating system and
An OS may consist of hundreds (or
application programs to interact
even thousands) of small programs
with each other and with periphcalled drivers. Drivers enable softeral hardware devices. They
ware to interact with the ubiquirequire periodic upgrades, espetous hardware devices attached to
cially when the OS changes.
the motherboard and between
2 Computers and Networking
components on the motherboard itself. In other instances, drivers allow one
software component to safely interact with another piece of software.
From the user perspective, the OS provides the framework that application
software runs inside of. All application software runs on top of the OS that, in
turn, is directly integrated to the hardware. In general, application software
cannot interact directly with the hardware; it must work through the OS. The
modern OS is intentionally designed to sustain itself automatically with
minimal user interaction. The software that is designed to perform real
work for users is the application software.
2.3.2 Application Software
OS software is designed to run autonomously with little interaction from
the individual user. The OS monitors all internal functions of the computer, maintains stability of the hardware components, and regulates the
processing of data in the microprocessor. Application software is a program designed to do real work for a user. Application software does not
supplant the base OS software. Instead, application software runs on top
of the OS such that an application is written (or coded) to work with a
specific OS. Examples of application software include a word processor or
2.3.3 Low-Level Programming Language
Low-level programming language is the software language that is directly
understood by a microprocessor, and is termed machine code or machine
language. Every CPU model has its own native machine code or instruction set. The instruction set consists of a limited number of relatively
primitive tasks such as adding or subtracting data in specialized memory
placeholders called registers, or moving data from one register to the
Despite their enormous processing speed, the intrinsic mathematical capabilities of a microprocessor are quite limited; a CPU cannot perform simple
multiplication or division on its own – it has to be taught how to do it. By
stringing a series of machine codes together, more complex processing (e.g.,
multiplication) is possible.
Both machine code and its symbolic representation (assembly language) are
considered as low-level languages because they are the closest command
analog to the actual functional details of the microprocessor. Low-level
does not imply diminished quality or efficiency; in fact, programs written
directly in machine code or assembly language are very efficient.
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2.3.4 High-Level Programming Language
Although low-level programming instructions produce efficient programs,
programming in machine code or assembler is difficult, tedious, and very
time consuming.
High-level programming language is really an abstraction of machine code
programming because it uses natural language elements instead of arcane
numbers and abbreviations. This makes the process of programming simpler, intuitive, and more understandable to the human programmer.
High-level programming is the foundation of most software development
projects. There are many high-level languages in common use today. Some
of the languages currently include C, C#, C++, BASIC, Pascal, Java,
FORTRAN, COBOL, and others.
Using high-level programming languages, programmers (or ‘‘coders’’) type
out individual lines of the source code for an application, using a development software program. The lines of the source code need to be translated
into machine code before the program can be understood and tested on the
microprocessor. This conversion process is known as compiling a program
and the software that converts the source code to machine code is known as a
Most development software platforms include one or more compilers. The
compiler turns the source code into an executable program that is customized
for the specific OS/microprocessor combination that the program was developed for.
The compiler saves the programKey Concept 2.7:
mer a substantial amount of time
Low-Level Versus High-Level
and effort by constructing the
Programming Languages
sequence of machine codes that
A single print statement in highaccurately represents each source
level source code programming
code command.
language might produce a thouProgrammers must follow a
sand individual machine code
tedious sequence of compiling,
commands once it is compiled.
testing, identifying errors, correcting errors, re-coding, and re-compiling a program in a process known as debugging the program. The majority
of time devoted to programming is spent on debugging the code.
Scripting languages differ from compiled languages in that the source code is
interpreted and converted into machine code at the time of execution –
obviating the compiling process. The development process with scripted
languages is typically more rapid than with compiled code; however, because
scripting languages are interpreted at the time of execution, they are typically
slower to execute. Therefore, scripted language is often reserved for smaller
programs that are not computationally intensive. Scripting languages
include Apple Script, Visual Basic (or VB) script, shell script, and JavaScript.
