The most common meaning of ripple in electrical science is the small unwanted residual periodic variation of the direct current (dc) output of a power supply which has been derived from an alternating current (ac) source. This ripple is due to incomplete suppression of the alternating waveform within the power supply.
As well as this time-varying phenomenon, there is a frequency domain ripple that arises in some classes of filter and other signal processing networks. In this case the periodic variation is a variation in the insertion loss of the network against increasing frequency. The variation may not be strictly linearly periodic. In this meaning also, ripple is usually to be considered an unwanted effect, its existence being a compromise between the amount of ripple and other design parameters.