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E.T. Whittaker
On the Partial Differential Equations of Mathematical Physics Mathematische Annalen
Vol. 57, 1903, p. 333355.
B·1
E. T.
w~
au
the di!'ereutial equatiol1l of phy.ics.
333
On the partia.l differential equations of mathematical
By E. T.
WHl'TTAXD
physics.
in Cambridge.
§ 1.
Introduction.
The object of this paper is the solution of Laplace's potential equation
as v at v as v
0::;2
":=;:0"
:::: Y" + ~ + o:t
0
J
0,
and of the general differential equation of wavemoeions
. at v aS v a vat v 4+lil at 0::;: oy: o:!
t,
and of other equations derived from these. In § 2, the general solution of the potential equation is found. In § 3, a. number of results are deduced from this, chiefly relating to particular solutions of the equation, and expansions of the general solution in terms of them. In § 4, the general solution of the differential equation of wavemotions is given. In § 5, a number of deductions from this general solution is given, including a. theorem to the effect that any solution of this equation can be compounded from simple uniform plane waves, and an undulatory e:xpla.nation of the propagation of gravitation. § 2.
The general solution of the potential equation.
We shall first consider the equation
a
l
V
a::;:
OIV a v+ ayJ + Oz.J = 0,
l
which was originally given by Laplace*).
"') Mimoire sur la them'ie de l'anneau de Saturne, 1787,
B2
334
This
E.T. WBnT~
equa.tion is satisfied by the potential of any distribution of matter which attracts according to the Newtonian La.w. We sha.ll first obtain a. general form for potential·fanctions, and then shall shew that this form constitutes the general solution of Laplace's equation. From the identity
'JI (:(1)' +
1 (yb)'
+ (IC)'}

r r;J
1
211
o
(.Ic)
+ i(.za)
cia
COB 16
+ i(yb)
sinu'
we see that the potential a.t any point (x, y, /I) of a. particle of mass m,
situated at the point (a, b, c), is
which, considered as a function of x, y,
In
I,
is an. expression
of the type
!fCZ+iX
o
cos u+iy sinu, t,)du,
where
f
denotes some function of the two arguments
z
+ ix
cos n + iy sin u (atb~~),
and u.
It follows that the potential of any number of particles mlJ m!, ... , 1n1.'
situated at the points (~blCl)' pression of the type
In
(~b3C3)' ... , a:cbr.c,J, is an ex
!{fl(Z+iX or
o
cos u+iy sin u, u)
+ f:(z+ix
u) + f..z+ix cos u+iy sin u, u)} au (
cos u+iy sin
H"
:n
!fCz+ix
I)
cos
t'+ iy
sin u, u)du,
where
f is a new function of the two arguments
: + ix cos u + £y
In this
sin u
and
u.
of matter which attracts according to the Newtonian Law can be representea by an expression of the type
In
way we see that the potential of" any distribution
!lCZ+iX
o
cos u+iy sin u, u)du ..
B3
On the difi'erel1tiaJ. equations of physict.
335
The question now natnra.lly suggests itse!; whether the most general solution of Laplace's equation can be represented by an expression of this type. We shall shew that the answer to this is in the a.ffumative. For let r(x, y, 8) be any solution (singlevalued or manyvalued) of the equation Let (=01
YOI 1
Y(:&, :I,;) is regular.
:& 
0) be some point at which some branch of the function
Then if we write
Xo + X, y  Yo + 1'; ;  10 + Z it follows that for all points situated within a finite domain surrounding the point (X01 Yo, 30), this branch of the function Y(z, y, ;) can be expanded in doD. absolutely and wriformly convergent series of the form
VSubstituting
ao
+ a,. X + hl Y + '1.Z + a,X' + b, r: + c,Z' + cl: YZ + e.:ZX + ftXY + a,X' + .. "
(1 X'
.
this expansion in Laplace's equation, which can. be written
o'V
+ a y: + (1 z: + c: 
0' V
0=V
0,
and equating to zero the coefficients of the various powers or we obtain an. infinite number of line~ relations, namely a.J + b: There are
x,
Yand Z,
0, etc.
between the constants in the expansion.
!1I(nl)
_
of these relations between the
!(n+1)
w
(n+2)
coefficients of the terms of any degree n in the expansion
that only { (n+ 1) (n+2) 
!
