The TCP interfaces on one side to user or application processes and on the other side to a lower level protocol such as Internet Protocol.
The interface between an application process and the TCP is illustrated in reasonable detail. This interface consists of a set of calls much like the calls an operating system provides to an application process for manipulating files. For example, there are calls to open and close connections and to send and receive data on established connections. It is also expected that the TCP can asynchronously communicate with application programs. Although considerable freedom is permitted to TCP implementors to design interfaces which are appropriate to a particular operating system environment, a minimum functionality is required at the TCP/user interface for any valid implementation.
The interface between TCP and lower level protocol is essentially unspecified except that it is assumed there is a mechanism whereby the two levels can asynchronously pass information to each other. Typically, one expects the lower level protocol to specify this interface. TCP is designed to work in a very general environment of interconnected networks. The lower level protocol which is assumed throughout this document is the Internet Protocol .