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ISSN 0012-2661, Differential Equations, 2010, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 61–69.


c Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2010.
Original Russian Text 
c L.A. Cherkas, A.A. Grin’, 2010, published in Differentsial’nye Uravneniya, 2010, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 59–67.

ORDINARY DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS

Bendixson–Dulac Criterion and Reduction


to Global Uniqueness in the Problem
of Estimating the Number of Limit Cycles
L. A. Cherkas and A. A. Grin’
Belarus State University of Computer Science and Radio Electronics,
Minsk, Belarus
Received April 1, 2008

Abstract—For autonomous systems on the real plane, we develop a regular method for localiz-
ing and estimating the number of limit cycles surrounding the unique singular point. The method
is to divide the phase plane into annulus-shaped domains with transversal boundaries in each
of which a Dulac function is constructed by solving an optimization problem, which permits
one to use the Bendixson–Dulac criterion. We state the principle of reduction to global unique-
ness and use it in the case of existence of an Andronov–Hopf function of limit cycles to obtain
a sharp global estimate of the number of limit cycles for an individual system as well as for
a one-parameter family of such systems in an unbounded domain.
DOI: 10.1134/S0012266110010076

1. INTRODUCTION
On the plane, consider the structurally stable real autonomous system of differential equations
dx dy
= P (x, y), = Q(x, y), (x, y) ∈ Ω ⊂ R2 , (1)
dt dt
with right-hand sides P and Q jointly continuously differentiable with respect to the variables x
and y in a domain Ω in which the antisaddle O(0, 0) is its unique singular point.
It is known [1–3] that the Bendixson–Dulac criterion [4–6] is effective in many cases of the solu-
tion of problems of localizing and estimating the number of limit cycles, which is most complicated
in the complete qualitative investigation of systems (1). However, for its use for system (1) of the
class C 1 in a domain G ⊂ Ω, one should first find an auxiliary function B(x, y) ∈ C 1 (G) such that
the expression
∂(BP ) ∂(BQ)
F (x, y) = div(Bf ) = +
∂x ∂y
does not change sign in G, and the curve F (x, y) = 0 contains no limit cycle. Then system (1) has
at most one limit cycle in the doubly connected domain G, and there is no limit cycle in a connected
domain G. The Bendixson criterion is a special case of the Dulac criterion for B ≡ 1.
In this classical sense, the function B(x, y), referred to as a Dulac function, was used by numerous
authors [1, 4, 5] for the proof of the absence of limit cycles of polynomial systems (1) in a connected
domain and the uniqueness of a limit cycle in a doubly connected domain. However, since the
criterion itself provides no method for the construction of the function B or for the localization of
limit cycles lying in the domain G, it follows that both the definition of a domain G and the choice
of a function B(x, y) satisfying the requirements of the Dulac criterion depend on the form of the
system and experience in each specific case. In the case of existence of several limit cycles lying
sufficiently close to each other, this problems becomes more complicated.
The aim of the present paper is to develop regular methods for localizing and estimating the
number of limit cycles of system (1) surrounding the unique singular point O with the use of

61
62 CHERKAS, GRIN’

the construction of annulus-shaped subdomains with transversal boundaries in Ω and the solution
of an optimization problem for finding appropriate Dulac functions, which permit one to apply
the Bendixson–Dulac criterion to each subdomain. In addition, we state the principle of reduction
to global uniqueness, which permits one to obtain a sharp global estimate for the number of limit
cycles in an unbounded domain Ω for an individual system (1) as well as for a one-parameter family
of such systems for which an Andronov–Hopf function of limit cycles can be constructed [7–9].