2 Computers and Networking
2.4 Computer Networking
A computer network is a group of two or more interconnected computers that
are capable of sharing data and resources. Networking allows multiple independent users to share the same resources (i.e., applications and data) and work
with these data simultaneously. Fast, reliable networks form the backbone of
digital Radiology department and allow large quantities of imaging data to be
efficiently transported between modalities, archives, and viewing stations.
Computer networks can be classified on the basis of scale (i.e., size, complexity), scope, topology, architecture, and connection method. The most common network is the local area network (LAN). A LAN is characterized by
serving computers in a small geographic area such as a home or an office.
A network that is comprised of two or more LANs is termed a wide area
network (WAN). Although the term is somewhat ambiguous, it is more
commonly used to describe networks with a broad geographic coverage –
metropolitan, regional, or national. The largest WAN is the public Internet,
which is a global system of interconnected computer networks.
A typical Radiology department network would consist of at least one LAN
that may be interconnected to a larger WAN (e.g., hospital network).
Connection of two or more networks (i.e., Internetworking) changes the
scope of network resources to any computer on the network. An intranet is
one or more networks that are under control of a single administrative
authority. Access to any external or unregulated networks is either not
provided or is limited to authorized users.
An extranet is an internally managed network (intranet) that maintains
limited connectivity to networks that are neither managed, owned, nor
controlled by the same entity. An extranet is typically isolated from the
public Internet with security measures such as firewalls that regulate connectivity to outside or unmanaged networks. Most hospitals and business
organizations configure their internal network in this way.
Many home networks (wireless or
wired) are extranets that consist of a
Further Reading 2.8:
LAN with access provided to the
public Internet (WAN) via an Inter Kurose JF, Ross KW. Computer
net service provider (ISP) (e.g.,
Networking: A Top-Down
Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc.).
Approach. 4th ed. Reading, MA:
Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.;
2.4.1 Physical (Hardware)
Networking Components
Basic physical components of a
computer network include the network card, cabling, and a point of connection (e.g., hub, repeater, bridge, router, or network switch).
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The network interface card (NIC) is the piece of computer hardware that
provides the capability for a computer to communicate over a network.
Every NIC possesses a unique number, its media access control (MAC)
address. This number can be used to help route data to and from other
The physical connection of the
Definition 2.9: Bandwidth
computer to the network is usually
accomplished through specialized
The maximum amount of data
cabling that contains four pairs of
that can be transmitted over a
simple copper wires (twisted pair)
medium, usually measured in bits
in a configuration known as cateper second.
gory 5 or Cat5, or its enhanced
version Cat5e. Cat5 cabling frequently terminates in special rectangle plastic connectors that
Key Concept 2.10:
resemble oversized telephone
Network Devices
handset connectors.
Other forms of physical connecThere is a one-to-one relationship
tion used less often include fiber
between computers and network
optic cables (optical fiber) and wiredevices. That is, there is only one
less (802.11x). Fiber optic provides
computer attached to each netgreater transmission capacity
work cable.
(bandwidth) than Cat5 and wireless
affords greater access where physical connections are not readily available.
The term Ethernet describes the wiring and signaling schema for the NIC and
the cabling between devices on the network.
2.4.2 Network Switches
The cornerstones of the computer
Key Concept 2.11:
network are switches, the devices
Types of Network Switches
that connect other devices together
on the network. Switches vary in
the degree of functionality by
which they manage the data traffic
that passes through them. The
term switch is an imprecise term that refers to many types of network devices.
The simplest and most inexpensive of network switches is the network hub.
The hub provides a simple and passive method for all computers connected
to it to transmit and receive data to each other. Each computer network cable
has an individual connection (port) to the hub. The hub creates a shared
medium where only one computer can successfully transmit at a time and
each computer (host) is responsible for the entire communication process.
2 Computers and Networking
The hub is a passive device. The hub merely replicates all messages to all
hosts connected to it and does not have any capability to route messages to a
specific destination. A network hub is the most basic and inefficient means of
connectivity. For this reason, simple hubs are rarely used today.
