A mathematical or physical process is time-reversible if the dynamics of the process remain well-defined when the sequence of time-states is reversed.
A deterministic process is time-reversible if the time-reversed process satisfies the same dynamic equations as the original process; in other words, the equations are invariant or symmetrical under a change in the sign of time. A stochastic process is reversible if the statistical properties of the process are the same as the statistical properties for time-reversed data from the same process.
In mathematics, a dynamical system is time-reversible if the forward evolution is one-to-one, so that for every state there exists a transformation (an involution) π which gives a one-to-one mapping between the time-reversed evolution of any one state and the forward-time evolution of another corresponding state, given by the operator equation:
In quantum mechanical systems, however, the weak nuclear force is not invariant under T-symmetry alone; if weak interactions are present reversible dynamics are still possible, but only if the operator π also reverses the signs of all the charges and the parity of the spatial co-ordinates (C-symmetry and P-symmetry). This reversibility of several linked properties is known as CPT symmetry.
Time reversal of numerous classes of stochastic processes has been studied, including Lévy processes, stochastic networks (Kelly's lemma), birth and death processes, Markov chains, and piecewise deterministic Markov processes.
Waves and optics
Time reversal method works based on the linear reciprocity of the wave equation, which states that the time reversed solution of a wave equation is also a solution to the wave equation since standard wave equations only contain even derivatives of the unknown variables. Thus, the wave equation is symmetrical under time reversal, so the time reversal of any valid solution is also a solution. This means that a wave's path through space is valid when travelled in either direction.
Time reversal signal processing is a process in which this property is used to reverse a received signal; this signal is then re-emitted and a temporal compression occurs, resulting in a reverse of the initial excitation waveform being played at the initial source.
- Tong (1990), Section 4.4
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