!n(n1)}
of V; so
or (2n+ 1) of the coefficients
of terms of degree n in the expansion of V are rea.lly independent. It follows that the terms of degree 11 in V must be a. linear combination of (2n+ 1) linearly independent particular solutions of Laplace's equation, which are of degree 11 in X, ~ Z. To find these solutions, consider the expansion of the quantity
(Z+iX cos u+iYsin
as a sum. of sines and cosines of multiples of
U)71
U1
in the form
(Z+iX cos u+i Ysin 16)"  go(X, Y, Z) + gl(X, Y, Z) cos u + 9,(X, Y, Z) cos 2u + ' ,. + 9n(X, Y, Z) cos nl.£
+ hl (X,
Y, Z) sin
u
+ h (X,
2
1i
Y, Z) sin 2H
+ h (X,
8·4
+ .. ,
Y, Z) sin nu,
33$
E. T. W!!l't1'4nL
Now g",('X., Y, Z) and hmCX, Y, Z) are together characterised by the fact that the highest power of Z contained in them is Z"; moreover ,.(X, y, Z) is an even function of Y, whereas h",(X, Y, z) is an odd function of Y; and hence the (2n+~) quantities
go(X, Y, Z), gt(X, Y, Z),···,
h..(X, Y, z)
are linearly independent of each other; and they are clearly homogeneous polynomials of degree n in X, Y, Z; and each of them satis"fies Laplace's equa.tion, since the quantity (Z+iX CO! u+i Y sin u)" does so. They may therefore be taken as the (2 n+ 1) linearly independent solutions of degree " of Laplace's equation. Now since by Fourier's Theorem we have the relations
tA
9",(X, Y, Z)  ~ !CZ+iX
o
cos
u+iYsin·u)n cos mudu, u)n sin mudu,
nm(X, Y, Z) 
!!(Z+iX
()
:#
cos u+iYsin
it follows tha.t ea.ch of these (2n+ 1) solutions can be expressed in the form
211
!fCZ+.iX
o
cos
u+i Y sin w, u) drs
and therefore any linear combination of these (2n+ 1) solutions can be expressed in this form. That is, the terms of any degree n in the expansion of V can be expressed in this form; and therefore V itself CaD be expressed in the form
!
or
o
2#
F(Z+iX
cos u+i Ysinu,u)du,
.!
~#
or
o
F(z+ixcos u+iy sinuzoixo
cosuiyo
sinu, u) au,
2"
!f(Z+ix
o
cos u+iy sin
u, u) dU,
since the Zo + ixo cos U + iy sin u can be absorbed into the second argument u. Now V was taken to be any solution of Laplace's equation, with no restriction beyond the assumption that some branch of it was at some
On the differentia.! equa.tiollJ
or physics.
337
point a regular function ~ a.n assumption which is alwa.ys tacitly made in the solution of differential equations; and thus we have the result, tha.t the general solution of Laplaci s equation 01 V'
,,..
o
a:J
+ ayJ + w  0
sin u,
01 V
aJ V'
y  !f(8+iZ cos u+iy
where
14) ciu,
f is
an arbitrary function
3
of
the two arguments sin u and u.
+ iz
cos u
+ iy
Moreover, it is clear from the proof that no generality is lost by supposing that f is a periodic function of ". This Theorem is the threedimensional a.na.Iogue of the theorem that the general solution of the equation
18
.
0' V'
ozJ
+0
V_ 0 oyl
1
v
f(z+i,y)
+ g(ziy).
Solutions;
§ 3.
Deductions from the Theorem of § 2; Particular Expansions of the General Solution.
1°. Interpretation of the solution. We ma.y give to the general solution just obtained a. concrete interpretation, as follows.
Since a definite integral can be regarded as the limit of a sum, we can regard Y as the sum of an in:finite number of terms, each of the type
V,.  f,,(z+iz cos ul"+iy sin "I")
each term corresponding to some value of UI'" But this term is a solution of the equation Oll V where
axi + azi  0,
l
a
V
X,.,,_
YI"  Z1'z,
+ y sin u,., z sin ul" + y cos
x cos
1£1" UI'"
so that (X,., Yo Zr) represent coordinates derived from (x, y, z) by rotation of the axes through an angle Ur round the axis of s.
a.
358
E. T. Wmn.u:za.
Thus we see that the general soZution of Laplace's equation can be regarded as the sum of an infinite number of elementary constituents y,., each constituent being the solution of an equation '01 V' aly
'oxJ+ oziO,
f
and the a.::tes Cx,., Y,., Zr) being derived from the axes (z, y, 8) by a simple rota.tion round the axis of 8. 2°. The particular solutions in terms of Legendre functions. It is interesting to see how the wellknown particuIa.r solutions of La.place"s equation in terms of Legendre functions can be obtained as a case of the solution given in § 2. The particular solutions in question are of the form
r'
P,: (cos 8) cos 111 9'
and
r' P: (cos 8) sin
m rp
(n  0, 1,2, ... , ee ; 111  0, 1, 2, ... , n), where (r, lJ, t:p) are the polar coordinates corresponding to the rectangular coordinates (x, y, :), and where (it'sin 8 tf' + (sin!"8)
pm(cos
,.
8) =
7ll
III
Now the function
P: (cos 8)
::
2
11
"
!
d(cos
8Y"
.
111
can be expressed by the integral
P ::' (cos 8) 
(1\+ rn)(ll+lnl)···(n+l)
(1)
~
2)fr(cos 8 + i sin 8 cosrp)" cos
o
Z'
m7/J d1/1
and thus we have
r"P:(cosIJ)cosm<p
(,,+m) ("+:1)"'("+ 1)l)'i}z+ \
o
2"
iY'(x'+y') 0051/1)"
cosm1j1 cosmcpd7/1
U<;,

(''+In)(''+''~l).''(''+l)( 2#

l);rpZr' .,J '+"y"cos1j1 )"cosm (l/lrp ) yX
I
.:1.1i
1~
o

(n+m)(n+ml)
2n
... (n+l)
(1)2.
