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Concept# Network synthesis

Summary

Network synthesis is a design technique for linear electrical circuits. Synthesis starts from a prescribed impedance function of frequency or frequency response and then determines the possible networks that will produce the required response. The technique is to be compared to network analysis in which the response (or other behaviour) of a given circuit is calculated. Prior to network synthesis, only network analysis was available, but this requires that one already knows what form of circuit is to be analysed. There is no guarantee that the chosen circuit will be the closest possible match to the desired response, nor that the circuit is the simplest possible. Network synthesis directly addresses both these issues. Network synthesis has historically been concerned with synthesising passive networks, but is not limited to such circuits.
The field was founded by Wilhelm Cauer after reading Ronald M. Foster's 1924 paper A reactance theorem. Foster's theorem provided a method of synthesising LC circuits with arbitrary number of elements by a partial fraction expansion of the impedance function. Cauer extended Foster's method to RC and RL circuits, found new synthesis methods, and methods that could synthesise a general RLC circuit. Other important advances before World War II are due to Otto Brune and Sidney Darlington. In the 1940s Raoul Bott and Richard Duffin published a synthesis technique that did not require transformers in the general case (the elimination of which had been troubling researchers for some time). In the 1950s, a great deal of effort was put into the question of minimising the number of elements required in a synthesis, but with only limited success. Little was done in the field until the 2000s when the issue of minimisation again became an active area of research, but as of 2023, is still an unsolved problem.
A primary application of network synthesis is the design of network synthesis filters but this is not its only application. Amongst others are impedance matching networks, time-delay networks, directional couplers, and equalisation.

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