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In high school we have always been taught that wave looks figure $A$ and from there we have learnt amplitude,frequency etc of waves. But in a lot of books, waves are represented by the second figure and are often told waves look like this. I know that the circumstances are wavefronts here but they are not waves. That's why i can't think of wavefront and wave as the same. How can i think of these $2$ samely?

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  • $\begingroup$ Both work for water waves but a light wave is made of photons, coherent in speed, frequency and phase. $\endgroup$ Apr 24 at 17:39

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Consider throwing a stone in a pond. From the point where it hits the surface, circular waves propagate radially outwards. Now imagine looking at it from the top and marking all the "hills" or all the "troughs" – you end up with something like your Figure B.

Now imagine looking at the surface of the water from one side, like a vertical slice of it. The surface will look like your Figure A.

Both are correct, they are just different perspectives of the same thing.

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Briefly, definition of wavefront is the set of the points that have same phase. Hence, wavefront in your figure 2 is just connection of creast(hill) or trough(valley) of wave. It is anologous with equipotential concept.

Wave function in 2D (or 3D) is multi-variables function, so such wavefront description is trivial. Also, it has benefit to understand behavior of waves easily. (like as plane or spherical wave)

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These are representations of the same thing, where the lines are wave fronts aka have the same phase (or same height) enter image description here

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