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feedback

<electronics> Part of a system output presented at its input. Feedback may be unintended. When used as a design feature, the output is usually transformed by passive components which attenuate it in some manner; the result is then presented at the system input.

Feedback is positive or negative, depending on the sign with which a positive change in the original input reappears after transformation. Negative feedback was invented by Black to stabilise vacuum tube amplifiers. The behaviour becomes largely a function of the feedback transformation and only minimally a function of factors such as transistor gain which are imperfectly known.

Positive feedback can lead to instability; it finds wide application in the construction of oscillators.

Feedback can be used to control a system, as in feedback control.

(1996-01-02)


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