What Are The Advantage And Disadvantage Of Analog Computer?

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Oddman answered
Advantages
  • Parallel (and real-time) operation--many signal values can be computed simultaneously
  • Computation can be done for some applications without the requirement for transducers to convert the inputs/outputs to/from digital electronic form
  • Setup requires the programmer scale the problem for the dynamic range of the computer. This can give insight to the problem and the effects of various errors.
Disadvantages
  • Computation elements have a limited useful dynamic range, usually not much more than 120 dB, about 6 significant digits of accuracy.
  • Useful solution of problems of any size can take an inordinate amount of setup time (though modern analog computers have interfaces that make setup substantially easier than it used to be)
  • For a given size (mass) and power consumption, digital computers can solve larger problems.
  • Solutions appear in real (or scaled) time, and may be difficult to record for later use or analysis
  • The range of useful time constants is limited. Problems that have components operating on vastly different time scales are difficult to deal with accurately
My last exposure to analog computers was almost 40 years ago. Integrated circuits had barely been invented, and programming was done using patch panels and wires. A medium sized computer at my school had maybe 20 integrators, and was the size of an office desk. Problem constants were dialed in using 10-turn potentiometers with a vernier dial. A lot has changed since then.

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