what is phase difference and how to visualize it? i am able to understand it pretty well in sinusoidal waves but please tell me what it is in other type of waves like plane waves,spherical waves,etc.

• When you say "sinusoidal waves" I assume you mean in shape, like a wave on the surface of water? Plane and spherical waves can have a sinusoidal intensity profile, which is analogous to the sinusoidal height profile of a water wave. Jan 27, 2016 at 12:32
• but sir,what is the physical significance of phase difference? Jan 27, 2016 at 16:21
• for example A means the maximum displacement of the particle,T means the time after which the wave pattern repeats,wavelength is the length after which wave pattern repeats,so what is the physical significance of phase difference?or what is the definition of phase difference? Jan 27, 2016 at 16:21
• my textbook often contains statements like" these 2 waves have constant phase difference"(most refers to spherical sound waves),but iam unable to visualize it,what does it mean?please help Jan 27, 2016 at 16:22

As Asher commented, when a wave is described as sinusoidal, or triangular, or square, that's its amplitude profile. When a wave is described as plane or spherical, that's the spatial profile perpendicular to the direction of propagation. For example, a plane wave of sinusoidal amplitude will have the same phase, i.e. amplitude at all $(x,y)$ coordinates for a given $z$ (direction of propagation). If the amplitude is maximum at $z_0$, then the amplitude will be a peak at $z_1$ which is one-quarter wavelength away.
• "Constant phase difference" suggests they have the same wavelength and propagation speed, so they can be parametrized as $A_1 = sin(kt+\phi_1)$ and $A_2=sin(kt+\phi_2)$ . If you graph the two waveforms and shift one waveform by the relative phase difference, the peaks and valleys will be in the same locations. Jan 27, 2016 at 16:32