2. PRELIMINARY FACTS AND THEOREMS


The condition imposed by the Bendixson–Dulac criterion on the function F (x, y) implies that
the curve B(x, y) = 0 is transversal to the vector field of system (1). Consequently, the limit cycles
do not cross it, and their analysis can be performed separately in each of the domains B > 0
and B < 0. Therefore, a positive Dulac function was used in a number of cases [5], since it is
unnecessary to consider the curve B = 0. For example, if B = eU(x,y) , then
 
U ∂U ∂U
F (x, y) = e P+ Q + div f ,
∂x ∂y

and the use of the criterion is reduced to finding a positive parenthesized expression.
In [10–14], we suggested and developed a new approach to the use of a Dulac function in the
form B = |Ψ(x, y)|1/k , k = 0, Ψ(x, y) ∈ C 1 (Ω), for which the inequality

∂Ψ ∂Ψ
Φ ≡ D(Ψ) ≡ kΨ div f + P+ Q > 0 (< 0) ∀(x, y) ∈ Ω, f = (P, Q), (2)
∂x ∂y

∂ ∂
is true, where D = k div f +P +Q is the Dulac operator. Since div(Bf ) = Φ|Ψ|1/k−1 k−1 sgn Ψ,
∂x ∂y
it follows from condition (2) that the curve Ψ(x, y) = 0 dividing the domain Ω into subdomains
in each of which the function B = |Ψ|1/k is a classical Dulac function is transversal to the vector
field f . Then the number of limit cycles of system (1) in the domain Ω does not exceed the maximum
number of pairwise nonhomotopic doubly connected domains formed by the curves Ψ = 0 and ∂Ω.
The existing limit cycles are structurally stable, and the stability type of each of them is specified
by the sign of kΨ in its localization subdomain.
It is convenient to construct the function Ψ(x, y) in the form of a linear combination of given
basis functions; i.e.,

m
Ψ = Ψ(x, y, C) = Cj Ψj (x, y), Cj = const, C = (C1 , . . . , Cm ). (3)
j=1

Then the function Φ is also a similar linear combination of known functions:



m
Φ = Φ(x, y, C) = Cj Φj (x, y), Φj = D(Ψj ),
j=1

and, in the case of a closed bounded domain Ω, the existence of a linear combination (3) satisfying
inequality (2) for a given value of k is equivalent to the inequality

L = max min Φ(x, y, C) > 0. (4)


|Cj |≤1 (x,y)∈Ω

The linear dependence of the function Φ on the additional variables Cj , j = 1, . . . , m, permits


one to find the maximin (4) by the solution of the corresponding linear programming problem


n
L → max, Cj Φj (xp , yp ) − L ≥ 0, |Cj | ≤ 1, (5)
j=1

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BENDIXSON–DULAC CRITERION AND REDUCTION TO GLOBAL UNIQUENESS 63

on a grid of nodes (xp , yp ), p = 1, . . . , N0 , in the domain Ω with the use of various aspects of
the above-mentioned approach [10–13]. If the solution (C ∗ , L∗ ) of problem (5) has been found
on a sufficiently fine uniform grid of nodes, then L∗ is a good approximation to the value of the
maximin (4). In this case, the choice of a grid of nodes, the numbers k and m, and the functions
Ψj is performed experimentally. Then the obtained results can be rigorously verified with the use
of methods of algebra and analysis.
The following assertion is a consequence of the results in [7, 10].

Theorem 1. Let the structurally stable system (1) have a unique singular point, the antisad-
dle O, div f (O) = 0, and a function Ψ satisfying condition (2) in the domain Ω. If the equation
Ψ(x, y) = 0 defines q embedded ovals, then in each of the q − 1 doubly connected domains bounded
by neighboring ovals, system (1) has exactly one limit cycle, and in the whole it has at most q limit
cycles in the domain Ω.

Theorem 1 can be successfully used for the application of the Bendixson–Dulac criterion, which,
for convenience, is stated as follows.

Theorem 2. For the existence (respectively, absence) of a unique limit cycle of system (1)
in a two-connected subdomain Ωi ⊂ Ω with transversal boundaries of the type input–input or
output–output (respectively, input–output), it is necessary and sufficient that there exists a function
B(x, y) > 0 such that the condition F (x, y) = 0 is satisfied in the domain Ωi .