The network bridge improves upon the design of the basic network hub by
providing a level of active management of the communication between
attached hosts. The bridge is capable of learning the MAC addresses of the
connected host computers and will only send data destined for a specific host
through the port associated with a unique MAC address. By routing the data
stream to the intended recipient, switching creates a more efficient method
for network transmission.
Since the bridge needs to examine all data sent through it, it creates some
processing overhead that slows the data transmission rate. Bridges typically
support data transmission rates of 10, 100, and 1000 megabits per second
The network router offers yet another level of technical sophistication over
the network bridge. Like the network bridge, a router is capable of examining the contents of the data passing through it and is able to discern the
identity of the sender and the recipient. However, instead of relying on the
value of the hardware NIC MAC address (which is fixed and not configurable), the router is capable of discerning data based upon a software configurable identifier known as the Internet protocol address (IP address).
The IP address is a configurable 32-bit numeric value (e.g.,
192.123.456.789) that is used to uniquely identify devices and the networks
to which they belong. Using this schema, a host that is accessible globally
must have a unique IP address; however, a host that is hidden within a
private network need not have a globally unique address (it only needs to
be unique on the local network). This scheme allows for conservation of
unique IP addresses.
The typical broadband network router used in home networking has additional features such as dynamic host control protocol (DHCP), network
address translation (NAT), and a network firewall. These additional features
provide a secure connection between the home LAN and the ISP WAN. The
router using NAT serves as a proxy that allows multiple computers to share a
single public Internet IP address. The broadband network router assigns
each computer in the home network its own IP address that is only unique
within the home network.
2.4.3 Network Protocols
In order for them to communicate effectively, each device must adhere to a
specific set of rules for communication called network protocols. Networks
are usually comprised of a heterogeneous group of devices of different make,
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model, vintage, and performance. The most ubiquitous network protocol
over Ethernet is the Internet protocol suite (IPS) or transmission control
protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP).
TCP/IP is a software abstraction of protocols and services necessary for the
establishment of communication between two computers on a network. This
network abstraction was set down by the International Organization for
Standardization (OSI) and is referred to as the OSI network model. The
model describes five to seven information layers that link computer software
application to the hardware that must perform the actual transmission and
receipt of data.
The layers in the network OSI model rely upon protocols to regulate how
information is passed up through and down the OSI stack.
The Internet protocol suite defines a number of rules for establishment of
communication between computers. In most instances, the connection is a
one-to-one relationship. Two computers go through a negotiation process
prior to making a connection. The negotiations include request and acceptance of an initial connection, the type of connection, the rate of transmission, data packet size, data acknowledgement as well as when and how to
transmit missing data.
2.4.4 Data Packets
Data transmitted over a network is broken up into multiple small discrete
chunks or packets before being sent over the network by the NIC. Packet size
is variable and is part of the ‘‘negotiations’’ when establishing a network
connection with another computer.
Since a network segment can only be used by a single computer at any
one instant and the physical parts of the network (i.e., cabling and
switches) are shared by many computers, splitting data streams up into
smaller parcels in a shared network model improves network efficiency
Switching and assigning resources on a shared network is a complex
process – one which needs to occur in the order of microseconds to maintain efficient communication between thousands of devices that are potentially competing for these resources. Despite the refined sophistication of
the system, there are instances where two or more computers attempt to
send data along the same segment simultaneously. This phenomenon is
termed a collision. Optimum network design mandates minimizing collisions and maximizing collision detection to maintain fidelity of data
Additional metadata is automatically married to each data packet based
upon protocols specified in by IPS and contains information such as the data
type, packet number, total number of packets as well as the IP address of the
2 Computers and Networking
sender and receiver. This is analoKey Concept 2.12: Data Packets
gous to placing a letter (packet) in
Since each packet is self-contained
an envelope with delivery informaand auto-routable, different packtion (sender and return address).
