- A periodic disturbance which is propagated through a medium or space. electromagnetic waves, for instance, are produced by the oscillation or acceleration of an electric charge, consist of sinusoidal electric and magnetic fields which are at right angles to each other and to the direction of motion, and propagate through a vacuum at the speed of light. There are other examples, including those caused by vibrations, such as acoustic waves. Characteristics which help describe waves include amplitude, frequency, waveform, wavelength, phase, and velocity. Waves can be classified in various manners. For instance, a wave may be longitudinal versus transverse, standing versus progressive, symmetrical versus non-symmetrical, and so on. As waves propagate, they may also undergo phenomena such as diffraction, refraction, reflection, and dispersion.
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