Digital filter

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In electronics, computer science and mathematics, a digital filter is a system that performs mathematical operations on a sampled, discrete-time signal to reduce or enhance certain aspects of that signal. This is in contrast to the other major type of electronic filter, the analog filter, which is an electronic circuit operating on continuous-time analog signals. An analog signal may be processed by a digital filter by first being digitized and represented as a sequence of numbers, then manipulated mathematically, and then reconstructed as a new analog signal (see digital signal processing). In an analog filter, the input signal is "directly" manipulated by the circuit.

A digital filter system usually consists of an analog-to-digital converter to sample the input signal, followed by a microprocessor and some peripheral components such as memory to store data and filter coefficients etc. Finally a digital-to-analog converter to complete the output stage. Program Instructions (software) running on the microprocessor implement the digital filter by performing the necessary mathematical operations on the numbers received from the ADC. In some high performance applications, an FPGA or ASIC is used instead of a general purpose microprocessor, or a specialized DSP with specific paralleled architecture for expediting operations such as filtering.

Digital filters may be more expensive than an equivalent analog filter due to their increased complexity, but they make practical many designs that are impractical or impossible as analog filters. Since digital filters use a sampling process and discrete-time processing, they experience latency (the difference in time between the input and the response), which is almost irrelevant in analog filters.

Digital filters are commonplace and an essential element of everyday electronics such as radios, cellphones, and stereo receivers.

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