I need to find a word which will describe the periodic change of a quantity from zero to a positive value. I explicitly need to differentiate this word or expression from the periodic change of the variable from a negative value to a positive value (as in reversal).

The words pulse or impulse seem to be related, but I couldn't find a definition of them which includes this meaning. Few people use pulsation to describe it (even in publications), but it isn't accepted throughout the field.

The need for the word arises for naming an apparatus which has this specific property as opposed to a similar apparatus which has reversal in its name and as a defining property. This is in an engineering context.

Example: The change of value X in the field reversal apparatus for each cycle is bipolar(from -x to x). This is the main difference to the field ______ apparatus, where the change of value X is unipolar(from 0 to x) for each cycle.

Vaguely related: Link

  • I don't think there is enough context to answer this. Can you give a sample sentence to show how you would use the expression - you can leave a blank where it would be. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 9:07
  • a stroke, as in the stroke of a clock. This goes from , zero (not existing) to something, In mechanic a stroke is precisely half of the cycle in a back and forth motion. It describes a movement from the rest point (zero) to a value. "field positive stroke" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroke_%28engine%29
    – P. O.
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 10:25
  • From a technical (ie, electronics) point of view, "pulse" is probably as close as you can come. You're not going to find a single unambiguous word.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 12:07
  • Not sure if this will help, but it sounds as though it's a wave, or a waveform, with nonnegative values. Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 1:48

1 Answer 1


An oscillation between zero and a positive value is indeed called a pulse. "Pulse" originating from the heart beat, something that is on, then off, then on, then off. Also, mind you, "impulse" is definitely wrong.

You may play with the word pulse if you like to make it match your sense of "cool". Pulse generator, pulsing, pulsar (be wary of this one), pulsator, etc.

Another thing: A field can be reversed, but a field cannot be "pulsed". Either you need to get rid of "field", or you need to come up with a better description of what the apparatus does and is for, for me to be able to help you.

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