Skip to main content
Select Source:

Digital

DIGITAL

In the field of computing, information can be conveyed in digital or analog formats. Continuity is the differentiating factor between the two. For example, digital devices are only able to display information in finite units (10 degrees versus 10.0625 degrees), while analog devices display information that corresponds more precisely to real world phenomena. Digital watches display time in measured increments while analog watches show time unfold continuously through the circular movement of mechanical hands.

Although analog computers are used for simulating real-word conditions in a variety of fields, including nuclear power and electronics, the majority of computers, including those used for e-commerce, are digital machines. They process information in a binary format of zeroes and ones (0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 111, and so on). Accordingly, while the software programs used during e-commerceincluding Web browsers and database programsare written in high-level programming languages like C++ and Java that closely resemble human grammar, they eventually are converted to commands consisting of ones and zeroes that a computer's hardware can accept and understand. Digital computers function through four essential components: an input-output device; a control unit; main memory; and an arithmetic-logic unit.

The difference between analog and digital information can be shown in the audio recording process. Analog devices record sound waves directly onto magnetic tape, whereas digital devices take the same wave, convert it to a sequence of ones and zeroes, and store it for future use. When played back, the numbers are converted into electronic signals resembling the original sound wave. Digital information, including computer software programs, word processing documents, digital audio, and digital video, can be duplicated an infinite number of times without a loss in quality or integrity; the numeric expressions of zeroes and ones remain the same throughout time. In comparison, the quality of analog information, such as songs recorded on magnetic tape, deteriorates with successive generations as copies are made.

FURTHER READING:

"Digital." Ecommerce Webopedia, May 9, 2001. Available from e-comm.webopedia.com/TERM/d/digital.html.

"Digital." Techencyclopedia, May 9, 2001. Available from www.techweb.com/encyclopedia.

"Digital and Analog Information." The PC Guide, May 9, 2001. Available from www.pcguide.com/intro/works.

"Digital computer." Encyclopedia Britannica, May 12, 2001. Available from www.britannica.com/eb.

Massey, Howard. "Analog Vs. Digital." The International Association of Electronic Keyboard Manufacturers. May 12, 2001.

"The Mathematics of Computing." The PC Guide, May 9, 2001. Available from www.pcguide.com/intro/works.

SEE ALSO: Analog

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Digital." Gale Encyclopedia of E-Commerce. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Digital." Gale Encyclopedia of E-Commerce. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/digital

"Digital." Gale Encyclopedia of E-Commerce. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/economics/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/digital

analog-to-digital conversion

analog-to-digital conversion, the process of changing continuously varying data, such as voltage, current, or shaft rotation, into discrete digital quantities that represent the magnitude of the data compared to a standard or reference at the moment the conversion is made. There are two types of converters: electromechanical—also called shaft- or position-to-digital—and electronic. The most common use is to change analog signals into a form that can be manipulated by a digital computer, as in data communications; a modem, or data set, is a device that converts the digital signals produced by computers and terminals into analog signals that telephone circuits are designed to carry and then back to digital signals at the other end of the communication link. Similarly, in digital sound recording, audio signals are transformed into digital data, which are then recorded on a magnetic or optical disk or tape; the digitized data on the recording medium then must be changed back into the analog sound signals that can be used by a stereophonic sound system. See also digital-to-analog conversion.

See M. J. Demler, High-Speed Analog-to-Digital Conversion (1991); K. M. Daugherty, Analog-to-Digital Conversion: A Practical Approach (1995).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"analog-to-digital conversion." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"analog-to-digital conversion." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/analog-digital-conversion

"analog-to-digital conversion." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/analog-digital-conversion

digitize

digitize
1. To translate graphical information into a series of numbers suitable for processing by (digital) computer. For example, topographic detail can be taken from a map and digitized to produce a computer-generated topographic cross-section. The superimposition of an orthogonal coordinate system on to an image and the recording of the data in a machine-readable form assumes that a two-dimensional image is being analysed. It can be done three-dimensionally if stereophotographs are analysed. Fully automated systems also exist for this type of work.

