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Layers of the OSI (Open System Interface) Model
Defining the Seven Layers of the OSI Model
Application Layer - Layer 7
Presentation Layer - Layer 6
Session Layer - Layer 5
Transport Layer - Layer 4
Network Layer - Layer 3
Data Link Layer - Layer 2
Physical Layer - Layer 1
 
Diagram of the OSI Model - Presentation Layer
The Presentation Layer
The presentation layer performs certain functions that are requested sufficiently often to warrant finding a general solution for them, rather than letting each user solve the problems. In particular, unlike all the lower layers, which are just interested in moving bits reliably from here to there, the presentation layer is concerned with the syntax and semantics of the information transmitted.

A typical example of a presentation service is encoding data in a standard, agreed upon way. Most user programs do not exchange random binary bit strings. They exchange things such as people's names, dates, amounts of money, and invoices. These items are represented as character strings, integers, floating point numbers, and data structures composed of several simpler items. Different computers have different codes for representing character strings, integers and so on. In order to make it possible for computers with different representation to communicate, the data structures to be exchanged can be defined in an abstract way, along with a standard encoding to be used "on the wire". The job of managing these abstract data structures and converting from the representation used inside the computer to the network standard representation is handled by the presentation layer.

The presentation layer is also concerned with other aspects of information representation. For example, data compression can be used here to reduce the number of bits that have to be transmitted and cryptography is frequently required for privacy and authentication.

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