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 link-state domain.
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.