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Series Solutions: Airy's Equation

The general form of a homogeneous second order linear differential equation looks as follows:

y''+p(t) y'+q(t) y=0.

The series solutions method is used primarily, when the coefficients p(t) or q(t) are non- constant.

One of the easiest examples of such a case is Airy's Equation

y''-t y=0,

which is used in physics to model the defraction of light. We want to find power series solutions for this second-order linear differential equation.

The generic form of a power series is

differential equation. The generic form of a power series is We have to determine the right

We have to determine the right choice for the coefficients (a n ). As in other techniques for solving differential equations, once we have a "guess" for the solutions, we plug it into the differential equation. Recall that

we plug it into the differential equation. Recall that Plugging this information into the differential equation

Plugging this information into the differential equation we obtain:

Plugging this information into the differential equation we obtain: or equivalently TARUN GEHLOT (B.E .CIVIL, HONOURS)

or equivalently

Plugging this information into the differential equation we obtain: or equivalently TARUN GEHLOT (B.E .CIVIL, HONOURS)

TARUN GEHLOT (B.E .CIVIL, HONOURS)

Our next goal is to simplify this expression such that (basically) only one summation sign

expression such that (basically) only one summation sign " " remains. The obstacle we encounter is

" " remains. The obstacle we encounter is that the powers of both sums are

different, t n-2 for the first sum and t n+1 for the second sum. We make them the same by

shifting the index of the first sum up by 2 units and the index of the second sum down by one unit to obtain

and the index of the second sum down by one unit to obtain Now we run

Now we run into the next problem: the second sum starts at n=1, while the first sum has one more term and starts at n=0. We split off the 0th term of the first sum:

starts at n =0. We split off the 0th term of the first sum: Now we

Now we can combine the two sums as follows:

the first sum: Now we can combine the two sums as follows: and factor out t

and factor out t n :

combine the two sums as follows: and factor out t n : The power series on

The power series on the left is identically equal to zero, consequently all of its coefficients are equal to 0:

left is identically equal to zero, consequently all of its coefficients are equal to 0: TARUN

TARUN GEHLOT (B.E .CIVIL, HONOURS)

We can slightly rewrite as

We can slightly rewrite as These equations are known as the "recurrence relations" of the differential

These equations are known as the "recurrence relations" of the differential equations. The recurrence relations permit us to compute all coefficients in terms of a 0 and a 1 . We already know from the 0th recurrence relation that a 2 =0. Let's compute a 3 by reading off the recurrence relation for n=1:

Let us continue:

off the recurrence relation for n =1: Let us continue: The hardest part, as usual, is
off the recurrence relation for n =1: Let us continue: The hardest part, as usual, is

The hardest part, as usual, is to recognize the patterns evolving; in this case we have to consider three cases:

1. All the terms

this case we have to consider three cases: 1. All the terms are equal to zero.

are equal to zero. We can write this in compact form as

are equal to zero. We can write this in compact form as 2. All the terms

2. All the terms

zero. We can write this in compact form as 2. All the terms are multiples of

are multiples of a 0 . We can be more precise:

TARUN GEHLOT (B.E .CIVIL, HONOURS)

(Plug in k =1,2,3,4 to check that this works!) 3. All the terms are multiples

(Plug in k=1,2,3,4 to check that this works!)

3. All the terms

in k =1,2,3,4 to check that this works!) 3. All the terms are multiples of a

are multiples of a 1 . We can be more precise:

terms are multiples of a 1 . We can be more precise: (Plug in k =1,2,3,4

(Plug in k=1,2,3,4 to check that this works!) Thus the general form of the solutions to Airy's Equation is given by

form of the solutions to Airy's Equation is given by Note that, as always, y (0)=

Note that, as always, y(0)=a 0 and y'(0)=a 1 . Thus it is trivial to determine a 0 and a 1 when you want to solve an initial value problem.

In particular

you want to solve an initial value problem. In particular and form a fundamental system of

and

want to solve an initial value problem. In particular and form a fundamental system of solutions

form a fundamental system of solutions for Airy's Differential Equation. Below you see a picture of these two solutions. Note that for negative t, the solutions behave somewhat like the oscillating solutions of y''+y=0, while for positive t, they behave somewhat like the exponential solutions of the differential equation y''-y=0.

TARUN GEHLOT (B.E .CIVIL, HONOURS)

TARUN GEHLOT (B.E .CIVIL, HONOURS)

TARUN GEHLOT (B.E .CIVIL, HONOURS)