In basic diagrams, the standard symbols for the circuit components are arranged in correspondence with the operational principle of the device, as well as to facilitate the reading of the diagram. In design diagrams, all or some of the components are represented as equivalent circuits; in such diagrams, sources of electromotive force, current, resistance, inductance, capacitance, and so on are assumed to be components with lumped parameters.
Often, though, they are used for other purposes, such as to route signals in logic circuits. Transistors can be considered the workhorses of modern electronic circuits, and consequently many types of transistors have been developed, among which the most widely used are the bipolar junction transistor (BJT), the junction field-effect transistor (JFET), and the metal oxide silicon field-effect transistor (MOSFET).
Electronic circuits are also classified as analog or digital. Analog circuits work with signals that span a full range of values of voltages and currents, while digital circuits work with signals that are at prescribed levels to represent numerical digits. Analog signals generally are used for continuous-time processes, while digital ones most frequently occur where transistions are synchronized via a clock. However, there are situations where it is desirable to transfer between these two classes of signals, that is, where analog signals are needed to excite a digital circuit or where a digital signal is needed to excite an analog circuit. For example, it may be desired to feed a biomedically recorded signal, such as an electrocardiogram into a digital computer, or it may be desired to feed a digital computer output into an analog circuit, such as a temperature controller. For such cases, there are special electronic circuits, called analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters.
Circuit diagrams show connectors between components and the locations of connectors and lead-ins; such diagrams also illustrate methods of laying out, mounting, and fastening conductors, cables, and piping. Others show external connections to other articles; such diagrams are used for the installation and operation of complex units. Diagrams showing the principal parts of a complex and the interconnections between subassemblies when the complex is installed and operated are designed primarily to give a general representation of the complex. Layout diagrams show the relative spatial arrangement of components.