In general terms, throughput is the rate of production or the rate at which something is processed. In general terms, throughput is the rate of production or the rate at which something is processed. When used in the context of communication networks, such as Ethernet or packet radio, throughput or network throughput is the rate of successful message delivery over a communication channel. The data these messages belong to may be delivered over a physical or logical link, or it can pass through a certain network node. Throughput is usually measured in bits per second (bit/s or bps), and sometimes in data packets per second (p/s or pps) or data packets per time slot. The system throughput or aggregate throughput is the sum of the data rates that are delivered to all terminals in a network. Throughput is essentially synonymous to digital bandwidth consumption; it can be analyzed mathematically by applying the queueing theory, where the load in packets per time unit is denoted as the arrival rate (λ), and the throughput, where the drop in packets per time unit, is denoted as the departure rate (μ). The throughput of a communication system may be affected by various factors, including the limitations of underlying analog physical medium, available processing power of the system components, and end-user behavior. When various protocol overheads are taken into account, useful rate of the transferred data can be significantly lower than the maximum achievable throughput; the useful part is usually referred to as goodput. Users of telecommunications devices, systems designers, and researchers into communication theory are often interested in knowing the expected performance of a system. From a user perspective, this is often phrased as either 'which device will get my data there most effectively for my needs?', or 'which device will deliver the most data per unit cost?'. Systems designers are often interested in selecting the most effective architecture or design constraints for a system, which drive its final performance. In most cases, the benchmark of what a system is capable of, or its 'maximum performance' is what the user or designer is interested in. When examining throughput, the term maximum throughput is frequently used where end-user maximum throughput tests are discussed in detail. Maximum throughput is essentially synonymous to digital bandwidth capacity. Four different values have meaning in the context of 'maximum throughput', used in comparing the 'upper limit' conceptual performance of multiple systems. They are 'maximum theoretical throughput', 'maximum achievable throughput', and 'peak measured throughput' and 'maximum sustained throughput'. These represent different quantities and care must be taken that the same definitions are used when comparing different 'maximum throughput' values. Comparing throughput values is also dependent on each bit carrying the same amount of information. Data compression can significantly skew throughput calculations, including generating values greater than 100%. If the communication is mediated by several links in series with different bit rates, the maximum throughput of the overall link is lower than or equal to the lowest bit rate. The lowest value link in the series is referred to as the bottleneck. This number is closely related to the channel capacity of the system, and is the maximum possible quantity of data that can be transmitted under ideal circumstances. In some cases this number is reported as equal to the channel capacity, though this can be deceptive, as only non-packetized systems (asynchronous) technologies can achieve this without data compression. Maximum theoretical throughput is more accurately reported to take into account format and specification overhead with best case assumptions. This number, like the closely related term 'maximum achievable throughput' below, is primarily used as a rough calculated value, such as for determining bounds on possible performance early in a system design phase The asymptotic throughput (less formal asymptotic bandwidth) for a packet-mode communication network is the value of the maximum throughput function, when the incoming network load approaches infinity, either due to a message size as it approaches infinity, or the number of data sources is very large. As other bit rates and data bandwidths, the asymptotic throughput is measured in bits per second (bit/s), very seldom bytes per second (B/s), where 1 B/s is 8 bit/s. Decimal prefixes are used, meaning that 1 Mbit/s is 1000000 bit/s.