1ft
o
J
ft.(z+;xCOSt,+;yslnu)lIcosmudu. ..
1'" P:
multiple of
We see therefore that the solution
2n
(cos 8) cos m rp is a numerical
1(z+ ia: cos u+iy
o
ainu.)" cos mudu.
B7
On the dia'erential equations of phyaioa.
339
Similarly the solution r"
2"
P: (cos 8) sin m tp
is a numerical multiple of
j(3 + iz cos u + iy sin u)" sin mu duo
o
From this it is clear that in ()Tder
2:1
to e:z:press flMy solution
u)
.ff(3
o
+ iz cos 16 + iy sin u,
(I
au
of LaplaCIJ's equation, as
series of harmonic terms of the form
r" P,: (cos 9) sin mtp,
r" P: (cos 8) cos mtpand
it is only necessary to ezpand the {unction ( as a TayZor series with respect to the first. argument 3 + iz cos u + iy sin 11, and as a Fourier series with
respect to tIle second argu,ment u. As an example of this procedure, we. shall suppose it required to find the potential of a prolate spheroid in the form
211
jf(&
o
+
iz cos u + iy sin 'u, u)
au,
Let
and to expand this potential as a. series of harmonics.
=J a'
+ '!J!
+
zJ e:  0
be the equation of the surface of the spheroid; and suppose that it is a. homogeneous a.ttracting body of mass M. To find its potential, we can make use of the theorem that the potential a.t external points is the same ioini J! • 1.._ • • • as th a t 0 f a rod joining th e roci, 0f lined ensi'ty 3 .JI(e' a!z~ ; t.LJ.at 18, It 15 t
3M 811:(e:aS}~
~fdu,Jr;  ~+
: 11
y;:a cJa
4(eJa~
or
o
_
yca
(cJ:aJ_~!) d.t . IX cos 16 ly am 16
+
cJa
where B is written for z
+ ix COB'll + iy sin u.
Expanding the integrand potential in the form
~
in ascending power! of B'
1
we have thp.
3 Mj {1
!1t
o
1· 3· B
+ 3·5·
e: 
(I:
B'
+ 5.7.
(c:(lf)~ B&
+ ...
}
duo
340
E. T. W1Il'l'1'J..B:Zx,
Since
this gives the required e=pansion of the potent·ia,l of the spheroid in Legendre· iimctions, namely the series
aM{_!_. + (cJ_a'>P,
l·Sr
3·5·r"
(cos8)
+ (c'a2)'P,(coB6) + ... J.
6·7·r
This result may be mended to the case of the potential of an ellipsoid with three unequal axes, by using a. formula for the potential of an
ellipsoid given by Laguerre*)
3°. The particz£lar solutions of Laplace's equation. which involve Bessel functions. We shall next shew how the wellknown particular solutions of Laplace's equation in terms of Bessel functions can be obtained as a case of the general solution. The particular solutions in question are
of the form
ek~Jm(kQ) cos mrp
and
e}~Jm(kQ) sin mtp,
where k and m. are constants, and z, Q, rp are the cylindrical coordinates corresponding to the rectangular coordinates :c, y, s, so that
:c = Q cos gJ, YQ
sm cp.•
Now if in the solution
eizJm(kQ)
cos m<p
we replace Jm (kQ) by its value
Jm.(k~) 
! (me Jcos
11
kQ ain 8) dB,
that
o
we find after a few simple transformations
211 .
t/"J_(7cq)
cos mtp 
(~~if(·+,%·+,·.u"1 mud .. , cos
o
SID
The other solutions which involve we see therefore that the solutions
m rp, can be similarly
expressed:
, C. R., 1878.
B9
On the differential equations of physics.
341
are numerical multiples of 
1 1
t.
ei<·+;:colu+i,Ii.JU,,)
cos mu au
o
t.
ei<6+i:COIU+i."U&U)
sin mu
au
o
respecti'Dely.
It follows from this that in order to erpress any solution
1((/1 + 1:1: cos u+ iy sin
o
t.
11,
u) elu
of Laplace's equation as a sum of ek~ Jm (k ~) cos m cp
terms
of the {arm
et. J711(k ~) sin
'In cp,
and
it is only necessartJ to expand the fUlnction { in terms of exponentials of its first argument s + ix cos u + iy sin u, (mel as a Fourier series with respect to its second argument u. As an example of the use which ma.y be ma.de of these results, we shall suppose it required to express the potentialfunction JT  1 + e'
J'o (ll) + e: 2.r ~
(2 (J)
+ e: 3 ~ Jo(3 (J) + ...
(where z is supposed positive) as a series of harmonic terms of the type involving Legendre functions: and also to find a distribution of a.ttracting matter of which this in the potential, This can be done in the following wa.y. We have
 2~J
o
:"
{I
+ e1i:COI•
i,uu
+
eJ(·+i:COlu+i,WlU)
+ ...} du
But if t be any variable different from zero, and such that We have
I t I < 2;t',
+B 2 1 e t
C
1
1
1
1 2!
