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Active networks allow their users to inject customized programs into the nodes of the network. An extreme case, in which one is most interested, replaces packets with "Capsules" - program fragments that are executed at each network router/switch they traverse. Active architectures permit a massive increase in the sophistication of the computation that is performed within the network. They will enable new applications, especially those based on application-specific multicast, information fusion, and other services that leverage network-based computation and storage. Furthermore, they will accelerate the pace of innovation by decoupling network services from the underlying hardware and allowing new services to be loaded into the infrastructure on demand.
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