# What is the Difference Between Periodic and Progressive Waves

The key difference between periodic and progressive waves is that periodic waves do not transfer energy from one place to another, whereas progressive waves can transfer energy from one place to another.

A periodic wave is a wave with a continuous repeating pattern that determines its wavelength and frequency. A progressive wave is a type of wave that travels continuously in a medium in the same direction without changing its amplitude.

### CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Periodic Waves
3. What are Progressive Waves
4. Periodic vs Progressive Waves in Tabular Form
5. Summary – Periodic vs Progressive Waves

## What are Periodic Waves?

A periodic wave is a wave with a repeating continuous pattern that determines its wavelength and frequency. We can characterize it by its amplitude, period, and frequency. Moreover, the amplitude of the wave is directly related to the energy of a wave, and it is referred to as the highest and lowest point of a wave. The term period refers to the time required to complete the cycle of a waveform. The frequency describes the number of cycles per second of time.

Figure 01: A Common Periodic Wave

In other words, periodic waves are the waves produced by continuous and rhythmic disturbances in a medium. Typically, there are two types of periodic waves as longitudinal and transverse waves in nature. As a common example, the oscillating mass-spring system that executes simple harmonic motion is a periodic wave generator.

## What are Progressive Waves?

A progressive wave is a type of wave that travels continuously in a medium in the same direction without a change in its amplitude. This is also known as travelling wave. A common example of a progressive wave is when a stone is dropping into a pond of water, causing waves to travel from the point of disturbance till they reach the shore, such as water waves. There are two major types of these waves: transverse and longitudinal progressive waves.

Figure 02: A Graph Indicating the Difference Between a Linear Wave and a Progressive Wave

Typically, a progressive wave forms when an object oscillates and produces waves that can move through space. This space can be a liquid, gas, solid, or vacuum. For example, progressive waves that move through water are produced from wind power, and the waves that move through a gas are made from sound. Moreover, in a progressive wave, all the wave particles usually move with the same maximum velocity at the net mean position.

## What is the Difference Between Periodic and Progressive Waves?

A periodic wave is a wave with a repeating continuous pattern that determines its wavelength and frequency. A progressive wave is a type of wave that travels continuously in a medium in the same direction without a change in its amplitude. The key difference between periodic and progressive waves is that periodic waves do not transfer energy from one place to another, whereas progressive waves can transfer energy from one place to another.

The below infographic presents the differences between periodic and progressive waves in tabular form for side by side comparison.

## Summary – Periodic vs Progressive Waves

A wave is a disturbance that travels through a medium from one location to another location. There are two types of waves as periodic waves and progressive waves. The key difference between periodic and progressive waves is that periodic waves do not transfer energy from one place to another, whereas progressive waves can transfer energy from one place to another.