A logic gate is an idealized or physical device implementing a Boolean function, that is, it performs a logical operation on one or more logical inputs, and produces a single logical output. Depending on the context, the term may refer to an ideal logic gate, one that has for instance zero rise time and unlimited fan-out, or it may refer to a non-ideal physical device (see Ideal and real op-amps for comparison).
Logic gates are primarily implemented using diodes or transistors acting as electronic switches, but can also be constructed using electromagnetic relays (relay logic), fluidic logic, pneumatic logic, optics, molecules, or even mechanical elements. With amplification, logic gates can be cascaded in the same way that Boolean functions can be composed, allowing the construction of a physical model of all of Boolean logic, and therefore, all of the algorithms and mathematics that can be described with Boolean logic.
Logic circuits include such devices as multiplexers, registers, arithmetic logic units (ALUs), and computer memory, all the way up through complete microprocessors, which may contain more than 100 million gates. In practice, the gates are made from field-effect transistors (FETs), particularly MOSFETs (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistors).
Compound logic gates AND-OR-Invert (AOI) and OR-AND-Invert (OAI) are often employed in circuit design because their construction using MOSFETs is simpler and more efficient than the sum of the individual gates.
History and development
The binary number system was refined by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (published in 1705) and he also established that by using the binary system, the principles of arithmetic and logic could be combined. In an 1886 letter, Charles Sanders Peirce described how logical operations could be carried out by electrical switching circuits. Eventually, vacuum tubes replaced relays for logic operations. Lee De Forest's...