The domain name system (DNS) was created in the early 1980's in order to simplify navigation on the Internet. Before then, each computer on the Internet was identified by a complex set of numbers called an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Now, instead of typing in a complex set of numbers, we type in text-based domain names and the computer takes us to the corresponding IP address. The system is global; to maintain reliability, it has to make sure that no two IP addresses or corresponding domain names are the same. The DNS is thus of critical importance to the way the Internet operates: if it fails, websites and email addresses cannot be located.

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