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Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is a transport layer protocol that provides a connection-oriented data stream service with guaranteed, in-order delivery on top of the underlying packet-oriented, unreliable IP layer. TCP is referred to as a connection-oriented protocol. This is opposed to UDP, which offers a relatively bare-bones unreliable all-or-nothing delivery of discrete packets and referred to as a connection-less protocol.

There is more information at the Wikipedia article on TCP.

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