What exactly is the difference between frequency and period?

  1. I am on the "sound" chapter in my Conceptual Physics class but I just wanted to know the best way to explain in layterm: what is the difference between frequency and period?
  2. jcsd
  3. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    They are inverses of each other.
  4. To elaborate:

    Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency. The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency. Loosely speaking, 1 year is the period of the Earth's orbit around the Sun,[1] and the Earth's rotation on its axis has a frequency of 1 rotation per day.[2]

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency
  5. I suggest you make a habit of paying special attention to the units of new physical quantities you meet.
    Very often looking at these helps understand what the quantity is measuring.
    You may have to look beyond the modern trend to replace descriptive units with the names of dead scientists.


    Frequency is measured in Hertz ( a dead scientist) but originally in cycles per second and is the number of repeats of the wave or oscillation per second.

    Period is the measured in seconds and is the number of seconds it takes said oscillation to repeat.
  6. arildno

    arildno 11,265
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    That's so gross..

    Couldn't you just leave his remains alone, rather than "measuring" things in him???
  7. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    Think of frequency as "cycles per second" and the period as "seconds per cycle". Or substitute any other time unit that's more convenient for the purpose at hand.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thead via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?