3. CONSTRUCTION OF LOCALIZATION DOMAINS OF LIMIT CYCLES


Condition (2) becomes difficult to achieve in the case of large sizes of the domain Ω and bad
separation of limit cycles. Then one can reject the requirement of positivity of Φ in the entire
domain Ω and replace it by a more convenient condition specific in each special case. For example,
it was shown in [13] that it is efficient to use the property that the vector field of system (1) is
transversal to the curves Ψ = 0 and Φ = 0; this property is valid if the curves Φ = 0 and dΦ/dt = 0
are disjoint. Therefore, in the first method for constructing localization domains of limit cycles, for
the application of the Bendixson–Dulac criterion, we use a simpler variant of this approach based
on the following assertion.

Theorem 3. Suppose that for system (1) defined in a connected domain Ω ⊂ R2 , there exists
a function Ψ(x, y) ∈ C 1 (Ω) and a number k ∈ R, k = 0, such that the curves Ψ = 0 and Φ = 0 are
disjoint in the domain Ω. Then the limit cycles of system (1) do not cross the curve Ψ = 0.

The proof of the theorem is similar to that of Theorem 2 in [13].


Therefore, in a connected domain Ω of localization of limit cycles of system (1), we first try
to construct a function (3) satisfying condition (2). If this attempt fails, then we vary the grid
of optimization nodes, the numbers k and m, and the functions Ψj so as to find a solution of
problem (5) satisfying the assumptions of Theorem 3. If such a solution is found, then we obtain
a partition of Ω by the curves Ψ = 0 into annulus-shaped subdomains Ωi . In each of these
subdomains Ωi in which one of the conditions Ψ > 0 and Ψ < 0 is satisfied, and the function
Φ changes its sign, we again construct a function Ψ of the form (3) for system (1) and solve the
corresponding linear programming problem (5) on a new grid, which, as numerical experiments
show, is much simpler than the solution of the previous problem. Further, on the basis of the
Bendixson–Dulac theorem, we obtain a rigorous proof of the uniqueness of a limit cycle or its
absence in Ωi . As a result, on the basis of results of the estimation in each subdomain Ωi , we make
a conclusion on the exact number and localization of all limit cycles of system (1) in the domain Ω.
The second method for constructing localization domains of limit cycles for system (1) is based
on its embedding in the one-parameter family of systems

dx dy
= P (x, y) − αQ(x, y), = Q(x, y) + αP (x, y), α ∈ I ⊂ R. (6)
dt dt
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64 CHERKAS, GRIN’

Note that, for the family (6), the anti-saddle O(0, 0) is also the unique singular point. In addition,
the vector field f1 defined by the set (6) is transversally turned with respect to the field f of
system (1). Consequently, for different values of the parameter α, the limit cycles of the family (6)
are disjoint [15; 16, p. 198], and for it one can introduce the function of limit cycles (the Andronov–
Hopf function) α = l(x) = M (x, 0) for which various aspects of the construction and analysis in
a bounded domain Ω were considered in [8, 9]. Here, in the space R2 × R, the equation α = M (x, y)
defines a surface of limit cycles, and the value of the parameter α∗ = l(0) corresponds to the
Andronov–Hopf bifurcation.
In this case, we assume that the range of the function α = l(x) defined in a bounded domain
Ω that is formed by limit cycles of system (6) for varying α is a finite interval I0 ⊂ I. Then
there exists a partition of Ω into finitely many annulus-shaped subdomains Ωi , i = 1, . . . , n, of the
type input–input, output–output, and input–output and a connected subdomain Ω0 containing
the point O whose boundaries ∂Ωi are transversals of the vector field of system (1). It is convenient
to perform such a partition for system (1) with the use of limit cycles of system (6), which are
found by numerical methods with a specific accuracy for corresponding values of the parameter
αi − ε and αi + ε, where ε is a sufficiently small positive number.
Moreover, the practical implementation of the suggested approach depends both on the con-
struction method of annulus-shaped subdomains Ωi with transverse boundaries and on the choice
of the optimization grid on them for the solution of problem (5). The best result is achieved on
a uniform grid.
In some cases, it is convenient to pass to a polar coordinate system r, ϕ with the origin O and,
instead of system (1), consider the system

