An IP address is a 32-bit number written in dotted decimal notation: four 8-bit fields (octets) converted from binary to decimal numbers, separated by dots. The first part of an IP address identifies the network on which the host resides, while the second part identifies the particular host on the given network. The network number field is called the network prefix. All hosts on a given network share the same network prefix but must have a unique host number. In classful IP, the class of the address determines the boundary between the network prefix and the host number.
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