A network socket is an internal endpoint for sending or receiving data within a node on a computer network. Concretely, it is a representation of this endpoint in networking software (protocol stack), such as an entry in a table (listing communication protocol, destination, status, etc.), and is a form of system resource. The term socket is analogous to physical female connectors, communication between two nodes through a channel being visualized as a cable with two male connectors plugging into sockets at each node. Similarly, the term port (another term for a female connector) is used for external endpoints at a node, and the term socket is also used for an internal endpoint of local inter-process communication (IPC) (not over a network). However, the analogy is limited, as network communication need not be one-to-one or have a dedicated communication channel.
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