Difference Between Analog and Digital

By: | Updated: Jul-19, 2021

Most likely, you have already encountered these words in the context of something digital or analog. While analog and digital are not entirely different, there are many other important differences that you should know about before going through this article.

The definition of analogue and digital is very simple. While the former is a form of technology that uses a continuous signal to represent data, the latter is a form of technology that uses a discrete signal to represent data. Analog signals can take both continuous and discrete values, whereas digital signals can only take discrete values.

At first glance, it might seem that analog and digital are similar. However, there are many important differences between them. In this article, we will discuss those differences and how they affect us in our everyday lives.

Summary Table

Analog Digital
The waveform of an analog signal is continuous, and can have any value between 0 and 1 The waveform of a digital signal is discrete, and each value can only be represented by either one or zero
Analog terms are commonly used in engineering to describe things that are analog in nature. Digital terms are commonly used in computer science to describe things that are digital in nature.
Analog computers are used in traffic lights, electronic clocks, industrial control systems, medical equipment, etc. A digital computer is used in calculators, calculators with a printer or LCD display, word processors and desktop publishing programs, telephone switching systems and cellular telephones.

Definitions:

Difference Between Analog and Digital

Before we move on to the difference between analog and digital, let us first learn what the two are. Let’s take a look at the definitions, the similarities, and the features of these two types of technology.

What is Analog?

Analog refers to the method of converting a continuous quantity to a discrete quantity by using an analog scale. In order to convert an analog signal, you must apply a voltage to the source that can be translated into an equivalent current value through Ohm’s Law. The values are typically converted to binary digits, which are represented by ones and zeros, where the value in between these two points is considered a middle point. The values between the extremes of one and zero are considered a step. This type of conversion is also known as logarithmic conversion or exponential conversion. This type of conversion takes place when you are dealing with linear signals like voltage or current, which means that the values will not be related to each other like in digital signals, where there will be no gaps between numbers. The resulting value is only an approximation of the original analog signal and can be quite inaccurate as well.

What is Digital?

Digital refers to converting a continuous quantity into a discrete quantity by using a digital scale where all numbers are defined as either ones or zeros. There is no intermediary middle point and all conversions take place from one extreme (zero) to another (one). A digital signal is also known as a number system, where the value of each signal is represented by a number. This type of conversion can be applied to both analog and digital signals, and can be quite accurate when compared to analog conversion. This type of conversion takes place when you are dealing with continuous signals like voltage or current, which means that the values will not be related to each other like in digital signals, where there will be no gaps between numbers. The resulting value is also known as an approximation of the original analog signal and can be quite inaccurate as well.

What are the Similarities Between Analog and Digital?

  1. Analog and Digital can both represent a discrete quantity using a continuous signal or number system. For example, voltage (or current) is a continuous quantity that can be converted into discrete quantities by using an analog scale. Similarly, binary numbers are defined as ones or zeros by using a digital scale or number system.
  2. Both Analog and Digital can also represent continuous quantities by using step values in between the extremes of one and zero defined in binary form. For example, voltage (or current) is also defined as step values in between 0V (or 0A) and 5V (or 0A). These values are also known as digital numbers.
  3. Analog and Digital can both be represented by discrete quantities using an approximate analog value. For example, voltage (or current) is represented by an approximate analog value of 0V (or 0A) and 5V (or 0A). These values are also known as digital numbers.
  4. Analog and Digital both have the ability to convert continuous signals into discrete signals using a logarithmic conversion process or exponential conversion process. In this case, the intermediate values will not be related to each other like in digital signals, where there will be no gaps between numbers. This type of conversion is also known as logarithmic conversion or exponential conversion. The resulting value is only an approximation of the original analog signal and can be quite inaccurate as well.

What are the Differences Between Analog and Digital?

Now that we have learned what analog and digital are, let us look at the differences between these two types of technology.

  1. Signals

A digital signal is a continuous signal that can be broken down into smaller intervals of time, and each interval can be represented by either a one or a zero. For example, the waveform of an analog signal is continuous, and can have any value between 0 and 1. But the waveform of a digital signal is discrete, and each value can only be represented by either one or zero.

  1. Interfaces

Analog signals are used to transmit information over networks such as cable TV networks, local area networks (LANs), and wide area networks (WANs). Analog signals are also used in various forms of entertainment such as video games, audio systems, televisions, video recorders, etc. An analog interface converts analog signals into digital signals for transmission over a network or storage on a storage device. A typical example would be an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) that converts an analog voltage to a digital number for transmission over the network or storage on a storage device.

  1. Terminology

Analog terms are commonly used in engineering to describe things that are analog in nature. For example, the term oscillation refers to the process of periodically changing a signal level, while a waveform is a description of the shape of a signal. In this context, a “waveform” refers to an analog waveform.

On the other hand, digital terms are commonly used in computer science to describe things that are digital in nature. For example, binary means “having only two states” and an instruction is an instruction that can be either executed or not executed depending on its input. In this context, “binary” refers to the number system where 0s and 1s are used to represent any number or set of numbers between 0 and 255.

  1. Computers

Analog computers use a continuous analog signal to compute values, while digital computers use discrete digital signals. Analog computers are used in a variety of applications including traffic lights, electronic clocks, industrial control systems, medical equipment, etc. A digital computer is used in the following applications: calculators, calculators with a printer or LCD display, word processors and desktop publishing programs, telephone switching systems and cellular telephones.

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