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The Internet Protocol Address (or IP Address) is a unique address that computing devices such as personal computers, tablets, and smartphones use to identify itself and communicate with other devices in the IP network. Any device connected to the IP network must have a unique IP address within the network. An IP address is analogous to a street address or telephone number in that it is used to uniquely identify an entity.
The traditional IP Address (known as IPv4) uses a 32-bit number to represent an IP address, and it defines both network and host address. A 32-bit number is capable of providing roughly 4 billion unique numbers, and hence IPv4 addresses running out as more devices are connected to the IP network. A new version of the IP protocol (IPv6) has been invented to offer virtually limitless number of unique addresses. An IP address is written in "dotted decimal" notation, which is 4 sets of numbers separated by period each set representing 8-bit number ranging from (0-255). An example of IPv4 address is 188.8.131.52, which is the IP address previously assigned to iplocation.net.
An IPv4 address is divided into two parts: network and host address. The network address determines how many of the 32 bits are used for the network address and the remaining bits are used for the host address. The host address can further divided into subnetwork and host number.
Traditionally IP network is classified as A, B or C network. The computers identify the class by first 3 bits (A=000, B=100, C=110), while humans identify the class by first octet(8-bit) number. With scarcity of IP addresses, the class-based system has been replaced by Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR) to more efficiently allocate IP addresses.