An autonomous system (AS) is a collection of connected Internet Protocol (IP) routing prefixes under the control of one or more network operators on behalf of a single administrative entity or domain, that presents a common and clearly defined routing policy to the Internet. Each AS is assigned an autonomous system number (ASN), for use in Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing. Autonomous System Numbers are assigned to Local Internet Registries (LIRs) and end user organizations by their respective Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), which in turn receive blocks of ASNs for reassignment from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). The IANA also maintains a registry of ASNs which are reserved for private use (and should therefore not be announced to the global Internet).

Originally, the definition required control by a single entity, typically an Internet service provider (ISP) or a very large organization with independent connections to multiple networks, that adhered to a single and clearly defined routing policy.In March 1996, the newer definition came into use because multiple organizations can run BGP using private AS numbers to an ISP that connects all those organizations to the Internet. Even though there may be multiple autonomous systems supported by the ISP, the Internet only sees the routing policy of the ISP. That ISP must have an officially registered ASN.

Until 2007, AS numbers were defined as 16-bit integers, which allowed for a maximum of 65,536 assignments. Since then,the IANA has begun to also assign 32-bit AS numbers to regional Internet registry (RIRs). These numbers are written preferably as simple integers, in a notation referred to as "asplain",ranging from 0 to 4,294,967,295 (hexadecimal 0xFFFF FFFF). Or, alternatively, in the form called "asdot" which looks like x.y, where x and y are 16-bit numbers. Numbers of the form 0.y are exactly the old 16-bit AS numbers.

The first and last ASNs of the original 16-bit integers (0 and 65,535) and the last ASN of the 32-bit numbers (4,294,967,295) are reserved and should not be used by operators; AS0 is used by all five RIRs to invalidate unallocated space. ASNs 64,496 to 64,511 of the original 16-bit range and 65,536 to 65,551 of the 32-bit range are reserved for use in documentation. ASNs 64,512 to 65,534 of the original 16-bit AS range, and 4,200,000,000 to 4,294,967,294 of the 32-bit range are reserved for Private Use.

The number of unique autonomous networks in the routing system of the Internet exceeded 5,000 in 1999, 30,000 in late 2008, 35,000 in mid-2010, 42,000 in late 2012, 54,000 in mid-2016 and 60,000 in early 2018. The number of allocated ASNs exceeded 100,000 as of March 2021.

AS Number AS Organization Country Code
AS1 LVLT-1 US (United States)
AS2 UDEL-DCN US (United States)
AS3 MIT-GATEWAYS US (United States)
AS4 ISI-AS US (United States)
AS5 SYMBOLICS US (United States)
AS6 BULL-HN US (United States)
AS7 The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory EU
AS8 RICE-AS US (United States)
AS9 CMU-ROUTER US (United States)
AS10 CSNET-EXT-AS US (United States)
AS12 NYU-DOMAIN US (United States)
AS13 DNIC-AS-00013 US (United States)
AS14 COLUMBIA-GW US (United States)
AS16 LBL US (United States)
AS17 PURDUE US (United States)
AS18 UTEXAS US (United States)
AS19 LEIDOS-AS US (United States)
AS20 UR US (United States)
AS21 RAND US (United States)
AS22 DNIC-AS-00022 US (United States)
AS24 AS24 US (United States)
AS25 UCB US (United States)
AS26 CORNELL US (United States)
AS27 UMDNET US (United States)
AS29 YALE-AS US (United States)
AS30 SRI-AICNET US (United States)
AS31 CIT US (United States)
AS32 STANFORD US (United States)
AS33 HP-33 US (United States)
AS34 UDELNET US (United States)
AS35 MITRE-AS-1 US (United States)
AS37 DNIC-AS-00037 US (United States)
AS38 UIUC US (United States)
AS42 WOODYNET-1 US (United States)
AS43 BNL-AS US (United States)
AS44 S1-DOMAIN US (United States)
AS45 LLL-TIS-AS US (United States)
AS46 RUTGERS US (United States)
AS47 USC-AS US (United States)
AS48 DNIC-AS-00048 US (United States)
AS50 ORNL-MSRNET US (United States)
AS51 DNIC-AS-00051 US (United States)
AS52 UCLA US (United States)
AS55 UPENN US (United States)
AS56 DNIC-AS-00056 US (United States)
AS57 NL-GIGAPOP US (United States)
AS59 WISC-MADISON-AS US (United States)
AS62 CONE US (United States)
AS63 LL-MI US (United States)