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Dotted Decimal Notation

Definition of Dotted Decimal Notation

Dotted decimal notation is a method of writing numbers that is particularly used to express IP addresses in the Internet Protocol (IP). In this system, a 32-bit number, which constitutes an IP address, is divided into four 8-bit fields called octets. Each octet is represented by a decimal number ranging from 0 to 255, and these numbers are separated by dots. For example, an IP address like is a representation in dotted decimal notation, where each number between the dots corresponds to an octet.

Origin of Dotted Decimal Notation

The origin of dotted decimal notation can be traced back to the early development of the internet, specifically with the inception of the Internet Protocol (IP) in the 1970s. This notation was developed as a user-friendly way to represent the binary numbers used by computers. Binary numbers, while perfect for computers, are long and difficult for humans to read and remember. Dotted decimal notation provided a simpler and more intuitive way to represent these binary numbers for easier human interaction with computer networks.

Practical Application of Dotted Decimal Notation

A key application of dotted decimal notation is in the configuration and setup of computer networks. For instance, network administrators use IP addresses in this format to assign specific addresses to computers, define network ranges, set up routers, and configure firewalls. This notation is fundamental in almost every activity that involves network setup and troubleshooting, enabling clear and precise identification and management of devices within a network.

Benefits of Dotted Decimal Notation

The primary benefit of using dotted decimal notation is its simplicity and readability compared to binary or hexadecimal representations. It simplifies the process of configuring and managing networked devices for humans. This notation makes it easier to identify and differentiate between various network segments and devices. Moreover, it aids in troubleshooting network issues by allowing network administrators to quickly and accurately pinpoint specific devices or network segments. The widespread use of this notation also ensures a universal standard for addressing devices across different networks and systems.


Dotted decimal notation is used for IPv4 addresses. IPv6 addresses, which are longer, use a different format called hexadecimal colon notation.

In a single network, each device must have a unique IP address. However, private IP addresses in dotted decimal format can be reused in different private networks.

Subnetting, which divides a network into smaller networks, often uses dotted decimal notation to define the subnet mask. This mask determines the network and host portions of an IP address in a network.


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