dr dϕ xP + yQ
= G(r, ϕ), = R(r, ϕ), G(r, ϕ) = √ 2 ,
dt dt x + y2
xQ − P y
R(r, ϕ) = 2 , x = r cos ϕ, y = r sin ϕ, (7)
x + y2

in the strip 0 ≤ ϕ ≤ 2π. The limit cycles of system (1) surrounding the origin correspond to the
limit cycles of the second kind of system (7), and those not surrounding the origin correspond to
the limit cycles of the first kind. After moving the origin into another point of the phase plane of
system (1), the kind of a cycle can change. For the use of the Bendixson–Dulac criterion for the
analysis of limit cycles of the second kind of system (7), one should first construct their localization
subdomains bounded by transversal 2π-periodic functions r = r1 (ϕ) and r = r2 (ϕ).

4. THE METHOD OF REDUCTION


TO THE GLOBAL UNIQUENESS OF A LIMIT CYCLE
The sharp estimate thus obtained for the number of limit cycles of system (1) in a bounded
domain Ω can be generalized to an unbounded domain Ω in some cases with the use of the function
α = l(x). Then one should additionally find a value α = 0 for which system (6) has a unique limit
cycle surrounding all limit cycles of system (1) for α ∈ I0 . After that, instead of the domain Ω, one
chooses the domain bounded by this cycle, and all considerations are reduced to the previous case.
This reduction to global uniqueness can be applied to an individual system (1) as well as to a
parametric family of systems

dx dy
= P (x, y, a), = Q(x, y, a), (x, y) ∈ Ω ⊂ R2 , a ∈ I ⊂ R, (8)
dt dt

for which there exists an Andronov–Hopf function a = l(x) associated with the parameter a turning
the field. If, by means of the investigation of the function a = l(x), we analyze the dependence
of the number of limit cycles and their localization on the parameter a under its changes on a finite
interval I0 ⊂ I in a bounded domain Ω and find additionally a value a = 0 for which the family (8)
has the unique limit cycle surrounding all of its limit cycles for a ∈ I0 , then the resulting dependence
provides both the local and global estimate of the number of limit cycles of the family (8) for a ∈ I0 .

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BENDIXSON–DULAC CRITERION AND REDUCTION TO GLOBAL UNIQUENESS 65

Fig. 1.

First, we consider the idea of the method of reduction to the global uniqueness of a limit cycle
for the case of the Lienard system
dx dy
= y − F (x), = −g(x); xg(x) > 0, x = 0; F (0) = 0, (9)
dt dt
with F (x) = F1 (x) + ax for which the point O is the unique finite singular point (an antisaddle),
the point at infinity is rejecting, and the parameter a turns its vector field. For system (9),
we approximately construct the function a = l(x) of limit cycles in the form of a polynomial
of some degree (see Fig. 1) on the interval J1 = [0, xmax ] and analyze its behavior by finding
appropriate functions Ψ on the interval [0, x1 ], 0 < x1 ≤ xmax , a1 = l(x1 ). If the number of roots of
the equation l(x) = a0 , a0 < a1 , on the interval J0 = [0, x0 ], x0 ≤ x1 , is equal to p, then the number
of limit cycles of system (9) in the strip −x0 < x < x0 is also equal to p. Now suppose that the
equation l(x) = a∗ , a0 < a∗ ≤ a1 , has a unique root x∗ ; i.e., system (9) has a unique limit cycle
passing through the point with coordinates (x∗ , 0), and this fact is justified by the construction of
a Dulac function B for system (9) with a = a∗ in its whole phase space. Then the function l(x)
cannot take the value a∗ outside the interval J1 ; in other words, the function l(x) has no extremum
point for x > xmax , a ∈ E ∗ (l), where E ∗ (l) is the range of the function l(x) for −x∗ ≤ x ≤ x∗ ,
a∗ = l(x∗ ). Consequently, in the whole, for any value a0 ∈ E ∗ (l), system (9) has exactly the same
number of limit cycles as in the strip −x∗ ≤ x ≤ x∗ .
To prove the uniqueness of the limit cycle of system (9) for a > a∗ , one can use Lefschetz’s
results [17, p. 130] in some cases.

