Most of the present understanding of the S=1 quantum spin chains displaying the Haldane gap is coming from the so-called valence-bond-solid (VBS) Hamiltonian which has an exactly known ground state. We show that this point is characterized by the onset of short-range incommensurate spin correlations in the one-parameter family of Hamiltonians Hθ = cos θ ∑ i Si ·Si+1 +sin θ ∑ i (Si ·Si+1) 2. This gives a physical meaning to this special point. We establish precise values for the gaps, correlations, the string order parameter, and identify the VBS point as a disorder point in the sense of classical statistical mechanics. It is a quantum remnant of the classical transition between a ground state with long-range Néel order and a ground state with incommensurate long-range order. 1 I
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