Pulse width modulation is a technique for reducing the amount of power delivered to a DC motor. Instead of reducing the voltage operating the motor (which would reduce its power), the motor's power supply is rapidly switched on and off. The percentage of time that the power is on determines the percentage of full operating power that is accomplished. This type of motor speed control is easier to implement with digital circuitry.
To see how PWM has been implemented practically see the project named RPM meter under the electronics section or click here.