ets from a single message can traData packets with this additional
vel over completely different
data wrapper are referred to as data
routes to arrive at the same
Since each frame of transmitted
data contains information about
where it originated and where it is
supposed to go, routers can then examine each packet and forward it
through the relevant port that corresponds to the recipient. Moreover,
since each packet is self-contained and auto-routable, packets from a single
message can travel over completely different routes to arrive at the same
destination. Routers instantaneously analyze and balance netChecklist 2.13:
work traffic and will route
Theoretical Bandwidths
packets over segments that
are currently under a lighter
Ethernet 10 Mbits/s
Ethernet 100 Mbits/s
At the receiving end, the OSI
ATM 155 Mbits/s (OC3)
model also details how to re ATM 622 Mbits/s (OC12)
assemble the individual packets
Ethernet 1000 Mbits/s
back into the original file. Each
ATM 2488 Mbits/s (OC48)
packet bears both an identifier
and sequential number that specify what part of the original file
each packet contains. The destination computer uses this information to
re-create the original file. If packets are lost during the transmission
process, TCP/IP also has methods for requesting re-transmission
of missing or corrupt packets.
Network bandwidth is defined as
Key Concept 2.14:
the rate at which information
Theoretical Bandwidth
can be transmitted per second
(bits/s). This can vary tremenIn general, actual bandwidth is
dously depending upon the
approximately one-half of theoretype of physical connection,
tical values.
switches, and medium (i.e.,
cabling versus fiber versus wireless). Theoretical bandwidth of
Ethernet, for example, varies from 10 to 1000 Mb/s. Another technology, known as asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) can support bandwidths ranging from 155 Mb/s(OC3), 622 Mb/s (OC12) to 2488 Mb/s
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It is important to recognize that there can be a substantial difference between
the values of a theoretical bandwidth and actual bandwidth. While packets
of data move at the speed of light, other factors such as quality of cabling and
efficiency of network switches contribute to network overhead that can
impede actual performance.
2.5 Client–Server Architecture
Definition 2.15: Server–Client
model is one of interdependency
between two or more computers
A server is a computer that prowhere one computer provides
vides application services or data.
data or services to the other.
A client is a computer or software
Early networks were used priapplication that receives those sermarily to backup data to a cenvices and data.
tral location during off-hours.
As technology has continued to
evolve, there has been a growing convergence of desktop computing and
network computing. In the past, maximizing computing efficiency
required application software and data to reside on the client computer.
A fat client (thick or rich client) is a host application that performs the
bulk of data processing operations for the user with minimal to no
reliance on network resources.
By leveraging the power of faster network services, real-time transfer of data
and application resources to the client desktop computer is afforded. The
client makes requests from a dedicated, powerful networked host computer
(a server) that stands ready to provide application services or data to the
client over the network.
While any computer can be configured to act as a server, most servers have
additional hardware capacity to support the increased demands of multiple
simultaneous users (i.e., faster multi-core CPUs, large memory stores, and
large hard drives).
Key Concept 2.16:
This close interrelationship of
Client–Server Architecture
multiple clients and a server is
known as client–server architecture.
In its purest form, client–server
Almost the entire structure of the
architecture concentrates on maxInternet is based upon the client–serimizing virtually all of the compuver model. This infrastructure suptational power on the server while
ports delivery of web pages over
minimizing the computational
the World Wide Web and e-mail.
requirements of the client stations.
The most basic client application is
This affords great economies of
the web browser, which interacts
scale without loss of functionality.
directly with the server to render
2 Computers and Networking
data, images, or advanced visualizations. Any application that is accessed via a
web browser over a network that is coded in a browser-supported language (i.e.,
JavaScript, Active Server Pages – ASP, Java, HTML, etc.) are called web
applications or webapps.
A thin client (lean or slim client) is
Definition 2.17:
an application that relies primarily
Thin Client
on the server for processing and
focuses principally on conveying
A software application that does
input and output between the user
not depend upon any additional
and the server.
software components and does
The term thin-client application is
not perform any processing on
often misused by industry to refer
the local host.
to any function or application that
runs within a web browser – however, this is an incomplete definition. Even if the application is used inside of
a web browser, if additional software or browser plug-ins are required or
local data processing occurs, the term hybrid-client is more appropriate.
Most PACS client viewing software that runs within a web browser is
classified as hybrid-client.
