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Analog Computers

  • Date Submitted: 04/25/2011 09:28 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 39.2 
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Analog-digital hybrid computers
There is an intermediate device, a 'hybrid' computer, in which an analog output is converted into digits. The information then can be sent into a standard digital computer for further computation. Because of their ease of use and because of technological breakthroughs in digital computers in the early 70s, the analog-digital hybrids were replacing the analog-only systems.
Hybrid computers are used to obtain a very accurate but not very mathematically precise 'seed' value, using an analog computer front-end, which value is then fed into a digital computer, using an iterative process to achieve the final desired degree of precision. With a three or four digit precision, highly-accurate numerical seed, the total computation time necessary to reach the desired precision is dramatically reduced, since many fewer digital iterations are required (and the analog computer reaches its result almost instantaneously). Or, for example, the analog computer might be used to solve a non-analytic differential equation problem for use at some stage of an overall computation (where precision is not very important). In any case, the hybrid computer is usually substantially faster than a digital computer, but can supply a far more precise computation than an analog computer. It is useful for real-time applications requiring such a combination (e.g., a high frequency phased-array radar or a weather system computation).
Electronic analog computers typically have front panels with numerous jacks (single-contact sockets) that permit patch cords (flexible wires with plugs at both ends) to create the interconnections which define the problem setup. In addition, there are precision high-resolution potentiometers (variable resistors) for setting up (and, when needed, varying) scale factors. In addition, there is likely to be a zero-center analog pointer-type meter for modest-accuracy voltage measurement. Stable, accurate voltage sources provide known...

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