The shape of a time domain signal as seen on an oscilloscope screen. It is a visual representation or graph of the instantaneous value of the signal plotted against time. Inspection of the waveform can sometimes reveal information about the signal that the spectrum of the signal does not show.

For instance a sharp spike or impulse and a randomly varying continuous signal can have spectra that look almost identical, while their waveforms are completely different.

In machine vibration, spikes are usually caused by mechanical impacting, while random noise can be caused by the advanced stages of bearing degradation.

See also: Asymmetric Waveform, DC Component, Waveform Analysis.

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Subjects: Electronics Noise & Vibration Physics