Computer Networks, 5/e is appropriate for Computer Networking or Introduction to Networking courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, CIS, MIS, and Business Departments.
Tanenbaum takes a structured approach to explaining how networks work from the inside out. He starts with an explanation of the physical layer of networking, computer hardware and transmission systems; then works his way up to network applications. Tanenbaum’s in-depth application coverage includes email; the domain name system; the World Wide Web (both client- and server-side); and multimedia (including voice over IP, Internet radio video on demand, video conferencing, and streaming media. Each chapter follows a consistent approach: Tanenbaum presents key principles, then illustrates them utilizing real-world example networks that run through the entire book—the Internet, and wireless networks, including Wireless LANs, broadband wireless and Bluetooth. The Fifth Edition includes a chapter devoted exclusively to network security. The textbook is supplemented by a Solutions Manual, as well as a Website containing PowerPoint slides, art in various forms, and other tools for instruction, including a protocol simulator whereby students can develop and test their own network protocols.
While the book does cover a number of low-level protocols like ARP, ICMP, IP, and TCP/UDP, many of the chapters seem to be more focused on the history of computer networking – about how the internet came to be and why certain protocols were used, which is probably why this book is about two inches thick.
I like that the book introduced how a wire carries more than one signal at a time when communicating – something I was completely oblivious to before reading. It may have been out of the book’s scope, but I would have liked the book to explore the physical layer (PHY) a little more. For example, giving modern solutions to clock-data recovery and some signal multiplexing circuitry, which is essential for transmitting serialized data on a single wire. The book seemed to only cover generic communication on the PHY layer and glossed over everything else.
Plenty of the reviews already point out specific features of the book. I wanted to illuminate the mentality necessary to appreciate this book. In my opinion, this book is not meant to *establish interest* in networks for the average student. It is meant to present a fantastic swathe of knowledge to those *already interested*. This is why there are reviews that say its boring and dry and then reviews that say its one of the best books they had at engineering school. The appreciative reviewer likely already had interest in networking, or similar subjects, whereas the unappreciative reviewer probably wasn’t too enthused by the subject matter!
This is not a knock on the reviewers who rated it poorly, but rather an attempt to ward off those who don’t have preliminary interest from buying this book. If you already have the interest, this a fantastic reference source. For those looking for a first course in networking, I would tend to recommend Kurose and Ross over this book for its more accessible wording and topic coverage. This is still a nice one to have in the collection though.