Theorem 4. The Lienard system of the form (9) has a unique (stable) limit cycle if the following
conditions are satisfied.
1. F  (x) = F  (−x), F  (0) < 0.
2. g(x) = −g(−x).
3. F (x)(x − x∗ ) > 0 for all x ∈ (0; x∗ ) ∪ (x∗ ; +∞); moreover , the function F (x) is monotone for
x > x∗ and tends to infinity as x → ∞.

It follows from Theorem 4 that l(x) is increasing on the interval x > x∗ .


The method of reduction to the global uniqueness of the limit cycle for the canonical family of
quadratic systems
dx dy
= 1 + xy, = a00 + a10 x + a01 y + a20 x2 + a11 xy + ay 2 (10)
dt dt
has specific features. Under the conditions

2
(−1)j aij = 0, a02 = a, 2a − a01 − a10 − 2a20 = L > 0, (a11 + a01 − 2a − 1)2 − 4L < 0,
i+j=0

system (10) has a focus at the point A(1, −1), and its vector field is turned by the parameter a11 .
Since the axis x = 0 is transversal to the vector field of system (10), it follows that the limit cycles

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66 CHERKAS, GRIN’

do not cross it, and one can separately consider the limit cycles in each half-plane. Here we consider
only the half-plane x > 0 containing the point A.
By changing the parameter a11 with the remaining parameters being fixed, we construct an
Andronov–Hopf function of limit cycles a11 = l(x) on the interval J1 = [x0 , xmax ], whose endpoints
satisfy the conditions x0 < 1 and xmax > 1, and xmax corresponds to the bifurcation of the limit
cycle from the separatrix loop of the saddle S(x0 , −1/x0 ). If the number of roots of the equation
l(x) = a011 on the subinterval J0 = [x1 , x2 ] ⊂ J1 is equal to 2p, then the number of limit cycles of
system (10) in the strip x1 < x < x2 is equal to p. Now suppose that the equation l(x) = a111 with
a111 < a011 defines a unique limit cycle lying in the strip x3 < x < x4 , where [x3 , x4 ] ⊂ J0 ⊂ J1 .
Then the function l(x) cannot take the value a011 outside the interval J1 . Consequently, for a011 ,
system (10) has exactly p limit cycles in the half-plane x > 0.
Therefore, the following assertion is true in the general case.
Theorem 5. Suppose that, for the family of systems (8) with a parameter a turning the field
in a connected unbounded domain Ω, there exist the unique singular point , an anti-saddle O(0, 0),
and a continuous function of limit cycles a = l(x), x ∈ [0, X), where l(0) = a∗ corresponds to the
Andronov–Hopf bifurcation. If , in the domain Ω, for a = a0 , system (8) has a unique limit cycle
dividing Ω into two domains Ω1 and Ω2 , then for any a ∈ E(l), all limit cycles of system (8) lie in
one of the domains Ω1 and Ω2 ; in this case, in the domain Ω, system (8) has the same number of
limit cycles as in the domain Ω1 or Ω2 .
If, for example, Ω1 is a bounded domain containing the limit cycles of system (8), then the
problem of estimating their number in an unbounded domain Ω can be reduced to the same problem
in Ω1 .

5. EXAMPLES
The above-suggested ways of constructing localization subdomains for limit cycles and, in addi-
tion, the method of reduction to the global uniqueness of the limit cycle were effectively tested in
examples of certain quadratic systems and the Lienard system, which were computed with the use
of the “Mathematica” software package.
Example 1. First, we illustrate the approach to the construction of localization subdomains of
limit cycles based on the use of Theorem 3. Consider the quadratic system
dx dy
= −(x + 1)y + αQ(x, y), = Q(x, y), Q(x, y) = x + λy + ax2 + b(x + 1)y + cy 2 , (11)
dt dt

Fig. 2.

