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In telecommunications and computer networks, multiplexing (also known as muxing) is a process where multiple analog message signals or digital data streams are combined into one signal over a shared medium. The aim is to share an expensive resource. For example, in telecommunications, several phone calls may be transferred using one wire. It originated in telegraphy, and is now widely applied in communications.

The multiplexed signal is transmitted over a communication channel, which may be a physical transmission medium. The multiplexing divides the capacity of the low-level communication channel into several higher-level logical channels, one for each message signal or data stream to be transferred. A reverse process, known as demultiplexing, can extract the original channels on the receiver side.

A device that performs the multiplexing is called a multiplexer (MUX), and a device that performs the reverse process is called a demultiplexer (DEMUX).

Inverse multiplexing (IMUX) has the opposite aim as multiplexing, namely to break one data stream into several streams, transfer them simultaneously over several communication channels, and recreate the original data stream.


Types of multiplexing

Multiplexing technologies may be divided into several types, all of which have significant variations:[1] space-division multiplexing (SDM), frequency-division multiplexing (FDM), time-division multiplexing (TDM), and code division multiplexing (CDM). Variable bit rate digital bit streams may be transferred efficiently over a fixed bandwidth channel by means of statistical multiplexing, for example packet mode communication. Packet mode communication is an asynchronous mode time-domain multiplexing which resembles time-division multiplexing.

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