Main articles: Electronics and Electronic circuit
Digital electronics represent signals by discrete bands of analog levels, rather than by a continuous range. All levels within a band represent the same signal state. Relatively small changes to the analog signal levels due to manufacturing tolerance, signal attenuation or parasitic noise do not leave the discrete envelope, and as a result are ignored by signal state sensing circuitry.
In most cases the number of these states is two, and they are represented by two voltage bands: one near a reference value (typically termed as “ground” or zero volts) and a value near the supply voltage, corresponding to the “false” (“0”) and “true” (“1”) values of the Boolean domain respectively.
Digital techniques are useful because it is easier to get an electronic device to switch into one of a number of known states than to accurately reproduce a continuous range of values.
Digital electronic circuits are usually made from large assemblies of logic gates, simple electronic representations of Boolean logic functions
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Analog issues in digital circuits
Digital circuits are made from analog components. The design must assure that the analog nature of the components doesn’t dominate the desired digital behavior. Digital systems must manage noise and timing margins, parasitic inductances and capacitances, and filter power connections.
Bad designs have intermittent problems such as “glitches”, vanishingly-fast pulses that may trigger some logic but not others, “runt pulses” that do not reach valid “threshold” voltages, or unexpected (“undecoded”) combinations of logic states.
Additionally, where clocked digital systems interface to analogue systems or systems that are driven from a different clock, the digital system can be subject to metastability where a change to the input violates the set-up time for a digital input latch. This situation will self-resolve, but will take a random time, and while it persists can result in invalid signals being propagated within the digital system for a short time.
Since digital circuits are made from analog components, digital circuits calculate more slowly than low-precision analog circuits that use a similar amount of space and power. However, the digital circuit will calculate more repeatably, because of its high noise immunity. On the other hand, in the high-precision domain (for example, where 14 or more bits of precision are needed), analog circuits require much more power and area than digital equivalents.