LAN: Local Area Network
WAN: Wide Area Network
Andrew S. Tanenbaum's Computer Networks specifies LAN on page 16 as:
The book defines WANs on page 19 asLocal Area Networks, generally called LANs, are privately-owned networks within a single building or campus of up to a few kilometers in size. They are widely used to connect personal computers computers and workstations in company offices and factories to share resources (e.g. printers) and exchange information. LANs are destinguished from other kinds of networks by three characteristics:
- Their size
- Their transmission technology
- Their Topology.
LANs are restricted in size, which means that the worst-case transmission time is bounded and known in advance. Knowing this bound makes it possible to use certain kinds of designs that would not otherwise be possible. It also simplifies network management.Since they didn't ask for the hardware controling it, I wont let you in on how the switching and transmission lines are located in the two.A Wide Area Network or WAN, spans a large geographical area, often a country or continent. It contains a collection of machines intended for running user (i.e. application) programs. We will follow traditional usage and call these machines hosts. The term end system is sometimes also used in the literature. The hosts are connected by a communication subnet, or just subnet for short. The job of the subnet is to carry messages from hosts to hosts, just as the telephone system carries words from speaker to listener. By seperating the pure communication aspects of the network (the subnet) from the application aspects (the hosts), the complete network edsign is greately simplified.
For a real treat, they should also have asked what part in this a MAN or Metropolitan Area Network played, but thats for the reader to find out, altho it's almost evident hidden in the name itself.