What does IP stand for?

Definition and Meaning

Internet Protocol (IP) serves the principal function of enabling internet working for relaying datagrams across boundaries between networks and effectively laying the framework for the global Internet.

IP defines data packet structures that allow them to packets to be delivered from source hosts to destinations based strictly on the packet headers’ IP addresses. It also defines datagram-addressing methods listing the source and destination information. Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn introduced IP in 1974 as the pioneering Transmission Control Program’s connectionless datagram service. The other connection-oriented service was the Transmission Control Protocol, hence the Internet protocol suite being frequently referenced today as TCP/IP.

On a computer network communicating using the Internet Protocol, an Internet Protocol address (IP address) identifies any participating device with a unique numerical label. Generally speaking, the name of the device helps the network find what it wants. The IP address pins down where it is. Finally, infrastructure routes tell the network how to access it. Therefore, the IP address is both a host/network-interface identification and a means of location addressing (telling the network how to get to the device itself).

By design, an IP address is defined by the Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) system defines an IP address as a 32-bit number. Interestingly, though, the Internet’s incomprehensible growth created a problem: analysts eventually predicted that the Internet Protocol would one day deplete every numerically possible IP address. Therefore, designers in 1995 programmed IPv6, a revamped system incorporating 128-bit IP address encryption. By 1998, it was standardized as RFC 2460 as a precursor to a deployment that has been ongoing since the mid-2000s.

The managing authority governing global IP address space allocations, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), currently delegates allocation of IP address blocks unto local Internet registries to five regional Internet registries (RIRs). In their human-readable notations, IP addresses appear as, for example, 486.23.904.2 in IPv4 or 4006:er0:2:5780:0:798:3:5 in IPv6.

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