Definition of Pixel
Article ID: ART157534 | Date published: 06/09/2015 | Date last updated: 01/25/2016


Definition of Pixel




Pixels are generally thought of as the smallest complete sample of an image. The definition is highly context sensitive. For example, we can speak of pixels in a visible image (e.g. a printed page) or pixels carried by one or more electronic signal(s), or represented by one or more digital value(s), or pixels on a display device, or pixels in a digital camera (photosensor elements). This list is not exhaustive and depending on context there are several synonyms which are accurate in particular contexts, e.g. pel, sample, bytes, bits, dots, spots, superset, triad, stripe set, window, etc. We can also speak of pixels in the abstract, in particular when using pixels as a measure of resolution, e.g. 2400 pixels per inch or 640 pixels per line. Dots is often used to mean pixels, especially by computer sales and marketing people, and gives rise to the abbreviation DPI or dots per inch.

The colour samples that form a digitized image (such as a JPG file used on a web page) are also called pixels. Depending on how a computer displays an image, these may not be in one-to-one correspondence with screen pixels. In areas where the distinction is important, the dots in the image file may be called texels.

In computer programming, an image composed of pixels is known as a bitmapped image or a raster image. The word raster originates from analogue television technology. Bitmapped images are used to encode digital video and to produce computer-generated art.