A distance-vector routing protocol in data networks determines the best route for data packets based on distance. Distance-vector routing protocols measure the distance by the number of routers a packet has to pass. Some distance-vector protocols also take into account network latency and other factors that influence traffic on a given route. To determine the best route across a network, routers on which a distance-vector protocol is implemented exchange information with one another, usually routing tables plus hop counts for destination networks and possibly other traffic information. Distance-vector routing protocols also require that a router informs its neighbours of network topology changes periodically. [distance-vector-rp]

Link-state algorithms (also known as shortest path first algorithms) flood routing information to all nodes in the internetwork. Each router, however, sends only the portion of the routing table that describes the state of its own links. In link-state algorithms, each router builds a picture of the entire network in its routing tables. Distance vector algorithms (also known as Bellman-Ford algorithms) call for each router to send all or some portion of its routing table, but only to its neighbors. In essence, link-state algorithms send small updates everywhere, while distance vector algorithms send larger updates only to neighboring routers. Distance vector algorithms know only about their neighbors. [link-state-rp]


The Bellman–Ford algorithm is an algorithm that computes shortest paths from a single source vertex to all of the other vertices in a weighted digraph. [bellman-ford]