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Digital control is a branch of control theory that makes use of digital computers for acting as controllers for a system. Here, a computer is responsible for the implementation of the control algorithm. A digital control system is also capable of taking the form of a microcontroller to an application-specific integrated circuit and even to a desktop computer, largely depending on the need. Usually, a digital control system consists of an A/D conversion for converting analog input to digital format for the machine, D/A conversion for converting digital output to a form that can be the input for a plant, and a digital controller in the form of a computer, microcontroller or a programmable logic controller.
Reliable, inexpensive, miniaturized computers are capable of taking over the functions of a controller. This is largely done because it is cost effective, since hardware is replaced by software. Complex functions are also much easier to implement, and logging and monitoring is easy with computers. Digital controllers are also capable of taking many forms, such as that of a microprocessor board, in the case of a computer, a microcontroller, or a programmable logic controller. Digital control systems are flexible, inexpensive, scalable and adaptable. Therefore, they are widely used in multiple control system implementations.