The word discrete comes from the latin word discretus which means separate. It is used with different meanings in different contexts:
- In perception a discrete entity is something that can be percepted individually and not as connected to, or part of something else.
- In mathematics a discrete set is a countable or countably infinite, with a cardinality less than or equal to (See Aleph). (Including integers.) Mathematical study of discrete sets is the area of inquiry for discrete mathematics, but also important for combinatorics, probability theory and statistical theory.
- In mathematics, a discrete space is a topological space in which all sets are open.
- In electrical engineering, discrete means having separate electronic components, such as individual resistors and inductors — the opposite of integrated circuitry.
- In audio engineering, discrete means having separate and independent channels of audio, as opposed to multiplexed stereo or quadrophonic, or other multi-channel sound.