Minds and Machines

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 415–438 | Cite as

Varieties of Analog and Digital Representation

  • Whit SchonbeinEmail author


The ‘received view’ of the analog–digital distinction holds that analog representations are continuous while digital representations are discrete. In this paper I first provide support for the received view by showing how it (1) emerges from the theory of computation, and (2) explains engineering practices. Second, I critically assess several recently offered alternatives, arguing that to the degree they are justified they demonstrate not that the received view is incorrect, but rather that distinct senses of the terms have become entrenched specific fields, perhaps most notably in the cognitive psychology of mental imagery.


Mental representation Analog representation Digital representation Computation 



Thanks to Corey Maley and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on an earlier draft of this paper, and to Bill Schonbein for teaching me how to use a slide rule.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA

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