Digital data handling systems have to be capable of carrying out strictly defined logical processes automatically. In order to make the design and description of such, usually very large and complicated, logical systems possible, a mathematical notation specially adapted to the needs of these switching circuits is essential. This is available today in the form of switching algebra. The terms boolean algebra, logical algebra and contact algebra are also found frequently in the literature. Although they are often used interchangeably, strictly speaking these terms have slightly different meanings. It would therefore seem in place to start this chapter with a brief sketch of the history and structure of formal logic.
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