Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital (i.e. computer-readable) format. The result is the representation of an object, image, sound, document or signal (usually an analog signal) obtained by generating a series of numbers that describe a discrete set of points or samples. The result is called digital representation or, more specifically, a digital image, for the object, and digital form, for the signal. In modern practice, the digitized data is in the form of binary numbers, which facilitates processing by digital computers and other operations, but, digitizing simply means the conversion of analog source material into a numerical format; the decimal or any other number system can be used instead.
Digitization is of crucial importance to data processing, storage and transmission, because it “allows information of all kinds in all formats to be carried with the same efficiency and also intermingled”. Though analog data is typically more stable, digital data, has the potential to be more easily shared and accessed and, in theory, can be propagated indefinitely, without generation loss, provided it is migrated to new, stable formats as needed. This potential has led to institutional digitization projects designed to improve access and the rapid growth of the digital preservation field.