+BBs + % 41 6!
t t'
t4
... '
are Bernoulli's numbers. Therefore, so long as : is positive and I z + ix cos u + iy sin t£! < 2:11:i. e., so long as z is positive and X2 y! + Zl < 4:11:'we have
B'j1
where BlJ
+
B  10
342
E. T. Wa:rrr~.
I
y_!_f{ 2n
It
!#
. 1.. ; + '&.:z: cos + 11 sm
11 '&
11
+..!.+ B2;(z+i:rcosu+iysmu)
~ •
+...} au
~
i
or
r ~+ !:: rPl(COSa)Nen, since
~rP!(cos6}+
:~rP!)(cos6) + ...
and this is the Teqtt1'red expansion of Y as a series of harmonics involving Legendre functions.
we have
1 17=2n
J
o
2#
1 du [2 
. + : + 'L~
1 .' eos 11 +'Y sm
16
+~ {z
.1
..
.... +,:r; cos 11 +'Y
1
16
1
Slll U
+ 2n'&n
1]
'
or
+ z + ia: cos
+iy sin~  2nin J
and therefore
J7 can be regarded as the potential due to a set of attracting
masses placed at equal imaginary intervals 2 i1C along the axis of s . § 4.
The differential equation ~ + ~ o::r;· vy·
We shall next consider the general
02V
o!V
O'V +~ os:
o'Y k! ~t • •. 0
of wave
differential
equation
motions,
where k is a. constant. Writing kt for t, this becomes
o::r;:
O'V
+ oy: + az:
e'V
av
2

elV
otl ,
which we shall take for the present as the standard . In order to find the general solution of this procedure analogous to that of § 2. Let Y(x, '!J, (singlevalued or manyvalued) of the equation; and
B  11
form of the equation. equation, we follow a. s, t) be any solution let (X01 Yo, zo, to) be a.
Ou the dilferential equa.tions of physics.
343
place a.t which some branch' of the function Y is regular. Then if we write =  =0 + X, y  Yo + 1'; Z  .10 + Z, t  to + T, it will be possible to e:xpa.n.d this branch of the function Y as a powerseries of the form
Y  ilo
+ ~ x. + ~ Y + c,. Z + ~ T + ~ Xl + O2 Y' + C, Z'! + at T'! + ~x y + fiZZ + g" XT + h: YZ + k" YT + z" ZT + a, X' + ...,
which will be absolutely and uniformly convergent for a certain finite domain of values of X, Y, Z, T. Substituting this e:tpansion in the dilferential equation, which ma.y be written
fXi
as v
+ aYI + az' aT'"
etc.,
as T
aST
asv
and equating to zero the coefficients of various powers of X, Y and Z, we obtain an ~te number of linear relations, namely
~ + Os + ~ d"
between the constants these relations between the
in the e:xpansion. There are
! (n+l)
!(n 1)
11 (n
+ 1) of
(n+2) (n+3)
coefficients of terms
of any degree n in the expansion of Y; so that only
f {(n+1)
or
(n+2) (n+3) ~ (nl) (n+l)1.
n(n+l)}
of the coefflcients of terms of degree n in the ezpansion of Y are really independent. It follows that the terms of degree n in V must be a linear combination of (n+1)% linearly independent particular solutions of degree " in X, .Y, Z, T. To find these solutions, consider the expansion of the quantity
(X sin u cos v + Y sin flo
'U
sin v + Z cos u
+ T)fI.
If we first take the expsneion in the form
+ 91 cos v + 9% cos 2v + + 1't sin 11 + h2 sin 2v +
+ 9t1 cos 1111 + h1l sin 1111,
We have seen in § 2 that 901 91' .. " 9,., ~, .. " are linearly independent functions of X, Y, Z and T. Moreover, 9m and hm are of the form smm 'U>< a· polynomial of degree (nm) in cos u, and therefore each of them contains (nm+l) independent polynomials in X, Y, Z, T. Thus the total number of independent polynomials in X, 1'; 2, T, in the e:rpa.nsion of
"tI'
(X sin u cos v + Y sin
H
sin v
+ Z cos u + T)"
n: _ ,..,
344
E. T.
WHl'rI'~
in sines and cosines of multiples of u and v, is
or
(11+1) + 211 + 2(n1)
+ 2(n2) + ... + 2
at V' aly
at'
J
(11+1)1.
otF'
Now each of these polynomials must satisfy the equation
since the quantity
o:z:J
+ ayl + a8Z 
aly
(X sin u cos v + Y sin 'U sin v + Z cos u + T)"
does so: and therefore they may be taken as the (11+ 1)2 linearly independent solutions of the equation
alv
a.::!