Modern PACS systems are designed to leverage this configuration where the
majority of the image management is controlled by a powerful central server
that responds to multiple simultaneous requests for image data from relatively inexpensive, less-powerful client viewing stations.
Software applications that are designed to operate principally over a
network in a client–server configuration are grouped collectively into
something known as web services. There are established profiles and
specifications that define how these services are supposed to interoperate
with service providers and service requesters. Web services differ from
web applications in that web services need not run inside a browser or be
constructed with web elements.
2.6 Database Applications
Many useful web services and web applications provide direct access to
There are a number of database
models; however, the relational
model is used most often. In the
relational model, data are
abstracted into tables with rows
and columns. Each row is an individual record and each column is a
separate attribute or field for each
record. One or more tables are
linked logically by a common
Definition 2.18:
A structured collection of data. Data
that are housed in a database are
more amenable to analysis and organization. Databases are ubiquitous
and are the essential component of
nearly every computer application
that manages information.
A. Flanders
attribute (e.g., an order number, serial number, accession number, etc.).
Databases also support an indexing mechanism that confers greater speed to
the system when accessing or updating data. Indexing comes at some cost
since it adds some processing overhead to the system.
The most common programmatic operations on a relational database
include reading or selecting records for analysis, adding records, updating
records, or deleting records.
Structured query language (SQL) is a database-specific computer language
designed to retrieve and manage data in relational database management
systems (RDMS). SQL provides a programmatic interface to databases from
virtually any development platform.
Databases are integral to the infrastructure of most business systems including information systems in Radiology. Virtually, every aspect of Radiology
services is tied to relational database functions from patient scheduling to
Pearls 2.19
Although the microprocessor is frequently personified as the ‘‘brain’’ of
the computer, it has no innate ‘‘intelligence’’ or inherent ability to make
decisions. The microprocessor’s strength is in its ability to process instructions and manipulate data at amazing speeds.
All application software runs on top of the OS that, in turn, is directly
integrated to the hardware. In general, application software cannot interact directly with the hardware; all interactions are brokered by the OS.
A computer that is accessible globally must have a unique IP address;
however, a computer that is hidden within a private network need not have
a globally unique address (it only needs to be unique on the local network). This scheme allows for conservation of unique IP addresses.
A thin client (lean or slim client) is an application that relies primarily on
the server for processing and focuses principally on conveying input and
output between the user and the server.
Software applications that are designed to operate principally over a
network in a client–server configuration are grouped collectively into
something known as web services.
Self-Assessment Questions
1. The core hardware components of a digital computer include everything
Operating system
2 Computers and Networking
2. Volatile memory is distinguished from non-volatile memory by
Poorer performance of volatile memory
Flammability of volatile memory
Inability of volatile memory to retain data with power loss
Greater expense of volatile memory
None of the above
3. Which is not true about storage?
On-line storage is readily available
Near-line storage requires human intervention
Off-line storage is not accessible by robotic devices
Data are stored on media such as tape, compact disk or DVD
None of the above
4. Which is the best statement regarding the motherboard data bus?
It connects to the keyboard
It connects to the power supply
It interconnects the components on the motherboard
It connects to the disk drive
None of the above
5. What is the fundamental distinction between software and hardware?
Hardware is a physical entity
None of the above
6. The purpose of the operating system (OS) is
To manage memory allocations
To copy files to disk
To manage the user interface
To manage computer resources
All of the above
7. Computer drivers are
a. Names for a specific type of golf club
b. Large programs that take control of the OS
c. Small programs that provide a bridge or interface between hardware and
d. Similar to computer viruses
e. None of the above
8. Low-level programming languages are (best answer possible)
A. Flanders
a. Fairly simple to learn and use
b. Are primarily used by human computer programmers to create
c. Are not as costly as high-level programming languages
d. Are used primarily by the CPU
e. All of the above
9. The most complex network switch is the
Network hub
Network router
Network bridge
They are all similar in complexity
Not listed
10. Which is true of thin-client applications?
They require a web browser to run
They do not need additional software
They require a networked server
They require an internal database
All of the above
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