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Forums > Social Chat > Is the internet infinitly big?

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Twister Fire Starter ridin on a tratter
Location: Bristol/Exeter UK
Member Since: 27th Oct 2003
Total posts: 156
Posted:Is the internet infinitly big?

We were discussing this in Maths today. I'm interested in your views!


still can't believe it's not butter
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Member Since: 14th Nov 2001
Total posts: 6979
Posted:the constraints of 32 bit numbers limiting (and i use the term limiting loosely here) maximum IP addresses apply to Internet Protocol Version 4. Apparently the IP v.6 will be even more inifite for our needs (a limiteless IP v.6 is a major part of the plot for the series 'Serial Experiment Lain' - the kind of anime that make small children watching burst into tears.)

Laugh Often, Smile Much, Post lolcats Always

Matthew B-M
Matthew B-M

Lemon-Aware Devilstick-wielding Operative
Location: East London Wilds
Member Since: 9th Jul 2003
Total posts: 605
Posted:and the geek can't resist jumping in again.

Firstly 2^128 is large, but still not infinite.

IPv4 uses 32 bits for addressing, IPv6 uses 128 bits. That gives it 2^128 addresses.

HOWEVER. In IPv6, every ethernet network is a /64 meaning that there can only ever be 2^64 ethernets. Even handoff ranges (what are normally /30s or on modern systems /31s) are actually /64s in IPv6, because they may turn out to be real networks later on. The problem with IPv6 is that there are the strict aggregation rules (in order to keep the routing table smallish, the current IPv4 full-view is about 138kroutes), which means that there will be huge chunks of space wasted.

Even then IPv6 gives us more than enough addresses, but with the above, if you're going to have multiple ways of connecting, then you'll end up with multiple /64s for your various ethernets.

Luv 'n' Lemons
purity :: clarity :: balance


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Warwickshire
Member Since: 27th Aug 2002
Total posts: 3136
Posted:i guess the 2 questions you need to ask are

a) is there such a thing as infitity?
b) the current internet implementation won't scale well upto solar system size very well. Of course, we'll get new IP versions (to include more addresses), new TCP versions (to include new ports), new forms of routing, probably a new DNS system. But, at what point does the internet that we know and love it as today become something else? Is it when we move to IPv6? Is it when we run out of meaningful name combinations in domain names and switch to a new name translation system? Is it when webpages get replaced by a new technology? Is it when we start using video calls/messages instead of email?

Is the internet infinitly big was the original question. The thread has gone off at geek tangents since, but the answer to the original question is no, in it's current form its pretty damn big, but infinite no. A lot of people using the internet only see the OSI top layer, have no understanding of network protocols let alone transport protocols, physical layer etc. It just magically all happens. You load a webpage up. It works or it doesn't. If it doesn't you swear at bill gates and aol. If you're really cool you download Netscape. To those people who are wondering exactly what the internet is, no is the answer. If we want a really long geek debate about scalability of the internet to interplanetary level, then i'm in

Location: St. Paul, MN USA
Member Since: 20th Dec 2001
Total posts: 174
Posted:Damn...you had me right up to the ethernet stuff.

I knew I found a home here at HoP!

I can't believe I'm actually missing my college calc classes right this minute...

Without further guilding the lily and with no more ado, I bid you farewell and sweet dreams...


Location: London
Member Since: 11th Oct 2002
Total posts: 3149

and here i was thinking that the 2 questions you have to ask yourself are

a)do you feel lucky? well do you, punk?


b)why? why? oh god please why?

"Switching between different kinds of chuu chuu sometimes gives this "urgh wtf?" effect because it's giving people the phi phenomenon."

Location: St. Paul, MN USA
Member Since: 20th Dec 2001
Total posts: 174

Without further guilding the lily and with no more ado, I bid you farewell and sweet dreams...


big and good and broken
Location: lunn dunn, yoo kay
Member Since: 29th Aug 2002
Total posts: 7330
Posted:thinking of infinity as "a really big number" doesn't work.
in that form it is a useless concept - there are fundamental differences between an infinity and a big number as discussed above.

if it was just a really big number, we could use infinities in algebra just as we would any other number.
in reality, we cannot do this and so the maths above is how we deal with infinities and subsequently deal with when we encounter them in a maths or physics problem.

"i see you at 'dis cafe.
i come to 'dis cafe quite a lot myself.
they do porridge."
- tim westwood

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