The User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is one of the core members of the Internet Protocol Suite, the set of network protocols used for the Internet. With UDP, computer applications can send messages, in this case referred to as datagrams, to other hosts on an Internet Protocol (IP) network without requiring prior communications to set up special transmission channels or data paths. UDP is sometimes called the Universal Datagram Protocol. The protocol was designed by David P. Reed in 1980 and formally defined in RFC 768.
UDP uses a simple transmission model without implicit hand-shaking dialogues for guaranteeing reliability, ordering, or data integrity. Thus, UDP provides an unreliable service and datagrams may arrive out of order, appear duplicated, or go missing without notice. UDP assumes that error checking and correction is either not necessary or performed in the application, avoiding the overhead of such processing at the network interface level. Time-sensitive applications often use UDP because dropping packets is preferable to waiting for delayed packets, which may not be an option in a real-time system. If error correction facilities are needed at the network interface level, an application may use the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) or Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) which are designed for this purpose.
UDP's stateless nature is also useful for servers that answer small queries from huge numbers of clients. Unlike TCP, UDP is compatible with packet broadcast (sending to all on local network) and multicasting (send to all subscribers).
Common network applications that use UDP include: the Domain Name System (DNS), streaming media applications such as IPTV, Voice over IP (VoIP), Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) and many online games.