Electrical network
An electrical network is an interconnection of electrical components (e.g., batteries, resistors, inductors, capacitors, switches, transistors) or a model of such an interconnection, consisting of electrical elements (e.g., voltage sources, current sources, resistances, inductances, capacitances). An electrical circuit is a network consisting of a closed loop, giving a return path for the current. Linear electrical networks, a special type consisting only of sources (voltage or current), linear lumped elements (resistors, capacitors, inductors), and linear distributed elements (transmission lines), have the property that signals are linearly superimposable. They are thus more easily analyzed, using powerful frequency domain methods such as Laplace transforms, to determine DC response, AC response, and transient response.
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A resistive circuit is a circuit containing only resistors and ideal current and voltage sources. Analysis of resistive circuits is less complicated than analysis of circuits containing capacitors and inductors. If the sources are constant (DC) sources, the result is a DC circuit. The effective resistance and current distribution properties of arbitrary resistor networks can be modeled in terms of their graph measures and geometrical properties.[1]
A network that contains active electronic components is known as an electronic circuit. Such networks are generally nonlinear and require more complex design and analysis tools.
Classification
By passivity
An active network contains at least one voltage source or current source that can supply energy to the network indefinitely. A passive network does not contain an active source.
An active network contains one or more sources of electromotive force. Practical examples of such sources include a battery or a generator. Active elements can inject power to the circuit, provide power gain, and control the current flow within the circuit.
Passive networks do not contain any sources of electromotive force. They consist of passive elements like resistors and capacitors.
By linearity
A network is linear if its signals obey the principle of superposition; otherwise it is nonlinear. Passive networks are generally taken to be linear, but there are exceptions. For instance, an inductor with an iron core can be driven into saturation if driven with a large enough current. In this region, the behaviour of the inductor is very nonlinear.
By lumpiness
Discrete passive components (resistors, capacitors and inductors) are called lumped elements because all of their, respectively, resistance, capacitance and inductance is assumed to be located ("lumped") at one place. This design philosophy is called the lumpedelement model and networks so designed are called lumpedelement circuits. This is the conventional approach to circuit design. At high enough frequencies, or for long enough circuits (such as power transmission lines), the lumped assumption no longer holds because there is a significant fraction of a wavelength across the component dimensions. A new design model is needed for such cases called the distributedelement model. Networks designed to this model are called distributedelement circuits.
A distributedelement circuit that includes some lumped components is called a semilumped design. An example of a semilumped circuit is the combline filter.
Classification of sources
Sources can be classified as independent sources and dependent sources.
Independent
An ideal independent source maintains the same voltage or current regardless of the other elements present in the circuit. Its value is either constant (DC) or sinusoidal (AC). The strength of voltage or current is not changed by any variation in the connected network.
Dependent
Dependent sources depend upon a particular element of the circuit for delivering the power or voltage or current depending upon the type of source it is.
Applying electrical laws
A number of electrical laws apply to all linear resistive networks. These include:
 Kirchhoff's current law: The sum of all currents entering a node is equal to the sum of all currents leaving the node.
 Kirchhoff's voltage law: The directed sum of the electrical potential differences around a loop must be zero.
 Ohm's law: The voltage across a resistor is equal to the product of the resistance and the current flowing through it.
 Norton's theorem: Any network of voltage or current sources and resistors is electrically equivalent to an ideal current source in parallel with a single resistor.
 Thévenin's theorem: Any network of voltage or current sources and resistors is electrically equivalent to a single voltage source in series with a single resistor.
 Superposition theorem: In a linear network with several independent sources, the response in a particular branch when all the sources are acting simultaneously is equal to the linear sum of individual responses calculated by taking one independent source at a time.
Applying these laws results in a set of simultaneous equations that can be solved either algebraically or numerically. The laws can generally be extended to networks containing reactances. They cannot be used in networks that contain nonlinear or timevarying components.
Design methods
Linear network analysis  

Elements  
Components  
Series and parallel circuits  
 
Impedance transforms  
Generator theorems  Network theorems 
Network analysis methods  
Twoport parameters  
To design any electrical circuit, either analog or digital, electrical engineers need to be able to predict the voltages and currents at all places within the circuit. Simple linear circuits can be analyzed by hand using complex number theory. In more complex cases the circuit may be analyzed with specialized computer programs or estimation techniques such as the piecewiselinear model.
Circuit simulation software, such as HSPICE (an analog circuit simulator),[2] and languages such as VHDLAMS and verilogAMS allow engineers to design circuits without the time, cost and risk of error involved in building circuit prototypes.
Network simulation software
More complex circuits can be analyzed numerically with software such as SPICE or GNUCAP, or symbolically using software such as SapWin.
Linearization around operating point
When faced with a new circuit, the software first tries to find a steady state solution, that is, one where all nodes conform to Kirchhoff's current law and the voltages across and through each element of the circuit conform to the voltage/current equations governing that element.
Once the steady state solution is found, the operating points of each element in the circuit are known. For a small signal analysis, every nonlinear element can be linearized around its operation point to obtain the smallsignal estimate of the voltages and currents. This is an application of Ohm's Law. The resulting linear circuit matrix can be solved with Gaussian elimination.
Piecewiselinear approximation
Software such as the PLECS interface to Simulink uses piecewiselinear approximation of the equations governing the elements of a circuit. The circuit is treated as a completely linear network of ideal diodes. Every time a diode switches from on to off or vice versa, the configuration of the linear network changes. Adding more detail to the approximation of equations increases the accuracy of the simulation, but also increases its running time.
See also
 Digital circuit
 Ground (electricity)
 Impedance
 Load
 Memristor
 Opencircuit voltage
 Short circuit
 Voltage drop
Representation
Design and analysis methodologies
 Network analysis (electrical circuits)
 Mathematical methods in electronics
 Superposition theorem
 Topology (electronics)
 Mesh analysis
 Prototype filter
Measurement
 Network analyzer (electrical)
 Network analyzer (AC power)
 Continuity test
Analogies
 Hydraulic analogy
 Mechanical–electrical analogies
 Impedance analogy (Maxwell analogy)
 Mobility analogy (Firestone analogy)
 Through and across analogy (Trent analogy)
Specific topologies
References
 Kumar, Ankush; Vidhyadhiraja, N. S.; Kulkarni, G. U . (2017). "Current distribution in conducting nanowire networks". Journal of Applied Physics. 122 (4): 045101. Bibcode:2017JAP...122d5101K. doi:10.1063/1.4985792.
 "HSPICE" (PDF). HSpice. Stanford University, Electrical Engineering Department. 1999.