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Definition: table lookup

Searching for one item in a list or matrix of data (the table). Table lookups are used in countless operations to obtain a value or set of values such as retail and wholesale prices, product descriptions, street addresses, network routes and machine addresses.

Software or Hardware
Table lookups are often performed by software routines. However, to speed up operations, especially in network routers and switches, they can be performed in hardware (see content-addressable memory). See lookup table, binary search, address resolution and routing protocol.