Stateless protocol definition
A stateless protocol is a communication method where each message is independent and doesn’t rely on past history. It’s “stateless” because it doesn’t remember the previous “state” of communication — like having a completely new conversation where you don’t recall what was said before. Stateless protocols are simple and can be great for various online activities — from shopping to firing a quick email. The opposite of a stateless protocol is a stateful protocol.
See also: computer system
Stateless vs. stateful protocol
- Stateless protocol has no memory of previous interactions. This communication method is simple to maintain and highly scalable.
- Stateful protocol stores information about previous messages and expects a response, making ongoing sessions and transactions possible. However, it is more complex than a stateless protocol — and not as scalable.
Stateless protocols in everyday situations
- Web browsing. When you visit web pages in your browser, each request for a webpage or resource (like images) is a separate interaction. Your browser doesn’t remember your previous visits to different websites while fetching the current page.
- Email sending. When you send an email, the email server treats each message as a standalone task. It doesn’t remember previous emails you’ve sent when delivering the current one.
- Phone calls. Traditional phone calls often operate in a stateless manner. Each conversation you have is separate from previous ones, and the phone system doesn’t keep a history of your past calls.
- Postal mail. Mailing letters is a stateless process. Each letter you send is processed individually, without the postal service remembering past letters you’ve mailed.
- Text messaging. When you send text messages on your phone, each message you send is treated as a distinct message. Your messaging app doesn’t maintain a conversation history between messages.
- Online search. When you perform an online search using a search engine like Google, each search query you make is treated as an isolated event. The search engine doesn’t remember your previous searches when responding to the current one.