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This introduction comes from the operating manual for a circuit simulation program called Electronics Workbench. Using a graphic interface, it allows the user to draw a circuit schematic and then have the computer analyze that circuit, displaying the results in graphic form. It is a very valuable analysis tool, but it has its shortcomings. For one, it and other graphic programs like it tend to be unreliable when analyzing complex circuits, as the translation from picture to computer code is not quite the exact science we would want it to be (yet). Secondly, due to its graphics requirements, it tends to need a significant amount of computational "horsepower" to run, and a computer operating system that supports graphics. Thirdly, these graphic programs can be costly.

However, underneath the graphics skin of Electronics Workbench lies a robust (and free!) program called SPICE, which analyzes a circuit based on a text-file description of the circuit's components and connections. What the user pays for with Electronics Workbench and other graphic circuit analysis programs is the convenient "point and click" interface, while SPICE does the actual mathematical analysis.



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