Address Resolution

Definition of Address Resolution

Address Resolution is the process of identifying the physical hardware address, such as a Media Access Control (MAC) address, associated with a logical network address, such as an IP address. This is typically done using a protocol like the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) for IPv4 or Neighbor Discovery Protocol (NDP) for IPv6. The purpose of address resolution is to enable devices on a network to communicate efficiently by translating logical addresses to physical addresses.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Address Resolution” is:Address: əˈdrɛsResolution: ˌrɛzəˈluːʃən

Key Takeaways

  1. Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is a network protocol used for discovering a physical (MAC) address corresponding to a given IP address on a local network.
  2. ARP utilizes broadcast messages to request the MAC address of a device with a specific IP address, and caches the retrieved information in a table for future use.
  3. Time-based caches and security measures, such as ARP spoofing protection, can be used to enhance ARP performance and maintain network security.

Importance of Address Resolution

Address Resolution is an essential term in technology, particularly in computer networking, as it refers to the process of translating a device’s logical or IP address into its corresponding physical or MAC address.

This translation enables communication between devices within a network, ensuring they can accurately identify and exchange data with one another.

Address Resolution, typically accomplished through protocols like the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP), is vital for the smooth functioning of various network activities, such as establishing an internet connection, sending and receiving emails, and accessing shared resources.

Overall, Address Resolution plays a crucial role in maintaining the functioning and efficiency of interconnected systems.


Address resolution is a critical process in computer networking that ensures the seamless flow of data within a network. In modern network communication, data is transmitted as packets, and these packets must be accurately addressed to their respective destinations to maintain the efficiency and reliability of data transfer.

Address resolution serves the purpose of converting the logical addresses tied to a network device into its corresponding physical address, enabling the proper routing of communication between devices. Its primary function is to bridge the gap between the multi-layered network addressing systems – specifically, the network layer’s IP addresses and data link layer’s Media Access Control (MAC) addresses – and to guarantee that the data packets find their way to the right device within the network.

The most common method of address resolution is accomplished through a protocol known as Address Resolution Protocol (ARP). Whenever a network device wants to communicate with another device, it first checks its local ARP cache to see if the target device’s IP address is already associated with a MAC address. If not, the ARP protocol sends out a broadcast message to all devices within the network, requesting the MAC address associated with the desired IP address.

Upon receiving this message, the target device responds with its MAC address, allowing the sender to update its ARP cache and establish communication through the appropriate data link layer address. This process illustrates how address resolution, driven by the ARP, plays a vital role in facilitating smooth and accurate data exchange in network communication.

Examples of Address Resolution

Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is a telecommunications protocol used to resolve IP addresses to their associated MAC (Media Access Control) addresses. This process enables devices within local networks to communicate with each other. Here are three real-world examples of ARP’s application:

Home Networks:In a home network setting, where multiple devices (such as laptops, smartphones, and smart TVs) are connected to a local Wi-Fi router, ARP is used by these devices to obtain the MAC addresses of other devices on the network. When you stream a movie from your laptop to your smart TV, the ARP resolves the IP addresses for both devices, allowing them to communicate and transmit data.

Office Networks:In an office environment, the smooth functioning of devices and data transfer depend on the efficient operation of ARP. For instance, when an employee needs to print a document using a shared printer on the network, the ARP will help in resolving the printer’s IP address to its corresponding MAC address to establish a connection and send the document to the printer.

Internet of Things (IoT) Devices:IoT devices, such as smart thermostats, security cameras, and home automation systems, all rely on the ability to connect with other devices and services on local networks to function correctly. ARP is crucial in such settings, as it allows the devices to communicate and perform tasks by resolving their IP addresses to the relevant MAC addresses within the local network configuration.

Address Resolution FAQ

What is Address Resolution?

Address Resolution is a process that enables communication between network devices by translating logical addresses, such as IP addresses, into physical addresses, like MAC addresses. This ensures that data packets are sent to the correct destination on a network.

How does Address Resolution work?

Address Resolution typically works using the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP). When a device wants to communicate with another device on a network, it checks its ARP cache for the target’s physical address. If it’s not available, the device sends an ARP request packet to all devices on the network, asking for the target device’s physical address. Once the target responds with the physical address, it is stored in the ARP cache and used for communication.

What is the difference between Static and Dynamic Address Resolution?

Static Address Resolution involves manually assigning and mapping IP addresses to MAC addresses. This method can be time-consuming and prone to human errors. Dynamic Address Resolution, on the other hand, uses protocols like ARP to automatically map IP addresses to MAC addresses, making it more efficient and less error-prone.

Why is Address Resolution necessary?

Address Resolution is essential for successful communication in a network, as it ensures that data packets reach their intended destination. IP addresses are used in routing decisions, while MAC addresses are required to deliver data packets directly to devices on a local network. By mapping IP addresses to MAC addresses, Address Resolution allows devices to communicate effectively over a network.

What are some limitations of Address Resolution?

Some limitations of Address Resolution include the reliance on broadcast messages for ARP requests, susceptibility to ARP poisoning attacks, and the potential for ARP cache overflow. These issues can lead to network congestion, security vulnerabilities, and other performance problems. However, modern networks implement techniques like Dynamic ARP Inspection (DAI) and limiting ARP cache size to mitigate these limitations.

Related Technology Terms


  • Address Resolution Protocol (ARP)
  • IP Address
  • 3

  • MAC Address
  • 4

  • Network Interface Card (NIC)
  • 5

  • ARP Cache


Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents