Questions on (ordinary) differential equations. For questions specifically concerning partial differential equations, use the (pde) tag.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

63
votes
7answers
2k views

Does a non-trivial solution exist for $f'(x)=f(f(x))$?

Does $f'(x)=f(f(x))$ have any solutions other than $f(x)=0$? I have become convinced that it does (see below), but I don't know of any way to prove this. Is there a nice method for solving this kind ...
62
votes
4answers
72k views

Teenager solves Newton dynamics problem - where is the paper?

From Ottawa Citizen (and all over, really): An Indian-born teenager has won a research award for solving a mathematical problem first posed by Sir Isaac Newton more than 300 years ago that has ...
42
votes
15answers
8k views

Why learn to solve differential equations when computers can do it?

I'm getting started learning engineering math. I'm really interested in physics especially quantum mechanics, and I'm coming from a strong CS background. One question is haunting me. Why do I need ...
36
votes
4answers
1k views

How do we know that we found all solutions of a differential equation?

I hope that's not an extremely stupid question, but it' been in my mind since I was taught how to solve differential equations in secondary school, and I've never been able to find an answer. For ...
35
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it mathematically valid to separate variables in a differential equation?

I read the following statement in a book on Calculus, as part of my mathematics course: Technically this separation of $\frac{dy}{dx}$ is not mathematically valid. However, the resulting ...
34
votes
2answers
3k views

Why are mathematician so interested to find theory for solving partial differential equations but not for integral equation?

Why are mathematician so interested to find theory for solving partial differential equations (for example Navier-Stokes equation) but not for integral equations?
31
votes
6answers
3k views

Function whose third derivative is itself.

I'm looking for a function $f$, whose third derivative is $f$ itself, while the first derivative isn't. Is there any such function? Which one(s)? If not, how can we prove that there is none? Notes: ...
28
votes
1answer
3k views

Why isn't the 3 body problem solvable?

I'm new to this "integrable system" stuff, but from what I've read, if there are as many linearly independent constants of motion that are compatible with respect to the poisson brackets as degrees of ...
28
votes
0answers
324 views

Solving Special Function Equations Using Lie Symmetries

The lie group + representation theory approach to special functions & how they solve the ode's arising in physics is absolutely amazing. I've given an example of it's power below on Bessel's ...
25
votes
0answers
264 views

Geometric & Intuitive Meaning of $SL(2,R)$, $SU(2)$, etc… & Representation Theory of Special Functions

Many special functions of mathematical physics can be understood from the point of view of the representation theory of lie groups. An example of the power of this viewpoint is given in my question ...
24
votes
2answers
1k views

please solve a 2013 th derivative question?

$ f(x) = 6x^7\sin^2(x^{1000}) e^{x^2} $ Find $ f^{(2013)}(0) $ A math forum friend suggest me to use big O symbol, however have no idea what that is, so how does that helping?
22
votes
8answers
2k views

What's so special about sine? (Concerning $y'' = -y$)

In an attempt to actually grok sine, I came across the $y''= -y$ definition. This is incredibly cool, but it leads me to a whole new series of questions. Sine seems pretty prevalent ...
22
votes
4answers
1k views

What am I doing when I separate the variables of a differential equation?

I see an equation like this: $$y\frac{\textrm{d}y}{\textrm{d}x} = e^x$$ and solve it by "separating variables" like this: $$y\textrm{d}y = e^x\textrm{d}x$$ $$\int y\textrm{d}y = \int ...
22
votes
2answers
748 views

How does one parameterize the surface formed by a *real paper* Möbius strip?

Here is a picture of a Möbius strip, made out of some thick green paper: I want to know either an explicit parametrization, or a description of a process to find the shape formed by this strip, as ...
21
votes
1answer
459 views

Scalar product and uniform convergence of polynomials

Given two functions $u$ and $v$, you can compute $(u|v) = \int_0^1 (u(t)'-u(t))(v(t)'-v(t)) \,\mathrm{d}t$. It resembles the scalar product $\int_{-1}^1 u(t)v(t) \,\mathrm{d}t$, which leads to ...
20
votes
2answers
450 views

When does $(uv)'=u'v'?$ [duplicate]

In any calculus course, one of the first thing we learn is that $(uv)'=u'v+v'u$ rather than the what I've written in the title. This got me wondering: when is this dream product rule true? There are ...
20
votes
1answer
3k views

Connection between the Laplace transform and generating functions

As I was sitting through a boring lecture rehashing basic techniques to solve ordinary differential equations, I began thinking about the Laplace transform and scribbled down a few ideas that I've ...
19
votes
1answer
652 views

Was Euler right?

We have a differential equation $$ y + y' = f(x) $$ and assume $f$ is infinitely differentiable. And we want to find particular solution. Then,I set $$ y_p = f(x)-f'(x)+f''(x)...., $$ i.e., ...
19
votes
1answer
864 views

When does gradient flow not converge?

I've been thinking about gradient flows in the context of Morse theory, where we take a differentiable-enough function $f$ on some space (for now let's say a compact Riemannian manifold $M$) and use ...
19
votes
2answers
528 views

Ramanujan style nested differential Equation

So I was exploring some math the other day... and I came across the following neat identity: Given $y$ is a function of $x$ ($y(x)$) and $$ y = 1 + \frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}x} \left(1 + ...
18
votes
7answers
2k views

“How long 'til we get there?” Road trip puzzle

Road trips can be fun, but they often appear to go slower the closer you get to your destination. I thought up this puzzle while on a recent trip. Thought it would be good food for thought. Curious ...
18
votes
3answers
5k views

Differential equations and Fourier and Laplace transforms

Why do both the Fourier transform and the Laplace transform appear in the study of differential equations? I've never understood why there are some situations where the Fourier transform is used and ...
18
votes
5answers
1k views

If $f''(x)+f(x)>0$ and $f(x)>0$ $\forall x\in(a,b)$; $f(a)=f(b)=0$; prove that $b-a>\pi$.

Please help me to solve this question: Suppose $f:[a,b] \to \Bbb R$ satisfies: $f''(x)+f(x)>0$ and $f(x)>0$ for all $x\in(a ,b)$; $f(a)=f(b)=0$. Prove that $b-a>\pi$. ...
18
votes
1answer
281 views

Solution of 2nd order linear ODE with regular singular points, and complex exponents at singularity

The steady state temperature distribution of a rod given by: \begin{equation} \frac{\textrm{d}p(x)y'}{\textrm{d}x} - y = 0,\; 0 \leq x \leq 1,\; \text{and} \;y(0) = 0, \end{equation} ...
17
votes
3answers
651 views

Find $f$ where $f'(x) = f(1+x)$

Let $f \colon \mathbb{R} \rightarrow \mathbb{R}$ be a smooth function such that $$f'(x) = f(1+x)$$ How can we find the general form of $f$? I thought of some differential equations, but not sure how ...
17
votes
1answer
364 views

Addition formula for $f_n(x+y)$ in closed form.

$n$ is a positive integer. $$f_n(x)^n+\left(\frac{df_n(x)}{dx}\right)^n=1$$ $f_n(0)=0$, $f_n'(0)=1$ then I am looking for the addition formula for $f_n(x+y)$ in closed form. if $n=1$ then ...
16
votes
5answers
738 views

history of the double root solution of $ay''+by'+cy=0$

Motivation: It is a well-known fact that $ay''+by'+cy=0$ has solutions which are found from substituting the ansatz $y=e^{\lambda t}$ into the DEqn. It turns out that we replace the calculus problem ...
16
votes
2answers
233 views

Periodic orbits of “even” perturbations of the differential system $x'=-y$, $y'=x$

Fix some even functions $f$ and $g$, differentiable, such that $f(0)=g(0)=0$ and $f'(0)=g'(0)=0$, and consider the autonomous differential system $$\left\{\ \begin{array}{lcr}x'&=&-y+f(x)\\ ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

If $f(x)=f'(x)+f''(x)$ then show that $f(x)=0$

A real-valued function $f$ which is infinitely differentiable on $[a.b]$ has the following properties: $f(a)=f(b)=0$ $f(x)=f'(x)+f''(x)$ $\forall x \in [a,b]$ Show ...
14
votes
3answers
677 views

When do the Freshman's dream product and quotient rules for differentiation hold?

This is motivated by looking at the calculus exams of some of my undergraduate students. A recurring mistake is assuming that the derivative of the product of functions is a product of derivatives and ...
14
votes
1answer
532 views

Tough Inverse Fourier Transform

In reference to this answer I gave the other day, I came across a very interesting function whose IFT would be nice to evaluate as part of completing the solution to the problem I answered. The ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Solving Differential Functional Equation $f(2x)=2f(x)f'(x)$

Find all functions satisfying $f(2x)=2f'(x)f(x)$ Under given condition, can't we find explicit solutions?
14
votes
1answer
555 views

How to make a smart guess for this ODE

I am dealing with a strange problem currently, we have a differential equation $$y(x)^2 = \pm \sqrt{-A \cos(x) - B \cos^2(x)+y'(x)-C},$$ where $C, A$ and $B $ are parameters. (The case that either ...
14
votes
1answer
302 views

Can we qualitatively predict the strategy of the German and US teams in today's World Cup soccer match?

In today's World Cup soccer match between Germany and the US, both teams only need a draw to advance to the next round. There's been speculation about possible collusion, especially given the friendly ...
14
votes
8answers
4k views

Proof for exact differential equations shortcut?

Today in my math class, we learned about exact differential equations. During class, our teacher first taught us the accepted way to solve exact equations, but then, told us of a shortcut that one of ...
14
votes
2answers
298 views

To solve $ \frac {dy}{dx}=\frac 1{\sqrt{x^2+y^2}}$

How do we solve the differential equation $ \dfrac {dy}{dx}=\dfrac 1{\sqrt{x^2+y^2}}$ ?
14
votes
2answers
5k views

Solving ODEs: The Frobenius Method, worked examples

I find the Frobenius Method quite beautiful, and I would like to be able to apply it. In particular there are three questions in my text book that I have attempted. In each question my limited ...
13
votes
4answers
464 views

Find a continuous function $f$ that satisfies…

Find a continuous function $f$ that satisfies $$ f(x) = 1 + \frac{1}{x}\int_1^x f(t) \ dt $$ Note: I tried differentiating with respect to $x$ to get an ODE but you get one that contains integrals - ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

Can this gravitational field differential equation be solved, or does it not show what I intended?

This is the equation I'm having trouble with: $G \frac{M m}{r^2} = m \frac{d^2 r}{dt^2}$ That's the non-vector form of the universal law of gravitation on the left and Newton's second law of motion ...
13
votes
3answers
434 views

Does Tom catch Jerry?

Tom has Jerry backed against a wall. Tom is distance 1 away (perpendicularly). At time t=0, Jerry runs along the wall. Tom runs directly towards Jerry. Tom always runs directly towards Jerry. Tom and ...
13
votes
2answers
235 views

If $f(x) + f'(x) + f''(x) \to A$ as $x \to \infty$, then show that $f(x) \to A$ as $x \to \infty$

This problem is an extension to the simpler problem which deals with $f(x) + f'(x) \to A$ as $x \to \infty$ (see problem 2 on my blog). If $f$ is twice continuously differentiable in some interval ...
13
votes
2answers
564 views

Algebraic interpretation of Lyapunov functions

I have recently learned the method of Lyapunov functions to rule out periodic solutions in two-dimensional nonlinear systems. My understanding is that there is some Lyapunov function for any nonlinear ...
13
votes
4answers
462 views

Why solutions of $y''+(w^2+b(t))y=0$ behave like solutions of $y''+w^2y=0$ at infinity

Assume $w>0$ and $b(t)$ be continuous on $[0,+\infty)$ and $\int_0^\infty |b(t)| dt <\infty$ show that $y''+(w^2+b(t))y=0$ has solution $\phi(t)$ such that $$\lim_{t\to\infty} ...
13
votes
1answer
558 views

Hilbert's 19th problem: Why do we care?

Hilbert's 19th problem asks: Are the solutions of regular problems in the calculus of variations always necessarily analytic? This was proven to be true (through the work of Sergei Bernstein, ...
13
votes
3answers
495 views

Fourth Order Nonlinear ODE

I was looking at an ode $w^{(4)} + w^3 = 0$ with initial conditions $[w'''(0),w''(0),w'(0),w(0)]=[1,0,0,0]$. I can see via maple that there is a blowup around 3.7. I was wondering if there was a way ...
13
votes
0answers
242 views

Notions of stability for differential equations

Consider a system of differential equations $$\dot{x} = f(x,u)$$ $$y = h(x,u)$$ where $x(t), u(t)$ are vectors in some $\mathbb{R}^n$. We define the infinity norm of a function in more-or-less in the ...
12
votes
5answers
4k views

Functions that are their Own nth Derivatives for Real n

Consider (non-trivial) functions that are their own nth derivatives. For instance $\frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}x} e^x = e^x$ $\frac{\mathrm{d}^2}{\mathrm{d}x^2} e^{-x} = e^{-x}$ ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Examples of nonlinear ordinary differential equations with elementary solutions.

I am looking for nice examples of nonlinear ordinary differential equations that have simple solutions in terms of elementary functions. (But are not trivial to find, like, for example, with ...
12
votes
3answers
325 views

Differential equations that are also functional

I was toying with equations of the type $f(x+\alpha)=f'(x)$ where $f$ is a real function. For example if $\alpha=\frac{\pi}{2}$ then the solutions include the function $f_{\lambda,\mu}(x)=\lambda ...
12
votes
2answers
991 views

Sum of derivatives of a polynomial

Let $p(x)$ be a polynomial of degree $n$ satisfying $p(x)\geq 0$ for all $x$. That is, for all $x$, $p(x) = a_n x^n + a_{n-1} x^{n-1} + \cdots + a_1 x + a_0 \geq 0$, $a_n\neq 0$. Show that ...