Additional Math Pages & Resources

Friday, March 26, 2010

Digital Digital Digital (repeat 677,000,000 times)

Digital is a favorite word nowadays.
  • My Google search turned up 677 million results.
  • My Bing search turned up 424 million results.
What is digital? What does digital mean? 
  • Does it mean anything with a battery? 
  • Or anything that is programmed
  • Or anything that older people don't understand?
The English word digital comes from a Latin word digitus meaning digit or finger. As in counting on your fingers rather than drawing with your finger in the sand.  As a part of speech, digital is an adjective. It modifies some other word. Here's one definition:  

A digital system is a data technology that uses discrete (discontinuous) values whereas non-digital (or analog) systems use a continuous range of values to represent information.

That doesn't help very much, does it? And since digital has been an English word for 400 years, it's certainly not the only definition. Here are some examples of digital communication that even old folks will understand:
  • smoke signals
  • Morse code - SOS
  • semaphore (optical telegraph) signals
  • Braille
  • ship flags
  • hand stuck out the window to signal a turn, etc.
Many newer forms of communication are generally described as digital, because
  • they have an electronic, programmatic basis
  • they indicate values using digits (numbers, not fingers!) rather than a needle or graph
  • they can be read or manipulated or stored by a computer rather than the "naked eye"
Facebook is one of those new digital communication mechanisms, and we at Excel Math have a Facebook account in addition to this blog and our website. Come on over and see us sometime.

NOTE - When your first name is EXCEL and a large outfit in Redmond, Washington uses EXCEL for one of its favorite products, there are sometimes difficulties! Even if you have been around since the beginning of the digital era ...

You might think digital means lightweight, portable, inexpensive, etc. For users that's often true, not necessarily for the techies who have to make everything work back in the home office. Here's a nice little digital communication system ... for the captain of a ship who wants to talk to people on shore without everyone else listening in.