+ ayl + a8
alv
aly
J 
alv
ail
which are homogeneous theorem we have
!:r
of degree n in X,
Y, Z, T. Now by Fourier's
u.  ~ rex. sin u cos v + . sin u sin v + Z cos + TY" Y :JI
1.£
cos m» dv;
o
and since 9m is of the form
where t£r is one of the polynomials in question, it is clear that gm can be expressed as a sum of sines or cosines of multiples of u, according as" m is even or odd; and the coefficient of one of these sines or cosines, say of cos su, is
It follows that each of the polynomials
Ur
can be expreesed in the form
where feu) denotes some periodic function of pressed in the form
2n :r
U;
that
19,
it can be ex
! !eXsin1.£cosv+
o
0
Ysinl.£sinv+Zco9u+Tytf(u)
cosmvdudv.
B  13
On the differential
equa.tions
or phYBics.
solutions
345 of
It follcws from this that
13 11
each of the (11+ 1)1 polynomial degree n can be expressed· in the form
j j(X
Q II
sin U C0811
+ Y sin u sin 11 + Z cos t, + T)fIfeu, 11) dud»,
where e) denotes some periodic function of u and t1; and therefore the terms of degree 11 in Y can be upressed in this form. The function Y itself can therefore be expressed in the form
211 3
feu,
j jf(X
Q
sin
U
cos 11 + Yam u sin
11
+ Z cos u + T, u,
v)dudv,
0
where
f
de:notes some function of the three arguments
.x sin u cos 11 + Y sin u sin 11 + Z cos u + T, 11,
and
and
V;
f
may without loss of generality be supposed to be periodic in u and v. Now X sin 11 cos v + Y sin t£ sin v + Z cos u + T
=:II
(x sin u coe v
 (xo sin u cose and the termo
+ y sin 11 sin v + z cos u + t) + Yo sin u sin 11 + Zo cos u + to);
v
(xo
sin t£ cos
v
+ Yo sin u sin
that
+ Zo cos + to)
1.1
can be absorbed into the arguments u and Vi moreover V was taken to be any solution of the partial differential equation; we have, therefore, on writing ~ for t, the result
OIV
the general solution of the partial 0117"
differential equation of waveJtno"tions,
ozJ
+ oyl +
V
0117"
oJ17"
OZI 
kl otl ,
18
y  j·jr(x
o
0
In n
sin u cos
+y
sin u sin v + z cos u
+ !,
'U,
v) du d»
J
where
f is an arbitrary function of the three arguments
x sin u cos v
+y
sin u sin v
+ z cos u +
!
1
U
and v.
23 B  14
346
E. T. WllIT1'~
§ 5.
Deductions from the general solution of § 4.
We shall now deduce from the general solution thus 0btained a. result relating to the analysis of those phenomena. which are represented by solutions of the equation
10. The analysis of wavemotions.
o:c' +
"If
OIV
otV
oyS
+
OIV
ozS  Jr.=
•
alv
otl
.
we revert to the fundamental idea of the defuUte integral as the limit of a. sum of an :in£.n:ite number of terms, we see that the general solution
J7 
j jr(sm
o
0
2n
"
u cos
v+
y sin u sin v+z
cos
u+ :' u, v) dw d»
number
can be interpreted as meaning of terms of the type
that Y is the sum of an infinite
r (x sin u cos v + y sin u sin v + s cos u + !'u, v),
to
every direction
In
there being one of these terms corresponding given by t!J.e directioncosines
space
sin u cos
The solution V" can therefore solutions, each of the type
.
11,
sin u sin 11,
be regarded
..
cos u. as the sum of constituent
F (x
sin u cos v
+ Y sin u sin v + z cos u + ~)
F.
where the function F varies from one direction (t£, v) to another. Now let us fix our attention on one of these constituent solutions If for some range of values of the quantity
x sin u cos v
+y
sin u sin v
+ z cos u + ~,
the function F is finite and continuous, e:l:press F by Fourier's integral formula
we can. for this range in the form
of values
!jdlj
CII
II
FCa) cos
II
{l (x sin
U C081)
+ Y sin u sin v + z cos u + !) llX} d). dar
or supposing
o
where a and b are the terminals of this range of values; the integration with respect to a to be performed,
'J~(J.):l~ o
(x sin u cos
11
+ Y sin u sin v + z cos u + ~)} dil,
of l.
where gel) denotes
some function
~
OD.the difl"enn&l equa.tions of physics
347
i
Now let us again revert to the idea of the definite integral a.s the limit of a. sum. Then this latter integral can be regarded as the sum of an infraite number of terms of the type
COl sin {
1( Z
• lUll U
cos
11
+t)} + 'Y Slll 11 sin V + z cos uk'
.,
eaeh term being multiplied by some
The solution
position of terms • simple uniform neW' a:Ds of :z: is the term becomes
depending on 1. V can therefore be regarded a.s constituted by the superof this last type. But a. term of this type represents plane wave; for on transforming the axes so that the the line whose directioncoaines are
factor sin. 14 cos e, sin 16 sin 11, cos
U,
:1(:Z:+!),
which
represents a. simple plane wave whose direction of propagation is the new axis of x . We see therefore that the general finite solution of the
. differential equ,ation of uJavemotions,
++~k0:: 0=:' oy:'
Fel, u, v)::
o:Y
oJy
a=y
., o=V
a t=
can be analysed into simple plane waves, represented by terms of the type
{l (x sin u cos 17+sin u sin 11 + z cos u + ~)J. Y
alY
It is interesting to observe tha.t Dr. Johnstone Stoney in 1897*) shewed by physical reasoning} and without any reference to the equation
0=:
+ OIV+
oy!
alv _ k: o=V
OZl at:
that aJl the disturbances of the luminiferous ether arising from sources of certain kinds c:m be resolved into trains of plane wa.ves.
