The product terms in the function can be thought of as representing values that are to be acted upon when they occur; thus the PLA is a form of fixed associative memory or a specialized table lookup device adapted to the situation when the truth table has sparse entries.
Since the PLA is made specific only by the interconnections, it represents a general-purpose building block that requires changes in only one or two steps of the production process to provide different functionality. PLAs can be programmed at the time of manufacture; alternatively they may be programmed by the user, and are then called field-programmable. See also programmable device.
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