Digital devices and computers dominate the information world around us, and digital electronics drives much of the consumer electronics market. Most of our displays, information sources, and communications all involve digital electronics. However, the sensors and amplifiers used to interrogate and investigate physical phenomena are based solidly in analog electronics, so moving the data collected by the sensor into a computer requires conversion into digital form.
Digital electronics is based on digital logic; i.e., it represents information digitally as specific combinations of 1s and 0s. There are three basic logic functions that can operate on binary numbers: AND, OR, and NOT. You might think that with such a limited array of variations, digital logic would not have much use, but you will quickly see that there are many constructs possible in the digital logic world, and they are all based on these three operations. Digital logic can be implemented in many ways by using a wide range of electronic devices, including discrete components, field programmable gate arrays, microcontrollers, and more.
This chapter provides a short overview of digital electronics and a
somewhat fast-paced look at what can be accomplished using these diverse tools. Many books on digital electronics are available, should you need more information; here we will be looking at the high points and staying aligned to areas of interest to optical engineering.
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