Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo

Key Terms

PhysicsKey Terms

alternating current
electric current whose direction alternates back and forth at regular intervals
unit for electric current; one ampere is one coulomb per second ( 1A=1C/s 1A=1C/s )
circuit diagram
schematic drawing of an electrical circuit including all circuit elements, such as resistors, capacitors, batteries, and so on
conventional current
flows in the direction that a positive charge would flow if it could move
direct current
electric current that flows in a single direction
electric circuit
physical network of paths through which electric current can flow
electric current
electric charge that is moving
electric power
rate at which electric energy is transferred in a circuit
equivalent resistor
resistance of a single resistor that is the same as the combined resistance of a group of resistors
in parallel
when a group of resistors are connected side by side, with the top ends of the resistors connected together by a wire and the bottom ends connected together by a different wire
in series
when elements in a circuit are connected one after the other in the same branch of the circuit
material that does not follow Ohm’s law
Ohm’s law
electric current is proportional to the voltage applied across a circuit or other path
material that obeys Ohm’s law
how much a circuit element opposes the passage of electric current; it appears as the constant of proportionality in Ohm’s law
circuit element that provides a known resistance
steady state
when the characteristics of a system do not change over time
Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute Texas Education Agency (TEA). The original material is available at: . Changes were made to the original material, including updates to art, structure, and other content updates.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Jan 19, 2024 Texas Education Agency (TEA). The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.