Explanation of Jitter

Question: What is jitter?

Answer: This simple and intuitive definition is provided by the SONET specification:

“Jitter is defined as the short-term variations of a digital signal’s significant instants from their ideal positions in time.”

This captures the essence of jitter, but some of the individual terms (short-term, significant instants, ideal positions) need to be more specific before this definition can be unambiguously used. In all real applications, jitter has a random component, so it must be specified using statistical terms. Metrics such as mean value and standard deviation, and qualifiers such as confidence interval, must be used to establish meaningful, repeatable measurements.

Additional information about jitter, including application notes and white papers, can be found at www.tektronix.com/jitter.

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