2. To convert analog data into digital form by sampling the continuous record at discrete sample intervals. See also ALIASING; and SAMPLING FREQUENCY.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"digitize." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"digitize." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digitize

"digitize." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digitize

digital

digital (dij-it-ăl) adj.
1. relating to a finger or toe.

2. relating to or designating information that can be represented by a series of numbers. d. hearing aid see hearing aid. d. image an electronically produced image, such as an image produced by digital radiography, made up of pixels, each of which has numbers to represent its position and shade. See digitization. d. radiography see radiography. d. subtraction a radiological technique that enhances X-ray images, most commonly of blood vessels, in which a digitized image taken before addition of the contrast medium is subtracted by computer from the images taken after contrast injection.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"digital." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"digital." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digital

"digital." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digital

digital

dig·it·al / ˈdijitl/ • adj. 1. relating to or using signals or information represented by discrete values (digits) of a physical quantity, such as voltage or magnetic polarization, to represent arithmetic numbers or approximations to numbers from a continuum or logical expressions and variables: digital TV. Often contrasted with analog. ∎  (of a clock or watch) showing the time by means of displayed digits rather than hands or a pointer. 2. of or relating to a finger or fingers. DERIVATIVES: dig·it·al·ly adv.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"digital." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"digital." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digital-0

"digital." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digital-0

digitize

dig·i·tize / ˈdijiˌtīz/ • v. [tr.] [usu. as adj.] (digitized) convert (pictures or sound) into a digital form that can be processed by a computer. DERIVATIVES: dig·i·ti·za·tion / ˌdijitəˈzāshən/ n. dig·i·tiz·er n.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"digitize." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"digitize." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digitize

"digitize." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digitize

digital

digital Data or information expressed in terms of a few discrete quantities, often associated with a digital computer. Data is represented as a series of zeros and ones in a binary system. Digital can also refer to displaying information in numbers, as opposed to continuously varying analogue.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"digital." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"digital." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/digital

"digital." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/digital

digital

digital Operating by, responding to, or otherwise concerned with the use of digits (i.e. discrete units) to represent arithmetic numbers, approximations to numbers from a continuum, or logical expressions/variables. See also discrete and continuous systems.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"digital." A Dictionary of Computing. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"digital." A Dictionary of Computing. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/computing/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digital

"digital." A Dictionary of Computing. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/computing/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digital

digital

digital. Any one of the keys comprising the kbd. of a pf. or similar instr. For digital recording, see gramophone recordings.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"digital." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"digital." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digital

"digital." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digital

digital

digitalbattle, cattle, chattel, embattle, prattle, rattle, Seattle, tattle •fractal •cantle, covenantal, mantel, mantle, Prandtl •pastel • Fremantle • tittle-tattle •startle, stratal •Nahuatl •fettle, kettle, metal, mettle, nettle, petal, Popocatépetl, settle •dialectal, rectal •dental, gentle, mental, Oriental, parental, rental •transeptal •festal, vestal •gunmetal •antenatal, fatal, hiatal, natal, neonatal, ratel •beetle, betel, chital, decretal, fetal •blackbeetle •acquittal, belittle, brittle, committal, embrittle, it'll, kittle, little, remittal, skittle, spittle, tittle, victual, whittle •edictal, rictal •lintel, pintle, quintal •Bristol, Chrystal, crystal, pistol •varietal • coital • phenobarbital •orbital • pedestal • sagittal • vegetal •digital • skeletal • Doolittle •congenital, genital, primogenital, urogenital •capital • lickspittle • hospital • marital •entitle, mistitle, recital, requital, title, vital •subtitle • surtitle •axolotl, bottle, dottle, glottal, mottle, pottle, throttle, wattle •fontal, horizontal •hostel, intercostal, Pentecostal •greenbottle • bluebottle • Aristotle •chortle, immortal, mortal, portal •Borstal •anecdotal, sacerdotal, teetotal, total •coastal, postal •subtotal •brutal, footle, pootle, refutal, rootle, tootle •buttle, cuttle, rebuttal, scuttle, shuttle, subtle, surrebuttal •buntal, contrapuntal, frontal •crustal • societal • pivotal •hurtle, kirtle, myrtle, turtle

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"digital." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"digital." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digital

"digital." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/digital