3. Splitting the AS into Areas
OSPF allows collections of contiguous networks and hosts to be
grouped together. Such a group, together with the routers having
interfaces to any one of the included networks, is called an area.
Each area runs a separate copy of the basic link-state routing
algorithm. This means that each area has its own topological
database and corresponding graph, as explained in the previous
The topology of an area is invisible from the outside of the area.
Conversely, routers internal to a given area know nothing of the
detailed topology external to the area. This isolation of knowledge
enables the protocol to effect a marked reduction in routing traffic
as compared to treating the entire Autonomous System as a single
With the introduction of areas, it is no longer true that all
routers in the AS have an identical topological database. A router
actually has a separate topological database for each area it is
connected to. (Routers connected to multiple areas are called area
border routers). Two routers belonging to the same area have, for
that area, identical area topological databases.
Routing in the Autonomous System takes place on two levels,
depending on whether the source and destination of a packet reside
in the same area (intra-area routing is used) or different areas
(inter-area routing is used). In intra-area routing, the packet is
routed solely on information obtained within the area; no routing
information obtained from outside the area can be used. This
protects intra-area routing from the injection of bad routing
information. We discuss inter-area routing in Section 3.2.