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What Is a Loose Coupling?

By Troy Holmes
Updated May 16, 2024
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Proper systems design is an important aspect of large computer systems. It requires a deep understanding of hardware, software, and network protocols. Loose coupling is an architecture approach that allows independent computer components to share information. This is used in software and hardware design to make it easier for computer specialists to manage equipment.

One of the best examples of loose coupling design is the universal serial bus (USB) port on computers. This universal port allows multiple types of hardware to connect to a computer using a standard protocol. The USB has become a standard appliance and is often used by printers, cameras, and many other external computer devices.

The key benefit of loose coupling is hardware and software flexibility. The computer systems used by organizations quickly become an array of interchangeable components that can work together to create a large set of business components.

Loosely coupled computer software is made up of many interchangeable components. This approach to system design is widely used by large companies that utilize the Internet. Some example include Internet games, social networking, and chat rooms. These individual components are made available to the general public as separate modules that can be used as needed.

Service oriented architecture is good example of loose coupling design in practice. This approach requires developers to build small agile components that are specialized for a specific task. These components are loosely coupled to external programs by using a standard protocol or generic interface.

This architecture is common in mobile application development because it uses small flexible components that require fewer computer resources. Most modern cell phones use this architecture for games and other programs. Consumers can select the modules they want and can easily add new features to mobile devices.

Another benefit of loose coupling design is the software-agnostic nature of the system. An application that is loosely coupled can work on multiple types of hardware and operating systems. This makes it more expandable and flexible. It also makes the software available to a larger group of potential customers.

Loose coupling does have a few disadvantages. A program that is loosely coupled is more generic and modular with several interconnected components. While this type of program is extremely flexible, it is typically slower than a tightly coupled system. When designing a program, it is important to determine when loose coupling should be used.

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