A group of bits of fixed maximum size and well-defined format that is switched and transmitted as a composite whole through a packet switching network. Any message that exceeds the maximum size is partitioned and carried as several packets.
Typically each packet contains addressing information defining the source and the destination of the packet, control information defining the type of data carried in the packet, and some form of checksum to verify that the packet has been correctly received. In many systems the packet may hold several hundred bytes and the internal structure can vary from one packet to the next. See also cell, frame.