2°, Solution of the equation alv OIV
0%CI"J
~+~+~+VO. 0:
oa::
a=v
If a solution W of the equation oIlY alw
+ ayl + OZl
ofy o=v
o:llY
o!lY

at:
be of the form Vei', where V is a function of x, y, z only, which does not involve t, then V clearly satisfies the equation
otv
0%2
+ oyl + ozJ + V  0,
B·16
') Philosoph. M agaz1"ne, (V) XLm.
848
E. T. WmrrAUB.
and therefore, on reference to the general solution of the wavemotion equation found in § 4, we see that the gf/neraZ solution of the eqt,anon
asv a'v asv +++VO oa: oyJ
J
OZ2
Y
j
o
ttl
11
jt(:.m'U,cau+YUzl1um.+,cou>f(u,
0
v)du d»:
go. Deduction of the h.7Iown particular solutions of the equation
a:c + oyl + ozJ + y.J
OIV
0117'
OIV
O.
0
It is known that particular solutions of the equation
!! + aJv + oJy + V _
o:cl: 011:
i)z'
emt, which are of the form
V  r ;: J
II
1
+
1
(r) pm
II
(COS
8) C?8 m«p
lUll
2
(nO,1,2",,;
mO,1,2,··.,n),
where T, 8, rp are the polar coordinates corresponding to x, y, z . We shall now shew how these may be derived from the general solution of the equation which has just been found. For let the general solution be written in the form Y
j
G
2"
jei<zsmllccu+Y.UJ.ll.luu+ZCQu., eu, e) sin f
G
11
t£
du ~v,
where feu, v) is an arbihary function of the two arguments u and v, which may without loss of generality be taken to be periodic in u and o. Now let the function fCu, v) be expanded in surfaceharmonics of u and u, so that
2n
tr
y  5,tffei(ZlinllcclfI+v.uuUilll'+,f,,:oU)
110.
YII(u, v) sin u du dv i. e., if
o
0 1l,
where Y is a surfaceharmonic of order
II
~ ... () sin u cos v, fJ = () sin u sin e, ~  () cos u, are regarded as the coordinates of a point in space, then (}1I YII(u, v) is a homogeneous polynomial of degree n in ~,111~'satisfying Laplace's equation
o!V
o~
'1:2
+ ~ + ~,.. 01}· 0:,
a'r
alv
0.
B  17
IOa the diH'ereutia.l equa.tions of physics.
349
Next, let the variables be changed by the substitution cos u  cos 8 cos
CD
+ sin 8 sin OJ cos v',
CD
sin u sin (p11)  sin sin u cos (p11)  cos
80
OJ
CD
cos v', ~ sin GJ v', f} cos CD) a.re the coordinates of the point (;, "1, ~) referred to new axes, the line whose directicncosinea are (sin fJ cos cp, sin 8 sin lfJ, cos 8) being taken as the new axis of 6.
CD
that (fJ sin
Thus
sm
sin v', sin 8  sin
!!!III !!!
I
I
cos v' cos 9,
V
110
~f'"j"r,,~co. .
.1,. ,.
Y,,(U, v) sin
CD
am dfJ'.
o
0
But a surfa.ceharmonic of any order 11. remains a surfaceharmonic of order n under any tra.nsformation of axes in which the origin is unchanged: and therefore Tli (1£, 1) is a surface harmonic of order n in OJ and 1)'; and consequently it can be expanded in the form
..4,.(8,tp)P,,(COSOl) ..4.,!(8,1}') P!(cosm)cosv' +
+ + B~ (8, cp) P~ (cosm) sin v' +
,.
+ ..4.:(8, rp) P:Ccos m) cos nv' + B:C8, cp)P:( cos e) sin nv',
+ ~;(fJ,I}')P!(cosOl)cos21)'
where All (8, cp), .. 'J B:CfJ, cp) are functions of f) and cp. Substirnting this value for Y" C1.', 1) in the integral, and performing the integration with respect to 1)', we have
V  ~ A"C8, rp) ".0 'j
o
r~reo'tIJPll(eos ..
. ~
m) sin m aco;
sad in virtue of the relation *)
f
o
"
"rCOIOJ
P" (cos CD)
sin m dGJ 
(T)
.!. ",<fIJ
2
1&
vr"
+
t
(r)
this can be written in the form
011
t
V  __ 0 r "2 J,,+! (r) (,,(8, cp) ~ where (11(8, cp) denotes some function of
f)
and cp.
