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What are real integrators and differentiators? What do we want them for?

These are useful in circuits in various applications. For example if you want to make certain waveform shapes, it can be convenient to integrate or differentiate- if you want a sawtooth, say, you could integrate a square wave; if you want a square wave from a sawtooth, you would differentiate.

Integration is useful if you have a circuit in which voltage is proportional to some quantity of interest, and you want to sum that quantity. An application from my own research: I detect photons using sensors for which voltage is proportional to amount of light detected; to measure the total amount of light, I want to integrate the signal.

Similarly, differentiating is useful if you want to determine the rate of change of voltage.

Kate Scholberg 2017-02-13