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MAT 239 (Differential Equations, Prof. Swift) §3.7 and 3.

8: Oscillators and Complex Numbers
Topics: Oscillators without external force. The R, δ description of oscillator solutions. The polar form of complex numbers. Driven oscillators. Oscillators: For most of you, the reason you are required to take this class is so that you can solve the DEs describing oscillators. Suppose that m is the mass of an oscillator, γ is the damping constant, and k is the spring constant. If there is no external force, then the DE for the position of the mass, u(t), is γ 2 mu′′ + γu′ + ku = 0, or u′′ + u′ + ω0 u = 0, m √ where ω0 = k/m is the natural frequency of the oscillator. It turns out that ω0 is the frequency of the undamped oscillations when γ = 0, but remember that ω0 is defined even if the oscillator is damped (i.e. γ > 0). Recall that the weight is not the mass. The weight is W = mg . In English units, g = 32ft/sec2 , so the mass m = W/g has units [lb sec2 /ft]. Furthermore, γ has units [lb sec/ft], and k has units [lb/ft]. Things are more straightforward in metric units. Assuming that m and k are positive, and γ ≥ 0, the roots of the characteristic equation, and the resulting motion of the oscillators, fall into four classes: γ = 0, Undamped: roots ±iω0 . √ 2 0 < γ < 2mω0 , Underdamped: roots − 2γ ω0 − ( 2γ ± iµ , where µ = )2 < ω0 m m = −ω0 , with multiplicity 2 γ = 2mω0 , Critically Damped: roots − 2γ m √ 2 γ > 2mω0 , Overdamped: two distinct real, negative roots − 2γ ± ( 2γ )2 − ω0 . m m One goal of this handout is to get a better understanding of the motion in the undamped and underdamped cases. The R, δ description of oscillator solutions. The general solution of the undamped oscillator can be written in two equivalent ways: u(t) = C1 cos(ω0 t) + C2 sin(ω0 t) = R cos(ω0 t − δ ), where the constants C1 , C2 , R and δ satisfy the equations C1 = R cos δ, C2 = R sin δ. (2) (1)

The constants C1 and C2 are usually better for initial value problems, but the second form of the solution in equation (1) is easier to understand. The amplitude of the oscillation is R, and δ gives a phase shift. Every solution is periodic with period T = 2π/ω0 . In the underdamped case, the general solution is u(t) = e− 2m t (C1 cos µt + C2 sin µt) = R e− 2m t cos(µt − δ ).
γ γ

√ The amplitude of the oscillation is R = 3. Now draw a picture of the point (−1.) Therefore. This identity can. the relationship between the rectangular form and the polar form is given by equation (2): C1 = R cos δ and C2 = R sin δ . Plot the two expressions as y 1 and y 2. and should. δ ). Recall from §3. (3) γ . we must have ω0 = 3. First of all. Given R and δ . If we know C1 and C2 . and want R and δ . The Polar Form of Complex Numbers: A complex number z = C1 + i C2 can be written in polar form z = Reiδ . the formula for tan(δ ) does not determine δ . (Recall that −1 ≤ cos(µt − δ ) ≤ 1. C2 ) √ plane. shown that −1 + i = 2e √ u(t) = − cos(3t) + sin(3t) = 2 cos(3t − 3π/4). C2 ) to polar coordinates (R. Since C1 + i C2 = R eiδ = R(cos δ + i sin δ ). The polar coordinates of 2 and δ = 3π/4. 1) in the (C1 . The reverse procedure is not so easy. and continuing from the last equation we get ( ) u(t) = Re R e−iδ eiω0 t ( ) = R Re ei(ω0 t−δ) = R cos(ω0 t − δ ) This completes the proof of equations (1) and (2). it is easy to find C1 and C2 . (We have also this point are easily obtained from geometry: R = √ i3π/4 . C2 ) in the plane to help you determine δ .) We call µ the quasi frequency. tan(δ ) = . be checked with a calculator.The envelope of the decaying oscillation is u(t) = ±R e− 2m t . then δ = arctan(C2 /C1 ) + π . since the motion “sort of” repeats after time Td . It is not always true that δ = arctan(C2 /C1 ).4 that when the roots of the characteristic equation are r = ±i ω0 the general solution to can be written as a linear combination of the real and imaginary parts of the complex solution u(t) = eiω0 t : ( ) ( ) u(t) = C1 Re eiω0 t + C2 Im eiω0 t = C1 cos ω0 t + C2 sin ω0 t = Re [(C1 − i C2 )(cos ω0 t + i sin ω0 t)] Note the minus sign! ( ) = Re (C1 − i C2 )eiω0 t Now. You should see the graph of y 2 drawn on top of the graph of y 1. with either y 1 dotted or y 2 thick. if we choose R and δ so that C1 + i C2 = R eiδ then C1 − i C2 = R e−iδ . I will now prove equations (1) and (2). Example: Write u = − cos 3t + sin 3t in the form u = R cos(ω0 t − δ ). Equations (2) and (3) say the same thing. If δ is in the second or third quadrant. we have the formulas √ C2 2 2 R = C1 + C2 . then tan(δ ) is undefined. C1 The formula for R is wonderful. They relate rectangular coordinates (C1 . If C1 = 0. Draw a picture of the point (C1 . Then observe that C1 = −1 and C2 = 1. But. and Td = 2π/µ is the quasi period. where R is the radius and δ is the phase of z .

