Suppose a data exchange process, where two objects send/receive data to/from each other. Here, even though the type of data itself is the same, the type of objects can be various. For example, in a computer network packet exchange can occur not only between two desktop computers, but also between two mobile devices, or even a server and a sensor.

What I'm searching for is a generic term to describe these 'objects'. I considered the terms like 'actors' as these objects are the conductors of the exchange process, but I felt a bit awkward as it gives an impression of a 'living' thing. Could anyone recommend an appropriate term in this situation?


2 Answers 2


In the context of a network (esp. computer network), they are called nodes.

In the context of signal transmission it is more customary to speak of transmitter and receiver, but nodes can also be used - for example:

Examples of communications channels include:

  1. A connection between initiating and terminating nodes of a circuit.


  • I'm curious - do you know in what contexts it is common to use the term "node" in this way (i.e. in computer networking)? My impression is that it is fairly uncommon in lay usage. For instance, the Google search "node -js site:arstechnica.com" seems to turn up few relevant results (with the exception of Tor nodes).
    – Evan
    May 17, 2017 at 13:42
  • @Evan I am not sure in what circumstances would nodes on a computer network be discussed as such in lay usage. May 17, 2017 at 13:59

In the abstract, you would use terms like (from Wikipedia):

  • Signal/Message: the information being transmitted
  • Sender/Transmitter: the actor passing the information
  • Channel: the medium over which the information is passed
  • Receiver: the actor receiving the message

There are more terms if you want to add noise, encryption, etc.

In the specific case where you're trying to describe a computer network, you could probably just use the word "devices."

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