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An analog or analogue signal is any continuous signal for which the time varying feature (variable) of

the signal is a representation of some other time varying quantity, i.e., analogous to another time varying
signal. For example, in an analog audio signal, the instantaneous voltage of the signal varies continuously
with the pressure of the sound waves. It differs from a digital signal, in which a continuous quantity is
represented by a discrete function which can only tae on one of a finite number of values. !he term
analog signal usually refers to electrical signals" however, mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic, and other
systems may also convey analog signals.
An analog signal uses some property of the medium to convey the signal#s information. For example,
an aneroid barometer uses rotary position as the signal to convey pressure information. In an electrical
signal, the voltage, current, or frequency of the signal may be varied to represent the information.
Any information may be conveyed by an analog signal" often such a signal is a measured response to
changes in physical phenomena, such as sound, light, temperature, position, or pressure. !he physical
variable is converted to an analog signal by a transducer. For example, in sound recording, fluctuations in
air pressure (that is to say, sound) strie the diaphragm of a microphone which induces corresponding
fluctuations in the current produced by a coil in an electromagnetic microphone, or the voltage produced
by a condensor microphone. !he voltage or the current is said to be an $analog$ of the sound.
An analog signal has a theoretically infinite resolution. In practice an analog signal is sub%ect to electronic
noise and distortionintroduced by communication channels and signal processing operations, which can
progressively degrade the signal&to&noise ratio. In contrast, digital signals have a finite resolution.
'onverting an analog signal to digital form introduces a constant low&level noise calledquanti(ation
noise into the signal which determines the noise floor, but once in digital form the signal can in general be
processed or transmitted without introducing additional noise or distortion. !herefore as analog signal
processing systems become more complex, they may ultimately degrade signal resolution to such an
extent that their performance is surpassed by digital systems. !his explains the widespread use of digital
signals in preference to analog in modern technology. In analog systems, it is difficult to detect when such
degradation occurs. )owever, in digital systems, degradation can not only be detected but corrected as
, -isadvantages
. /odulation
0 1ee also
2 3eferences
!he primary disadvantage of analog signal is that any system has noise 4 i.e., random unwanted
variation. As the signal is copied and re&copied, or transmitted over long distances, or electronically
processed, the unavoidable noise introduced by each step in the signal path is additive, progressively
degrading the signal&to&noise ratio, until in extreme cases the signal can be overwhelmed. !his is
calledgeneration loss. 5oise can show up as #hiss# and intermodulation distortion in audio signals, or
$snow$ in video signals. !his degradation is impossible to recover, since there is no sure way to
distinguish the noise from the signal" amplifying the signal to recover attenuated parts of the signal
amplifies the noise (distortion6interference) as well. 1ince digital signals can be transmitted, stored and
processed without introducing noise, even if the resolution of an analog signal is higher than a
comparable digital signal, after enough processing the analog signal to noise ratio will be lower.
7lectrically, analog signal noise can be diminished by shielding, good connections, and several cable
types such as coaxial or twisted pair.
Another method of conveying an analog signal is to use modulation. In this, some base signal (e.g.,
a sinusoidal carrier signal) has one of its properties modulated8 amplitude modulation involves altering the
amplitude of a sinusoidal voltage waveform by the source information, frequency modulation changes
the frequency. 9ther techniques, such as changing the phase of the base signal also wor.
Analog circuits do not involve quantisation of information into digital format. !he concept being measured
over the circuit, whether sound, light, pressure, temperature, or an exceeded limit, remains from end to
A discrete signal or discrete-time signal is a time series consisting of a sequence of quantities. In other
words, it is a time series that is a function over a domain of integers.
:nlie a continuous&time signal, a discrete&time signal is not a function of a continuous argument"
however, it may have been obtained by sampling from a continuous&time signal, and then each value in
the sequence is called a sample. ;hen a discrete&time signal obtained by sampling a sequence
corresponding to uniformly spaced times, it has an associated sampling rate" the sampling rate is not
apparent in the data sequence, and so needs to be associated as a characteristic unit of the system.
, Acquisition
. -igital signals
0 1ee also
2 3eferences
-iscrete signals may have several origins, but can usually be classified into one of two groups8
<y acquiring values of an analog signal at constant or variable rate. !his process is
called sampling.
<y recording the number of events of a given ind over finite time periods. For example, this
could be the number of people taing a certain elevator every day.
-igital signals*edit+
-iscrete cosine waveform with frequency of => )( and a sampling rate of ,>>> samples6sec, easily satisfying the sampling
theorem for reconstruction of the original cosine function from samples.
A digital signal is a discrete&time signal for which not only the time but also the amplitude has been made
discrete" in other words, its samples tae on only values from a discrete set (a countable set that can
be mapped one&to&one to a subset of integers). If that discrete set is finite, the discrete values can be
represented with digital words of a finite width. /ost commonly, these discrete values are represented
asfixed&point words (either proportional to the waveform values orcompanded) or floating&point words.