Ul. So
, A proof of this and several rela.ted results will be found to be published by the author,
'0
pa.per shortly
350
E. T. W BlT'l'~n::a.
Since the surfaceharmonics Y,.C6, rp) were independent of each other, the functions f"CO, rp), will be independent of each other and therefore each of the quantities
r T J
1
11+2
1 (r)
f.(O, cp)
will be a solution of the equation
a'V'
;;:J
+ ayr + O.lJ + V rT J
1
1
(JJV
(JJV
O.
But on transforming this equation the expression
to polar coordinates, and substitutin~
(r)f.(fJ, cp)
.
.+J
for V, we find that the function f.ce, rp} must satisfy the differential equation for a. surfaceharmonic in and cp of· order n. It follows tha.t t; (8, rp) can be expanded in the form
°
f1l(0, rp)  A,. PIl (cos 6) + ..4.; cos rp P; (cos 9) + + B~ sin rp P! (cos fJ) +
and thus the particular
solutions·
1
~ ..:1,. cos ·ntp p~'(cos 8) + B: sinn4pP: (cos 6),
r 2J
are obtained.

II+T
1
(r)P;:'Ccos6)
coe am
. mcp that in 01'(7er to expand
Moreover, it is clear from the a.bove proof
any solution
V
J
o
In:
11
J~(:Uinueo'''+!I''i.DI''iU+'CO'U) 0
feu, v)
sin
t' du d»
of the equation as a series of tll.e form
...J+;; 'Y J+~+VO . 0: 0.1
• 1
o'v
a'v
a=v
~rT
,.=0
J,.+.:...(r) Y,,(9,cp),·
2
where Y,. is a surfaceharmonic of order 11 in 8 and rp, it is only necessary to expand the function feu, v) in surfaceharmonics of u and v. 4°. Expression of the solution of the equation
(PV ax:
+ oy: +
B  19
otv
a:v
OZ2
+V
0
as a series of generalised Bessel {unctions.
On the diif'erelltia.1 equations of phyriCL
S51
Another analysis of the' solutions of the equation
01V'
a~ + oyl + a + V ,::1
o'V'
01V
0,
entirely dilIerent from that given in 3°, can be found in the following wa.y. Consider the expression
6! =(..;) ('++)  !,(.+) (ti) +!. (.+ !);
if this expression be regarded as a. ftmction of s and t, it can for finite
nonzero values of s and t be expanded as a series of (positive and negative) integral powers of s and t, the coefficients in this series being fonctions of z, y and s. Let the coefficient of the term in smtt be denoted by J"",.(x, y, .I): so tha.t we ha.ve the relation.
~7:(') (t+ !) 7'(' !) (t !) +; .(.+ !) ~ !
This equation can be regarded as a generalisation
2Jm,,,(Z,y,.I)smt".
of the equation
,,oQII
which defines the ordinary Bessel functions; and we shall consequently call the functions Jm,n(X, z) generalised Bessel functions. We now proceed to establish some properties of the functions Jm,Jl(x, y, z); it will be seen tha.t they are very similar to those of the ordinary Bessel functions. In the first place, since the expression
v,
sa.mes
the equation O'V'
0:::1
+ oy2 + OZI + Y O'V o'V
O'V'
O'V'
0,
it follows that each, of the fiflnctions Jm,,,(x, y, $) satisfzes the equation
integral. By Laurent's . the expansion of
18
In the second place, we shall obtain an expression for Jm,lI ex, y, z) as
~+o" +~+VO. 0::: 'Y oZ
o'V'"
definite theorem, we know that the coefficient of r in
a.
e~z(. !) ('+ !)  :~(,!) (t+)
+~
~(,+!)
352
1
:' ~br1
f
c
E. T. WmU .. U:L U
S",l
.1 tr' z (..!.) ~
(, +.!.)  .!.. (:.!.) (I .!.) +~ (J +.!.) ds, , , • ,
y I
I
,
where C is :my simple contour in the splane surrounding the ongin, and again applying Laurent's theorem I the coeffi~ent of t" in this expression is seen to be
1
'n'
If
C
lJ
.r",1t 1S' .!.~(. _1.) ,
1I
(, +1.) .!. _.1) (, +2.) +.!.., (. + 2.) as dt ,, , ,2 •
'I (.
,
where D is any simple contour in the tplane surrounding Now write s  e=, t  e=. Thus we have the result
the ongm.
1.0hich may be regarded as the analogue of Bessel's integral J/t(:S) The functions J~71(x,y,z)
(Z+4) (,
! Jcos
o
11.
Cnu :s sin u) duo for we have
likewise possess an additiontheorem:
+b) (,(,+~)
e! !) (,++) : o !) (If) + ~ e! z(. !) (,++) : 1(' !) (1 ;) +~ • ('++) xe! 4(' !) (1++) ~b(J ~) (If) + ~~(.+!)
and so
(1++)
Equating
coefficients on both sides of this equation, we have the re$Ult
~ Jp,g (x, s, z) Jm_~.• _, (c, b, c), ;.<11,"'" which is the additiontheorem. for the generalised Bessel functions, and the analogue of the wellknown result
Jm..(x
+ a, y + b, s + c) == ~
..,
..,
IS
In(z
+ c)
..,
::II
~
Jp(z) J,,_p(c).
p= ..
