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Among these differential equations why one is linear while other is non-linear? enter image description here

What is criteria to find out whether a differential equation is linear or non-linear?

marked as duplicate by user99914, b00n heT, T. Bongers, Lee Mosher, Chill2Macht Aug 3 '16 at 23:28

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A differential equation is linear if there are no products of $y$ and its differentials.

For example, $y\cdot \frac{dy}{dx}=e^x$ would be non-linear, as well as $y^2+\frac{dy}{dx}=e^x$.

  • why is the second diff eqn non linear ? – gansub Jan 20 '17 at 12:25
  • @gansub It is not even a differential equation, so I edited it, but since $y^2=y \cdot y$, there are products of the unknown function and it differentials (which can be the unknown function itself). – wythagoras Jan 22 '17 at 17:59

Linear differential equations: They do not contain any powers of the unknown function or its derivatives (apart from 1). Your first equation falls under this. If this equation had something like $\frac{dy}{dx}^n$, $\frac{d^2y}{dx^2}^n$ where $n \neq 0 \ \text{or}\ 1$, this would make it non-linear.

Non-linear: may contain any powers of the unknown function or its derivatives (where power $> 0$) or even a product of unknown function and its derivatives. Your second equation is non-linear because it contains a power of the unknown function (in this case, $y(x)^2$)

The distinction is important because linear differential equations are generally easier to solve than non-linear equations.

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