!he process of converting a continuous&valued discrete&time signal to a digital (discrete&valued discrete&
time) signal is nown as analog&to&digital conversion. It usually proceeds by replacing each original
sample value by an approximation selected from a given discrete set (for example by truncating or
rounding, but much more sophisticated methods exist), a process nown as quanti(ation. !his process
loses information, and so discrete&valued signals are only an approximation of the converted continuous&
valued discrete&time signal, itself only an approximation of the original continuous&valued continuous&time
'ommon practical digital signals are represented as ?&bit (.=@ levels), ,@&bit (@=,=0@ levels), 0.&
bit (2.0 billion levels), and so on, though any number of quanti(ation levels is possible, not %ust powers of
A continuous signal or a continuous-time signal is a varying quantity (a signal) whose domain, which
is often time, is a continuum(e.g., a connected interval of the reals). !hat is, the function#s domain is
an uncountable set. !he function itself need not be continuous. !o contrast, a discrete time signal has
a countable domain, lie the natural numbers.
A signal of continuous amplitude and time is nown as a continuous time signal or an analog signal. !his
(a signal) will have some value at every instant of time. !he electrical signals derived in proportion with
the physical quantities such as temperature, pressure, sound etc. are generally continuous signals. !he
other examples of continuous signals are sine wave, cosine wave, triangular wave etc. 1ome of the
continuous signals.
!he signal is defined over a domain, which may or may not be finite, and there is a functional mapping
from the domain to the value of the signal. !he continuity of the time variable, in connection with the law
of density of real numbers, means that the signal value can be found at any arbitrary point in time.
A typical example of an infinite duration signal is8
A finite duration counterpart of the above signal could be8
and otherwise.
!he value of a finite (or infinite) duration signal may or may not be finite. For example,
and otherwise,
is a finite duration signal but it taes an infinite value for .
In many disciplines, the convention is that a continuous signal must always have a finite value, which
maes more sense in the case of physical signals.
For some purposes, infinite singularities are acceptable as long as the signal is integrable over any finite
interval (for example, the signal is not integrable, but is).
Any analogue signal is continuous by nature. -iscrete signals, used in digital signal processing, can be
obtained by sampling andquanti(ation of continuous signals.
'ontinuous signal may also be defined over an independent variable other than time. Another very
common independent variable is space and is particularly useful in image processing, where two space
dimensions are used.
Think of an analog waveform. A sine wave will do.
It is continuous in both the time and amplitude domains. Discrete signals are not continuous in the time
domain and digital signals are not continuous in the amplitude domain but it's not just one or the other:
Discrete signals only refer to the time-domain sampling so it is much less confusing to use the term
discrete-time signal.
It could be the sampling of an analog value at random intervals, fixed 1us intervals, or counting the
number of people exiting a door in a one-hour period, as examples.
If the discrete-time samples are also constrained by the set of sampling values, then the samples are
digital. e.g.- some value of the power of 2 so it can be represented by a binary value (quantization).
So, discrete signals can be analog samples where the values are continuous, but digital signals also have
their magnitudes pulled from a discrete set of values.
Discrete simply means there is a definite delineation between values.
Digital signals are discrete in magnitude but could be sampled at any time, which also makes it a discrete-
time signal. In fact, it is almost necessarily so. (almost)
Trent's answer is wrong. He is somewhat confusing discrete logic with discrete signals.
Binary should not be confused with digital even though it is the most canonical example.
Alphabets are digital, flag semaphores are digital, electron states/orbits are digital, etc.
A 3-way light bulb has FOUR states, not three.
Possible digital states representing a three-way light bulb:
00 (off)
01 (50W)
10 (100W)
11 (150W)
Example of possible discrete sampling of a three way light bulb over 24 hours. 1 hr intervals:
This example constitutes a discrete-time signal of digital values, which makes it a digital signal, overall.
Analog and digital signals are used to transmit information, usually
through electric signals. In both these technologies, the information, such as
any audio or video, is transformed into electric signals. The difference
between analog and digital technologies is that in analog technology,
information is translated into electric pulses of varying amplitude. In digital
technology, translation of information is into binary format (zero or one)
where each bit is representative of two distinct amplitudes.
Comparison chart</> Embed this chart
Analog Digital
Analog signal is a continuous signal
which represents physical
Digital signals are discrete time signals
generated by digital modulation.
Waves Denoted by sine waves Denoted by square waves
Uses continuous range of values to
represent information
Uses discrete or discontinuous values to
represent information
Human voice in air, analog
electronic devices.
Computers, CDs, DVDs, and other digital
electronic devices.
Analog technology records
waveforms as they are.
amples analog waveforms into a limited
set of numbers and records them.
ub!ected to deterioration by noise
during transmission and write"read
Can be noise#immune without
deterioration during transmission and
write"read cycle.
Response to
$ore li%ely to get affected reducing
&ess affected since noise response are
analog in nature
Analog Digital
Analog hardware is not fle'ible. Digital hardware is fle'ible in
Can be used in analog devices
only. (est suited for audio and
video transmission.
(est suited for Computing and digital
Applications )hermometer *Cs, *DAs
Analog signal processing can be
done in real time and consumes
less bandwidth.
)here is no guarantee that digital signal
processing can be done in real time and
consumes more bandwidth to carry out the
same information.
!emory tored in the form of wave signal tored in the form of binary bit
Analog instrument draws large
Digital instrument draw only negligible
#ost &ow cost and portable Cost is high and not easily portable
$mpedance &ow High order of +,, megaohm
Analog instruments usually have a
scale which is cramped at lower
end and give considerable
observational errors.
Digital instruments are free from
observational errors li%e paralla' and
appro'imation errors.