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BENDIXSON–DULAC CRITERION AND REDUCTION TO GLOBAL UNIQUENESS 67

Fig. 3. Fig. 4.

for a = 0.1, b = −1.95002, c = 0.2, α = 0.3, and λ = 1.65. A numerical prediction shows that
system (11) has at least two limit cycles in the square Ω : −0.4 ≤ x ≤ 0.5, −0.5 ≤ y ≤ 0.4,
which surround the singular point O. To obtain a sharp estimate, we firstly construct a function
Ψ in the form (3) with the use of the solution of problem (5) on the uniform grid of nodes (xp , yp )
in the square Ω. The best result is achieved on the solution (C ∗ , L∗ ), L∗ = 6.7566 × 10−5 for
k = −0.5, p = 1, . . . , 625, when Ψ is a polynomial of degree 12. In Ω, the equation Ψ(x, y, C ∗ ) = 0
defines two embedded ovals Γ1 and Γ2 surrounding the point O (Fig. 2). The function Φ(x, y, C ∗ )
is positive in Ω outside 16 subdomains of small sizes lying outside the external oval Γ2 . Therefore,
the partition of Ω into subdomains is obtained with the use of ovals of the curve Ψ(x, y, C ∗ ) = 0.
Then it follows from Theorem 2 that, in the annulus-shaped subdomain Ω1 formed by the ovals Γ1
and Γ2 , system (11) has a unique limit cycle. Now for the subdomain Ω2 , we take the part of Ω
lying between the oval Γ2 and the boundary Ω :
Ω2 = {(x, y)| (x, y) ∈ Ω, Ψ(x, y, C ∗ ) < 0 ∩ x2 + y 2 ≥ 0.03}.
By defining a uniform grid on it, we solve problem (5) again. There exists a solution (C ∗ , L∗ ),
L∗ = 0.0099 for k = −0.5, for which Ψ is a polynomial of degree 8. The functions Φ(x, y, C ∗ ) and
Ψ(x, y, C ∗ ) are positive in Ω2 , which implies the existence of exactly one limit cycle in it. The dark
spots in Fig. 3 represents the subdomain in which Φ(x, y, C ∗ ) < 0, nodes of the optimization grid
in Ω2 , and the limit cycle in it. Therefore, we find that system (11) has exactly two limit cycles in
the domain Ω.
Example 2. In the case of system (10), we illustrate the method for constructing localization
subdomains of limit cycles with the use of embedding in the one-parameter family (6).
In it, we preliminarily perform the transformation Y = yw, which contracts limit cycles w times
in the direction of the axis Oy and reduces the system to the form
dx dy
= w +xy, = w2 (a20 (x2 −1)+a10 (x−1))+w(a11 (xy +w)+a01 (y +w))+a(y 2 −w2 ), (12)
dt dt
where the variable Y is replaced by y. The singular point A becomes the point Ã(1, −w). Then,
by performing the change of variables x = 1/ξ, y = Y /ξ − ξw in system (12) and by multiplying
the resulting system by −ξ, we obtain the system
dξ dY
= ξY, = −w2 P4 (ξ) − wP2 (ξ)Y − (a − 1)Y 2 ,
dt dt
P4 (ξ) = a20 + a10 ξ + (a01 − a20 − a10 − a)ξ 2 − a01 ξ 3 + aξ 4 ,
P2 (ξ) = a11 + a01 ξ − (2a + 1)ξ 2 . (13)

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68 CHERKAS, GRIN’

