# What is the difference between a pulse and a wave?

I wanted to ask what is the difference between a pulse and a wave? According to their definitions, they are almost the same. In the websites I looked at, the difference between them was described by examples which do not reflect the difference itself.

• Very loosely speaking, the Fourier transform of a wave is "peaked" (the "ideal" wave is a plane wave), the Fourier transform of a pulse is "broad" (the ideal impulse is a Dirac delta). Plane wave and Dirac Delta are the Fourier transform of each other. Commented Feb 15 at 10:50

Both terms describe disturbances in some medium. Wave usually refers to a continuous disturbance. Like if you grab hold of spring and shake it back and forth a lot. Pulse, on the other hand, often refers to some type of one-time disturbance. Like shaking the spring only once.

Of course there will be overlap or ambiguities in these terms. I doubt there's any agreed-upon precise definition of these.

• Yes. Both a "wave" and a "pulse" obey exactly the same wave equation, so in that sense they are both waves. But in everyday use, there could be a distinction. Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 15:40

Waves is one common way in which nature expresses the flow of energy through space and time.

A pulse is just a special type of wave - a solitary wave. And solitary waves that dissipate a minor amount of energy into the medium, have low dispersion, and are able to maintain their shape over distance are called 'solitons'. A vortex ring is a good and interesting example of a solition.

Considering Fourier analysis, all types of waves, including pulses can be modeled by mathematics.

A single vibration is called pulse and continued vibration of a particle in medium is called wave

A wave is a disturbance that causes transfer of energy through space while a pulse is as a result of a single vibration sent through a medium.

A pulse refers to a disturbance that travel from one location to another location through a medium. While, A wave refers to the disturbance or variation that travels through the medium.

A pulse is actually a disturbance made up of a very large number of waves of different frequencies. When all of these waves are in phase we get the peak of the pulse. With the passage of time the various waves get out of phase and so the pulse disappears.