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An analog computer is a computer which is used to process analog data. Analog computers store data in a continuous form of physical quantities and perform calculations with the help of measures. It is quite different from the digital computer, which makes use of symbolic numbers to represent results. Analog computers are excellent for situations which require data to be measured directly without converting into numerals or codes. Analog computers, although available and used in industrial and scientific applications like control systems and aircraft, have been largely replaced by digital computers due to the wide range of complexities involved.
Analog computers were the earliest computer machines developed and were the among the most complicated machines for analog computation and process control. Analog data is not discrete, but rather is of a continuous nature. Examples of such data are pressure, temperature, voltage, speed and weight. An analog computer makes use of continuous values and not discrete values. Because of this, processes with an analog computer cannot be repeated for exact equivalent results. Unlike digital computers, analog computers are immune to quantization noise. Some of the common computing elements found in analog computers are function generators, integrators, comparators and multipliers. Depending on the application, other specialized components can also be used. Programming on an analog computer involves transformation of the problematic equations into the analog computer circuit.
There are certain advantages associated with analog computers. Real-time operation and simultaneous computation is possible with the help of analog computers. Analog computers can also provide the insight of the problems and errors in case of analog issues for users.