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Boolean Algebra


Mathematical rules are based on the defining limits we place on the particular numerical quantities dealt with. When we say that 1 + 1 = 2 or 3 + 4 = 7, we are implying the use of integer quantities: the same types of numbers we all learned to count in elementary education. What most people assume to be self-evident rules of arithmetic -- valid at all times and for all purposes -- actually depend on what we define a number to be.

For instance, when calculating quantities in AC circuits, we find that the "real" number quantities which served us so well in DC circuit analysis are inadequate for the task of representing AC quantities. We know that voltages add when connected in series, but we also know that it is possible to connect a 3-volt AC source in series with a 4-volt AC source and end up with 5 volts total voltage (3 + 4 = 5)! Does this mean the inviolable and self-evident rules of arithmetic have been violated? No, it just means that the rules of "real" numbers do not apply to the kinds of quantities encountered in AC circuits, where every variable has both a magnitude and a phase. Consequently, we must use a different kind of numerical quantity, or object, for AC circuits (complex numbers, rather than real numbers), and along with this different system of numbers comes a different set of rules telling us how they relate to one another.



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