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What is the physnet?

When configure the bridge_mappings of ovs-agent configuration. Some docs will give examples like

bridge_mappings = physnet:br-ex,vlan:br-vlan

or

bridge_mappings = provider:br-ex, vlan:br-int

From my understanding, the word provider,vlan,physnet should be network names. Like the object you created with neutron net-create

But during the time you config the bridge_mappings. Those network may not be created yet. Does it matter? Does it mean we must create networks with same name latter?