. u′ (0) = 0. The envelope of the solution with k = 10 can be obtained from the trig identities cos(A ± B ) = cos(A) cos(B ) ∓ sin(A) sin(B ).4 0. ω ̸= ω0 = k/m. ω = ω0 .6 k 10 0. This problem can be solved by the method of undetermined coefficients.Driven Oscillators: The most important problems involving oscillators have a forcing (or driving) term on the right hand side: We will focus on the problem mu′′ + γu′ + ku = F0 cos(ωt). and k > 0.2 0. We separate the problem into three cases: √ Case I: γ = 0. Case III: γ > 0 Examples of Case I and II: Solve the IVPs u′′ + ku = cos(3t). The solutions are u(t) = − cos( 10t) + cos(3t). This is quite easy when γ = 0. with k = 10 (Case I) and k = 9 (Case √ II). Here are some graphs of solutions.6 1 2 3 4 u k 9 t Figure 1: The solutions to the IVPs for a short time interval.2 0. and u(t) = 1/6 t sin(3t).6 0. u(0) = 0. Case II: γ = 0. respectively.6 0. (4) where m > 0. but it’s a mess when γ > 0.4 0.2 0. γ ≥ 0. The solutions look almost identical.2 t 1 2 3 4 0.4 0. u 0.4 0. u 2 k 1 t 10 1 2 20 30 40 2 4 6 10 6 4 2 u k 9 t 10 20 30 40 Figure 2: The solutions to the IVPs for a longer time interval.

However. we can get a feeling for them by considering limits and drawing figures.7. R → 0 as ω → ∞. Nonetheless. γ . we get a system of two linear equations for A and B which have the solution 2 F0 m(ω0 F0 γω − ω2) A= 2 2 . which is 38. Note that B > 0. Figure 2 (k = 10) shows the phenomenon of “beats. B= 2 2 .0811: √ u(t) = − cos( 10t) + cos(3t) = 2 sin(A t) sin(B t) = [2 sin(B t)] sin(A t) The “carrier” wave is sin(A t) which has period 2π/A ≈ 2. 2 2 2 2 m (ω0 − ω ) + γ ω m (ω0 − ω 2 )2 + γ 2 ω 2 √ Note that these expressions use ω0 = k/m. and a particular solution in this case is Up (t) = F0 /k . This makes sense. Case III: This is the most important case. The inverse cosine function gives an angle in quadrant I or II. since the oscillator is damped (γ > 0). The general solution to equation (4) is u(t) = uh (t) + Up (t) where uh (t) → 0 as t → ∞. B form of the particular solution is substituted into equation (4). The envelope is plotted as a dotted line in Figures 1 and 2. and Q = ω0 γ . The steady state solution. Any oscillators you will run into will have some damping.7. so that A = √ √ ( 10 + 3)/2 ≈ 3. 2 sin(B t) has period 2π/B ≈ 77. make the expressions for A and B look complicated. even though the oscillator is damped. where 10 > 3: − cos(A + B ) + cos(A − B ) = 2 sin(A) sin(B ) √ Applying this to our problem with A + B = 10 and A − B = 3. so the best expressions are ( ) 2 F0 m(ω0 − ω2) R= √ . All of the constants m. things are much simpler if we define two dimensionless quantities: x= mω0 ω . Now.4. as described in in §3. etc. The “rectangular coordinates” A and B can be converted to “polar coordinates” R and δ . the response has A → F0 /k and B → 0. also called the forced response. Note that as ω → 0.4.We can √ combine these together.08 and B = ( 10 − 3)/2 ≈ 0. because the right-hand side of (4) is F0 when ω = 0.” wherein the amplitude of the oscillation varies with a period of half of 77. √ anticipating that we want an identity for u(t) = − cos( 10t) + cos(3t). has the same frequency as the driving term: Up (t) = A cos(ωt) + B sin(ωt) = R cos(ωt − δ ) If the A. Furthermore. δ = arccos √ 2 2 m2 (ω0 − ω 2 )2 + γ 2 ω 2 m2 (ω0 − ω 2 )2 + γ 2 ω 2 These expressions for the forced response are quite complicated. so δ is in quadrant I or II.04 and the “envelope” is u(t) = ±2 sin(B t).

