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Address space is a set of elements interpreted as addresses. There are the following important characteristic features of addresses:
- Address is a unique identifier of some thing. It is said to (indirectly) represent this thing.
- Address can provide access to the represented thing. or it is assumed that there exists a procedure which takes an address as an input and then allows for getting contents of the represented thing.
- Address is a value. It can be passed and stored by copying its contents.
- Address is a virtual representative which means that it is resolved into another (lower level) address which is then used for access.
- Address is a relative identifier specified with respect to some other address from a different address space.
Most addresses satisfy these properties but there can be exceptions. For example, an address could be implemented as a thing which has its own address by violating the third property. Yet, conceptually, the address is still thought of as a value. An address could be detached from the access procedure. For example, a postal address does not have an explicitly defined procedure for accessing the represented location. Yet, it is assumed that given a postal address there is a way to find it.