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An electronic circuit is composed of individual electronic components, such as resistors, transistors, capacitors, inductors and diodes, connected by conductive wires or traces through which electric current can flow. The combination of components and wires allows various simple and complex operations to be performed: signals can be amplified, computations can be performed, and data can be moved from one place to another.
Circuits can be constructed of discrete components connected by individual pieces of wire, but today it is much more common to create interconnections by photolithographic techniques on a laminated substrate (a printed circuit board or PCB) and solder the components to these interconnections to create a finished circuit. In an integrated circuit or IC, the components and interconnections are formed on the same substrate, typically a semiconductor such as silicon or (less commonly) gallium arsenide.
Breadboards, perfboards, and stripboards are common for testing new designs. They allow the designer to make quick changes to the circuit during development.
An electronic circuit can usually be categorized as an analog circuit, a digital circuit, or a mixed-signal circuit (a combination of analog circuits and digital circuits).