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Concept# Amplitude

Summary

The amplitude of a periodic variable is a measure of its change in a single period (such as time or spatial period). The amplitude of a non-periodic signal is its magnitude compared with a reference value. There are various definitions of amplitude (see below), which are all functions of the magnitude of the differences between the variable's extreme values. In older texts, the phase of a periodic function is sometimes called the amplitude.
For symmetric periodic waves, like sine waves, square waves or triangle waves peak amplitude and semi amplitude are the same.
In audio system measurements, telecommunications and others where the measurand is a signal that swings above and below a reference value but is not sinusoidal, peak amplitude is often used. If the reference is zero, this is the maximum absolute value of the signal; if the reference is a mean value (DC component), the peak amplitude is the maximum absolute value of the difference from that reference.
Semi-amplitude means half of the peak-to-peak amplitude.
The majority of scientific literature employs the term amplitude or peak amplitude to mean semi-amplitude.
It is the most widely used measure of orbital wobble in astronomy and the measurement of small radial velocity semi-amplitudes of nearby stars is important in the search for exoplanets (see Doppler spectroscopy).
In general, the use of peak amplitude is simple and unambiguous only for symmetric periodic waves, like a sine wave, a square wave, or a triangle wave. For an asymmetric wave (periodic pulses in one direction, for example), the peak amplitude becomes ambiguous. This is because the value is different depending on whether the maximum positive signal is measured relative to the mean, the maximum negative signal is measured relative to the mean, or the maximum positive signal is measured relative to the maximum negative signal (the peak-to-peak amplitude) and then divided by two (the semi-amplitude). In electrical engineering, the usual solution to this ambiguity is to measure the amplitude from a defined reference potential (such as ground or 0 V).

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Sine wave

A sine wave, sinusoidal wave, or sinusoid is a mathematical curve defined in terms of the sine trigonometric function, of which it is the graph. It is a type of continuous wave and also a smooth periodic function. It occurs often in mathematics, as well as in physics, engineering, signal processing and many other fields. Its most basic form as a function of time (t) is: where: A, amplitude, the peak deviation of the function from zero. f, ordinary frequency, the number of oscillations (cycles) that occur each second of time.

Phase (waves)

In physics and mathematics, the phase (symbol φ or φ) of a wave or other periodic function of some real variable (such as time) is an angle-like quantity representing the fraction of the cycle covered up to . It is expressed in such a scale that it varies by one full turn as the variable goes through each period (and goes through each complete cycle). It may be measured in any angular unit such as degrees or radians, thus increasing by 360° or as the variable completes a full period.

Amplitude

The amplitude of a periodic variable is a measure of its change in a single period (such as time or spatial period). The amplitude of a non-periodic signal is its magnitude compared with a reference value. There are various definitions of amplitude (see below), which are all functions of the magnitude of the differences between the variable's extreme values. In older texts, the phase of a periodic function is sometimes called the amplitude. For symmetric periodic waves, like sine waves, square waves or triangle waves peak amplitude and semi amplitude are the same.

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