Rm ).5 1.5 0. The amount of damping is measured by the so-called oscillator Q. given by ( ) F0 1 Q F0 1 2 √ .25 1. As Q → ∞. with a maximum value of Rm . The approximate expression for Rm is good for Q large.75 2 Figure 4: The phase √ δ of the steady state response as a function of x = ω/ω0 for Q = 10. x is the ratio of the driving frequency (ω ) to the natural frequency (ω0 ).75 2 Figure 3: The scaled amplitude (Amp = Rk/F0 ) of the steady state response as a 1 1 . Amp 10 5 2 1 x 0.5 0. since it can be shown that (µ/ω0 )2 = 1 − 1/Q2 .75 1 1. 1/ 2.Here. the phase approaches the step function δ = 0 if x < 1 and δ = π if x > 1. 2. or quality factor. ∆ Π 3Π 4 Π 2 Π 4 x 0. the expression for R is more understandable: R= F0 1 √ 2 k (1 − x )2 + (x/Q)2 If we treat Q as a constant. and 1/3. The dotted line goes through the function of x = ω/ω0 for Q = 10. (xm . . With these two variables x and Q. 2. 5. A high Q oscillator has very little damping. and 3 2 maxima of the curves.25 0. 5.25 0. then R as a function of x is a maximum at xm . √ . Rm = xm = 1 − ≈ Q+ 2Q2 k k 8Q 1 − 1/(2Q)2 provided that Q2 ≥ 1/2.25 1. Note that x2 m is half way between 1 (when ω = ω0 ) and the square of the quasifrequency µ.5 1.75 1 1.

it is quite easy using (what else?) complex numbers. and it’s not really very hard.) Extra Credit: Use either of these complex number methods to justify the general formulas (10).Finding the Steady State Oscillator Response Using Complex Numbers: The standard method of calculating of A and B in the particular solution is truly gruesome. However. The steady state solution is (4 − ω 2 )2 + ω 2 (4 − ω 2 )2 + ω 2 4 − ω2 ω Up (t) = cos( ωt ) + sin(ωt) (4 − ω 2 )2 + ω 2 (4 − ω 2 )2 + ω 2 ˆ be a complex Alternative Method: The way to really do these problems is to let A amplitude and write ˆ iωt ) = Re(A ˆ) cos(ωt) − Im(A ˆ) sin(ωt) Up (t) = Re(Ae Then the previous problem becomes: ˆ(−ω 2 + i ω + 4)eiωt = eiωt . and (12) in §3. Example: Find a particular solution to L[u] = u′′ + u′ + 4u = cos(ωt) To find the particular solution. −ω 2 + i ω + 4 4 − ω2 + i ω (4 − ω 2 )2 + ω 2 4 − ω2 ω Therefore A = and B = . This is worth 5 class points. The operator L[(A − i B )eiωt ] is easily computed. The ODE (4) has the form ( ) L[u(t)] = mu′′ + γu′ + ku = Re F0 eiωt where L is a linear operator. we just have to solve L[(A − i B )eiωt ] = F0 eiωt .8 of the book. The result is (A − i B )(−ω 2 + i ω + 4)eiωt = eiωt . Due in class on the review day for Exam 2. since A and B are constants. We look for a solution of the form ( ) Up (t) = A cos(ωt) + B sin(ωt) = Re (A − i B )eiωt When we plug this into the ODE to find Up (t). we need to solve L[(A − i B )eiωt ] = eiωt for A and B . We can divide both sides by eiωt to get (A − i B )(−ω 2 + i ω + 4) = 1. −ω 2 + i ω + 4 4 − ω2 + i ω (4 − ω 2 )2 + ω 2 This gives the same solution as before. (11). . A or ˆ= A 1 1 4 − ω2 − i ω = = . or (A − i B ) = 1 1 4 − ω2 − i ω = = . (These two methods are almost the same.