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Stands for "Open Shortest Path First." OSPF is a method of finding the shortest path from one router to another in a local area network (LAN). As long as a network is IP-based, the OSPF algorithm will calculate the most efficient way for data to be transmitted.

If there are several routers on a network, OSPF builds a table (or topography) of the router connections. When data is sent from one location to another, the OSPF algorithm compares the available options and chooses the most efficient way for the data to be sent. This limits unnecessary delays in data transmission and prevents infinite loops.

First Published: 2006
Last Updated: November 30, 1999

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