Byte stream

Byte stream

In computer science, a byte stream is a bit stream, in which data bits are grouped into units, called bytes.

In computer networking the term octet stream is sometimes used to refer to the same thing; it emphasizes the use of bytes having the length of 8 bits, known as octets.

Formally, a byte stream is a certain abstraction, a communication channel down which one entity can send a sequence of bytes to the entity on the other end. Such channel is often bidirectional, but sometimes unidirectional. In almost all instances, the channel has the property that it is reliable; i.e. exactly the same bytes emerge, in exactly the same order, at the other end.

Less formally, one can think of it as a conduit between the two entities; one entity can insert bytes into the conduit, and the other entity then receives them. This conduit can be ephemeral or persistent.


On most operating systems, including Unix-like and Windows, access of any file from a process is an example of a byte stream. In particular each process has three standard streams, that are examples of unidirectional byte streams. A pipe mechanism is often used to connect them between processes, to enable process-to-process byte streams.

One well-known example of a communication protocol which provides a byte-stream service to its clients is the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) of the Internet protocol suite, which provides a bidirectional byte stream.

The Internet media type for an arbitrary byte stream is application/octet-stream. Other media types are defined for byte streams in well-known formats.

See also

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Reliable byte stream — A reliable byte stream is a common service paradigm in computer networking; it refers to a byte stream in which the bytes which emerge from the communication channel at the recipient are exactly the same, and in the exact same order, as they were …   Wikipedia

  • Stream Control Transmission Protocol — In computer networking, the Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) is a Transport Layer protocol, serving in a similar role as the popular protocols TCP and UDP. Indeed, it provides some of the same service features of both, ensuring… …   Wikipedia

  • Stream (computing) — In computing, the term stream is used in a number of ways, in all cases referring to a succession of data elements made available over time.*On Unix and related systems based on the C programming language, a stream is a source or sink of data,… …   Wikipedia

  • Byte order mark — (BOM) Unicode символ, используемый для индикации порядка байтов текстового файла. Его кодовый символ U+FEFF. По спецификации его использование не является обязательным, однако если BOM используется, то он должен быть установлен в начале… …   Википедия

  • Stream Control Transmission Protocol — (SCTP) es un protocolo de comunicación de capa de transporte que fue definido por el grupo SIGTRAN de IETF en el año 2000. El protocolo está especificado en la RFC 2960, y la RFC 3286 brinda una introducción al mismo. Como protocolo de transporte …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Byte-order mark — A byte order mark (BOM) is the Unicode character at code point U+FEFF ( zero width no break space ) when that character is used to denote the endianness of a string of UCS/Unicode characters encoded in UTF 16 or UTF 32. It is conventionally used… …   Wikipedia

  • Stream cipher — The operation of the keystream generator in A5/1, a LFSR based stream cipher used to encrypt mobile phone conversations. In cryptography, a stream cipher is a symmetric key cipher where plaintext digits are combined with a pseudorandom cipher… …   Wikipedia

  • Byte — A byte (pronounced bite , IPAEng|baɪt) is the basic unit of measurement of information storage in computer science. In many computer architectures it is a unit of memory addressing, most often consisting of eight bits. A byte is one of the basic… …   Wikipedia

  • Stream Control Transmission Protocol — Pile de protocoles 7.  Application 6.  Présentation 5.  Session 4.  T …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Byte Order Mark — Marque d ordre des octets Pour les articles homonymes, voir BOM. Unicode Jeux de caractères UCS (ISO/CEI 10646) ISO 646, ASCII ISO 8859 1 WGL4 UniHan Équivalences normalisées NFC …   Wikipédia en Français