DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A wave function or wavefunction (also named a state function) in quantum mechanics describes the quantum state of a system of one or more particles, and contains all the information about the system considered in isolation. Quantities associated with measurements, such as the average momentum of a particle, are derived from the wavefunction by mathematical operations that describe its interaction with observational devices. Thus it is a central entity in quantum mechanics. The Schrodinger equation determines how the wave function evolves over time, that is, the wavefunction is the solution of the Schrodinger equation. The wave function behaves qualitatively like other waves, like water waves or waves on a string, because the Schrodinger equation is mathematically a type of wave equation. This explains the name "wave function", and gives rise to waveâparticle duality.
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