B  21
011 the diHerentiaJ. equations of phyaics.
353 furnish an
We shall now shew how the generalised Bessel functions analysis of the general solution of the equation O'V
a:J + oyJ + a:r + V  o.
11) au d»,
O'V
O'V
For the general solution is, by 2°,
y
J
o
1C
,,,
J·t(z.uuco .. +r'iA'nuu+~co.,,)feu,
0
where feu,1J) can function of u and Now let the Fourier's theorem,
without loss of generality be taken to be a periodic e, function feu, v) be expanded by the extended form of in the form
f(u,v)
Then we have Y
~
m_
11
•
at
_.CD
V·UlIUillll+ $CO.,,+'" U+'*lr)
2 2 a~~j~ III~ J~
211 ?la<=
r~(ZsuJ.Ueolll+
du d»,
o
0
Comparing this with the form. just found for the generalised functions, we see that the gP:neral solution of the equation can be written
Bessel
":I:""""!+~+:ri+VO 03: uyuZ
•
V ~
71
asv
a1v
~
O'V
•
a~n Jm,71
ex, y,#),
where the quantities am, are arbitrary constants. This furDishes an alternative analysis of the solution to that given in 2°. 5°. Gravitation and Electrostatic Attraction e:xplained as modes of Wave
clisturoance.
The result of 10, namely that any solution of the equation
!.!' + ayJ asv+
o::;J
~
ozJ
..
k2 alv
at'
can be analysed into simple plane waves, throws a new light on the nature of those forces, such as gravitation and electrostatic attraction, which vary as the inverse square of the distance. For if a system of forces of this character be considered, their potential (or their component in any given direction) satisfies the equation
354
zr +
o:z;,
E. T. W EIl'rT..1.DL 3yJ
oJV'"
+ 3z'
31V'
oJV'_O
.
all"
and therefore
a fortiori
it satisD.es the. equation
aJV'
(1:z;J
+ ayJ + 3z'
alv
k
2
atl
where k is any constant. It follows from 10 that this potentiaJ (or forcecomponent) can be analysed into simple plane waves in various directions, each wave being propagated with constant velocity. These waves interfere with each other in such a way that, when the action has once been set up, the disturbance at any point does not Tar] with the time, and depends only on the coordinates eX,!/,:1) of the point. It is not difficult to construct, synthetica.1ly 1 systems of coexistent simple waves, having this property tha.t the total disturba.nce at any point (due· to the sum of a.1l the waves) varies from point to point, but does not vary with the time. A simple example of such a system in the following. Suppose that a particle is emitting spherical waves, such that the disturbance at a distance r from the origin, at time t, due to those waves whose wavelength lies between 2~~ and 2allt sin ellvt
~I'" r
EJ
:~aEJ'
is· represented
by
lItr)
where V is the velocity of propagation of the wa.ves. Then after the waves have reached the point r, so that. (V t  ·r) is positive, the total disturbance at this point (due to the sum of all the waves) is
f
o
2dEJ sin (llV't
1rP.
r
•

por) •
Take l" Ji"'t  P.T  Y 1 where !J is a new variable.
2 ;;;. y
lsmy
u
Then this disturbance is
(JiY;
j
or, since
it is
1 _. r
"The total disturbance at any point, due to this system of waves, is tlteref01'6 independent 'of the time, and is everywhere proportional to the gravitational potential due to the particle at the point.
On the differential equatioIlS of physics.
355
It is clear from the foregoing that the field of force due to a. gravitating body can be analysed, by a "spectrum analysis" as it were, into an iniinite number of constituent fields; and although the whole field of force does not vary with the time, yet each, of the constituent fie7.ds is
of an wnduZatory character, consisting of a simple wavedistur'bance propagated witT" uniform 1Jelocity. This analysis of the field into constituent
fields can most easily be accomplished by analysing the potential each attracting particle into terms of the type
sin (,..Vt  p,?')
T
~ of
as in the example already given. To each of these terms will correspond one of the constituent fields. In each of these constituent fields the potential will be constant along each wavefront, and consequently the gravitational force in each constituent field will be perpendicular to the wavefront, i e. the waves 1,()1,1Z be longitudinal.. But these results assimilate the propagation of gravity to that of light: for the undulatory phenomena just described, in which the varying vector is a. gravitational force perpendicular to the wavefront, may be compared with the undulatory phenomena made familiar by the electromagnetic theory of light, in which the varying vectors consist of electric and magnetic forces parallel to the wavefront. The waves are in other respects exactly similar, and it seems probable that an identical property of the medium ensures their transmission through space. This undulatory theory of gravity would require that gravity should be propagated with a finite velocity, which however need not be the same as that of light, and may be enormously greater. Of COlU'3e, this investigation does not explain the cause of gravity; all that is done is to shew that in order to account for the propagation across space of forces which vary as the inverse square of the distance, we have only to suppose that the medium is capable of transmitting, ~th a. definite though large velocity, simple periodic undulatory disturbances, similar to those whose propagation by the medium constitutes, according to the electromagnetic theory, the transmission of light.
B  24
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