A method of network data transmission, in which small blocks of data, or packets, are transmitted over a channel which, for the duration of the packet's transmission, is dedicated to that packet alone and is not interrupted to transmit other packets. This strategy is used in transmitting data over the Internet and often over a LAN, and it capitalizes on the increase in efficiency that is obtained when there are many paths available and there is a large volume of traffic over these paths.
A communications paradigm in which packets (messages or fragments of messages) are individually routed between nodes, with no previously established communication path. Packets are routed to their destination through the most expedient route (as determined by some routing algorithm). Not all packets travelling between the same two hosts, even those from a single message, will necessarily follow the same route.
The destination computer reassembles the packets into their appropriate sequence. Packet switching is used to optimise the use of the bandwidth available in a network and to minimise the latency. X.25 is an international standard packet switching network.
Also called connectionless. Opposite of circuit switched or connection-oriented. See also virtual circuit, wormhole routing.