analog circuit, electronic circuit that operates with currents and voltages that vary continuously with time and have no abrupt transitions between levels. Generally speaking, analog circuits are contrasted with digital circuits, which function as though currents or voltages exist only at one of a set of discrete levels, all transitions between levels being ignored. Since most physical quantities, e.g., velocity and temperature, vary continuously, as does audio, an analog circuit provides the best means of representing them. However, digital circuits are often preferred because of the ease with which their outputs can be manipulated by computers, and because digital signals are more robust and less subject to transmission errors. There are special analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog circuits to convert from one type of signal to the other.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.