bout a year and a half ago we mentioned the IPocalypse, when the internet would run out of numeric addresses for new webpages. That’s because the internet previously used IPv4, which could only have 232 (4.3 trillion) addresses. It sounds like a lot, but for something which expands exponentially like the internet, it’s not so big.
Today, June 6th 2012, the world is going to begin making the switch to IPv6, which uses 128-bit addresses. That means it can have 2128 (3.4*1038) addresses. That’s 79,228,162,514,264,337,593,543,950,336 as many addresses, if you’re counting. Plenty of room to grow, isn’t it?
Consider that IPv4 has been in use since the early 80s. They made it about 30 years, which is pretty impressive. We can hope that IPv6 will last us another 30, but because of the internet’s exponential growth it might not. We’ll just have to find out!
These kinds of data problems are ones which computer scientists have been tackling since the beginning of computer science. It’s all about balancing speed (IPv4 is faster, since it is a smaller piece of data than IPv6) with capability like we see in IPv6.
And a lot of that boils down to working with numbers. Computer scientists are a sort of mathematician for this reason, but mathematicians who have the ability to program computers. Awesome