What is a Digital Intermediate?

I am a little fuzzy on the concept of the digital intermediate. Is it basically a digital version of the conformed negative? Would you then film out to create IP/IN to strike prints from (assuming you were finishing on film)?

Any information would be appreciated.
Its a little dated but...


In the last year or two, the price of scanning film and recording it back to celluloid has come down so much that it is now economically feasible to bring an entire show into the digital
domain, work with it there and record it out, ready for printing in the laboratory. The term "digital intermediate" has come to be used for this process, and though it is still so new that in some cases it is being redefined with each show, the fundamental creative and technical advantages may soon make it a standard part of post-production for many features.