# Integrator

*An integrator may also be a systems integrator.*

An **integrator** in measurement and control applications is an element whose output signal is the time integral of its input signal. It accumulates the input quantity over a defined time to produce a representative output.

Integration is an important part of many engineering and scientific applications. Mechanical integrators are the oldest application, and are still used in such as metering of water flow or electric power. Electronic analogue integrators are the basis of analog computers and charge amplifiers. Integration is also performed by digital computing algorithms.

## In signal processing circuits

*See also Integrator at op amp applications*

An electronic integrator is a form of first-order low-pass filter, which can be performed in the continuous-time (analog) domain or approximated (simulated) in the discrete-time (digital) domain. An integrator will have a low pass filtering effect but when given an offset it will accumulate a value building it until it reaches a limit of the system or overflows.

A *voltage integrator* is an electronic device performing a time integration of an electric voltage, thus measuring the total volt-second product.

A *current integrator* is an electronic device performing a time integration of an electric current, thus measuring a total electric charge. A charge amplifier is an example of current integrator. A current integrator is also used to measure the electric charge on a Faraday cup in a residual gas analyzer to measure partial pressures of gasses in a vacuum. Another application of current integration is in ion beam deposition, where the measured charge directly corresponds to the number of ions deposited on a substrate, assuming the charge state of the ions is known. The two current-carrying electrical leads must to be connected to the ion source and the substrate, closing the electric circuit which in part is given by the ion beam.

## In software

Integrators may also be software components.

In some computational physics computer simulations, such as numerical weather prediction, molecular dynamics, flight simulators, reservoir simulation, noise barrier design, architectural acoustics, and electronic circuit simulation, an integrator is a numerical method for integrating trajectories from forces (and thereby accelerations) that are only calculated at discrete time steps.

## Mechanical integrators

Mechanical integrators were key elements in the mechanical differential analyser, used to solve practical physical problems. Mechanical integration mechanisms were also used in control systems such as regulating flows or temperature in industrial processes.

## See also

- Differentiator
- Digital differential analyzer
- Fractional-order integrator
- Integrating ADC
- Lowpass filter
- Operational amplifier
- Planimeter
- Signal processing

## References

## External links

## Further reading

- Keng C. Wu (2002).
*Transistor Circuits for Spacecraft Power System*. Springer. pp. 85–87. ISBN 978-1-4020-7261-1.