Digital describes any system based on discontinuous data or events. Computers are digital machines because at their most basic level they can distinguish between just two values, 0 and 1, or off and on. There is no simple way to represent all the values in between, such as 0.25. All data that a computer processes must be encoded digitally, as a series of zeroes and ones.
The opposite of digital is analog. A typical analog device is a clock in which the hands move continuously around the face. Such a clock is capable of indicating every possible time of day. In contrast, a digital clock is capable of representing only a finite number of times (every tenth of a second, for example).
The term Digital Technologies is used to describe the u se of digital resources to effectively find,analyses, create, communicate, and use information in a digital context. This encompasses the use of web 2.0 tools, digital media tools, programming tools and software applications.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.
An advantage of digital circuits when compared to analog circuits is that signals represented digitally can be transmitted without degradation due to noise. For example, a continuous audio signal transmitted as a sequence of 1s and 0s, can be reconstructed without error, provided the noise picked up in transmission is not enough to prevent identification of the 1s and 0s. An hour of music can be stored on a compact disc using about 6 billion binary digits.
In a digital system, a more precise representation of a signal can be obtained by using more binary digits to represent it. While this requires more digital circuits to process the signals, each digit is handled by the same kind of hardware. In an analog system, additional resolution requires fundamental improvements in the linearity and noise characteristics of each step of the signal chain.
Computer-controlled digital systems can be controlled by software, allowing new functions to be added without changing hardware. Often this can be done outside of the factory by updating the product’s software. So, the product’s design errors can be corrected after the product is in a customer’s hands.
Information storage can be easier in digital systems than in analog ones. The noise-immunity of digital systems permits data to be stored and retrieved without degradation. In an analog system, noise from aging and wear degrade the information stored. In a digital system, as long as the total noise is below a certain level, the information can be recovered perfectly.