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Homework Help: Circuit with 2 components. Series or Parallel?

  1. Sep 25, 2013 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    Say I have a circuit with only 2 components, a battery and a capacitor. Is this circuit considered series or parallel? What about a charged capacitor and an uncharged one? Does the fact I have an oscilloscope connected to the capacitor to read the voltage across it affect this answer?

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I can see arguments for either answer being valid. For the first scenario, it makes sense to say series because there is only one route for current to flow, but the potential difference across both the battery and the capacitor are the same, which is part of the definition of a parallel circuit. In the second situation I know the answer is that the two capacitors are in parallel even though there is only one path for current to follow, justifying the use of the same potential difference for the logic. Which would then make the first situation a parallel circuit. I'm just not sure if I've thought it out correctly.

    Scenario 1:
    http://ic.sunysb.edu/class/phy121pk/Lab2CapacPHY134TypoCorrectSw1fromFig1.png [Broken]
    Scenario 2:
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 25, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, for just two components whether they are taken to be in parallel or series depends upon how you view the circuit or what you're measuring. Depending upon the analysis you want to do, one point of view or the other may make life easier, but both ways are valid.
  4. Sep 25, 2013 #3
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