Under such a transformation, the equator of the Poincaré sphere of system (10) becomes the
invariant axis ξ = 0 of system (13), and the singular point Ã(1, −w) is mapped into the singular
point Â(1, 0).
Now we embed system (13) in the family (6). For
a = 18/23, a01 = 0.835, a11 = 1.7313, a20 = −40, a10 = −2206859/18400, w = 1/20,
the Andronov–Hopf function α = l(ξ) on the interval [1.1, 2.9] acquires the form
α = −0.000832 + 0.005187ξ − 0.013091ξ 2 + 0.017742ξ 3 − 0.014838ξ 4 + 0.008165ξ 5
− 0.002949ξ 6 + 0.000649ξ 7 − 0.00007ξ 8 + 5.137752 × 10−7 ξ 9 + 3.842235 × 10−7 ξ 10 ,
whence it follows that, in the half-plane ξ > 0, system (13) has at least three limit cycles L1 , L2 ,
and L3 surrounding the singular point  and intersecting the line ξ > 1 for ξ = 1.50544, 2.10482,
2.70156. We have not managed to construct the function Ψ on the uniform grid of nodes in the
localization rectangle of limit cycles Ω : 0 ≤ ξ ≤ 3, −1.5 ≤ Y ≤ 1.2 with the use of the solution of
problem (5). Therefore, to obtain a sharp estimate for the number of limit cycles of system (13),
we divide the domain Ω with the use of limit cycles of system (6) into annulus-shaped subdomains,
two of which (containing the cycles L1 and L3 ) have the type input–input, and one subdomain
(containing the cycle L2 ) has the type output–output. In each subdomain, we solve problem (5)
on a uniform grid and construct the corresponding function Ψ for k = −1. In the subdomain
containing the internal limit cycle L1 , the function Ψ is constructed in the form of a polynomial of
degree 7. In the subdomains containing the limit cycles L2 and L3 , Ψ is a polynomial of degrees 8
and 9, respectively. Figure 4 represents an optimization grid in an annulus-shaped subdomain
with the cycle L2 . The dark spots correspond to the condition Φ(x, y, C ∗ ) < 0, and the function
Ψ(x, y, C ∗ ) is positive in the considered domain. By using Theorem 2, we find that the limit cycle
is unique in each of these subdomains. Therefore, in the rectangle Ω, system (13) has exactly three
limit cycles.
In addition to the functions Ψ, for system (13) in the considered subdomains, we constructed
the Dulac functions in the form B = eU(x,y) . This way is more reliable, since the function B
does not change its sign. But the efficiency of both ways is approximately the same, since their
implementation requires an equal amount of computations.
It is also efficient to use the method of reduction of system (13) to the corresponding system (7)
in polar coordinates. This approach has the following advantage as compared with the previous
approaches: the construction of a uniform grid in the localization subdomain of a limit cycle is
simpler.
Example 3. For system (9) with F (x) = (x2 − 1.1)(x2 − 0.7)(x2 − 0.3)x3 − ax on the interval
[0.01, 1.1], we construct the function of limit cycles of the form [9]
l(x) = −0.185047x2 + 0.291759x3 − 2.324506x4 + 18.009895x5 − 61.599995x6
+ 124.894786x7 − 160.406749x8 + 125.965646x9 − 54.839132x10 + 10.182582x11 .
On the considered interval, the system can have up to four limit cycles depending on the value of
the parameter a. For example, if we take a0 = −0.005, then p = 4 (see Fig. 5). Note that the

Fig. 5.

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BENDIXSON–DULAC CRITERION AND REDUCTION TO GLOBAL UNIQUENESS 69

Dulac function constructed in a strip does not always have this form on the whole plane. In this
example, one can take x1 = x0 = x∗ = 1.09918, which corresponds to a∗ = 0.01. For the above-
mentioned value of the parameter a and for k = −0.95, for the system in the strip −1.2 ≤ x ≤ 1.2,
we constructed the Dulac function B with a function Φ in the form of a polynomial of degree 80
and with a function Ψ in the form of a polynomial of degree 8 in the variable y and degree 72 in x.
Next, one can readily show that the found function defines one oval and is also a Dulac function
on the entire phase plane. The uniqueness of the limit cycle of the system for a > 0.001 can be
proved with the use of the Lefschetz theorem. Consequently, the estimate for the number of limit
cycles of this system obtained for the strip −1.2 ≤ x ≤ 1.2 is global, which is in accordance with
the Smale conjecture on the number of limit cycles of Lienard systems of such a form [2, 3].

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