What is the difference in definition between the word "quantize" and "discrete"?

For example, the Oxford definitions are:


... restrict the number of possible values of (a quantity) or states of (a system) so that certain variables can assume only certain discrete magnitudes


Individually separate and distinct

Is it that "quantize" must refer to values while "discrete" does not?

  • There is a word derived from discrete that has in some but not all situations a meaning similar to quantize, namely discretize. It is commonly used in the mathematical and physical literature, but has not yet made it into the popular dictionaries. It can be found here, though: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/discretize – painfulenglish Oct 30 '14 at 20:59
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    Why was this post down voted? – joshlk Oct 31 '14 at 9:29

To answer your question, the difference is that quantization (infinitive is to quantize) is a verb. It is the act of organizing into discrete values. Discrete is an adjective. It describes the state that the values are in after they are quantized.

  • I suppose quantize could be turned into an adjective synonymous with discrete: quantized. – Barmar Oct 30 '14 at 19:51
  • @Barmar: I suppose it could. But usually quantized means that something was originally continuous, and has been made discrete. The adjective discrete carries no such connotation. – Peter Shor Oct 30 '14 at 21:13

In electronics, quantization refers to a process in which analog signal is converted to digital one by assigning values based on electrical current strength measurement being in a specific range. Values obtained in this process are discrete, because they are individually separate and distinct, as in definition.

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