Computer theorists often refer to idealized analog computers as real computers (because they operate on the set of real numbers). Digital computers, by contrast, must first quantize the signal into a finite number of values, and so can only work with the rational number set (or, with an approximation of irrational numbers).
These idealized analog computers may in theory solve problems that are intractable on digital computers; however as mentioned, in reality, analog computers are far from attaining this ideal, largely because of noise minimization problems. In theory, ambient noise is limited by quantum noise (caused by the quantum movements of ions). Ambient noise may be severely reduced – but never to zero – by using cryogenically cooled parametric amplifiers. Moreover, given unlimited time and memory, the (ideal) digital computer may also solve real number problems.
Read more about this topic: Analog Computer
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“The things of this world reveal their essential absurdity when they are put in the Venetian context. In the unreal realm of the canals, as in a Swiftian Lilliput, the real world, with its contrivances, appears as a vast folly.”
—Mary McCarthy (19121989)