At the core of the distance vector protocol is the routing algorithm. The algorithm is used to calculate the best paths and then send that information to the neighbors.

The algorithm used for the routing protocols defines the following processes:

In the animation in the figure, R1 and R2 are configured with the RIP routing protocol. The algorithm sends and receives updates. Both R1 and R2 then glean new information from the update. In this case, each router learns about a new network. The algorithm on each router makes its calculations independently and updates the routing table with the new information. When the LAN on R2 goes down, the algorithm constructs a triggered update and sends it to R1. R1 then removes the network from the routing table.

Different routing protocols use different algorithms to install routes in the routing table, send updates to neighbors, and make path determination decisions. For example: