The hysteresis error of a measuring instrument is defined as the maximum difference between the value detected by the transducer when a given value of the input quantity is applied by means of increasing inputs and the same value obtained by means of decreasing inputs. In other words, the hysteresis error is given by the maximum difference between the value measured in an increasing direction and the corresponding value measured in a decreasing direction.
Hysteresis represents the historical dependence of physical systems. If you push on something, it will yield: when you release, does it spring back completely? If it doesn’t, it exhibits hysteresis, in a broad sense. The term is most commonly applied to magnetic materials: when the external field containing the signal from the microphone is turned off, the little magnetic domains in the tape don’t return to their original configuration (by design, otherwise your record of the music would disappear!) Hysteresis occurs in many other systems: when you apply a large force to your fork while cutting through a tough piece of meat, it doesn’t always return to its original shape: the shape of the fork depends on its history.
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