wave function


wave function
1. a solution of a wave equation.
2. (in quantum mechanics) a mathematical function, found by solving a quantum-mechanical wave equation, that is used to predict the outcome of measurements on physical systems.

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Variable quantity that mathematically describes the wave characteristics of a particle.

It is related to the likelihood of the particle being at a given point in space at a given time, and may be thought of as an expression for the amplitude of the particle wave, though this is strictly not physically meaningful. The square of the wave function is the significant quantity, as it gives the probability for finding the particle at a given point in space and time. See also wave-particle duality.

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      in quantum mechanics, variable quantity that mathematically describes the wave characteristics of a particle. The value of the wave function of a particle at a given point of space and time is related to the likelihood of the particle's being there at the time. By analogy with waves such as those of sound, a wave function, designated by the Greek letter psi, Ψ, may be thought of as an expression for the amplitude of the particle wave (or de Broglie wave), although for such waves amplitude has no physical significance. The square of the wave function, Ψ2, however, does have physical significance: the probability of finding the particle described by a specific wave function Ψ at a given point and time is proportional to the value of Ψ2.

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Universalium. 2010.

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