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Applications of First Order D.E.

Geometric Applications

Families of Curves

The equation of a family of curves may be found by means of its slope.

For the function y = f(x),

slope of the tangent line


slope of the normal line

y y2 y1

x x2 x1

slope =
Examples: Solve the following:
1. Find the equation of a family of curves and the equation of the
particular curve passing through (-2,1) if the slope of the tangent at
any point is 3x2 + 4x. ANS. y=x +2 x +C , C=1
2. Find the equation of a family of curves if its normal line at any point
passes through the origin.
3. What is the equation of the family of curves if the tangent line, from
the point of tangency to the point where it crosses the x-axis, is
bisected by the y axis.

Orthogonal Trajectories

Definition: Orthogonal Trajectories

If a curve intersects each member of a family of curves at a constant angle of
90, then the curve is called an orthogonal trajectory of the family of curves.
is the slope of the family of curves, then is the slope of the
orthogonal trajectory.

Steps In Finding the Orthogonal Trajectories

1. Find the differential equation of the given family. (Eliminate the arbitrary
2. Replace
with . This is the differential equation of the orthogonal
3. Solve the resulting differential equation.
Example: Find the orthogonal trajectories of each of the following:
1. x 3y = C. Draw the figure.
2. Circles through the origin with centers on the x axis. Draw the figure. HW
3. y ( x2 + k ) + 2 = 0
4. x = C exp (-y2) Ans. y=C e .

5. Ellipses with centers at (0,0) and two vertices at (1,0) and (-1,0).
6. y = k ( csc x + cot x)
Physical Applications

Laws of Growth and Decay

The rate at which the amount of a substance changes is proportional to the
quantity of substance present at any time.

Let x = quantity (amount) of substance present at any time t

t = time
k = proportionality constant
= rate of change

Rate Equation:


General Solution:

= kx

x = Cekt

Example : Solve the following:

1. The population of a city doubles in 50 years. In how many years will it
be four times as much? Assume that the rate of change is proportional
to the number of inhabitants. ANS 100 yrs.
2. A certain substance decomposes at a rate proportional to the to the
amount present. If one-third of it disappears after 1000 days, what is
the percentage lost in 100 days?
3. Thirty percent of a radioactive substance disappears in 15 years.
Find the half-life of the substance. ANS. 29.15 yrs
Note: Half-life

, t 1 /2

is the time at which the amount of substance is

one half of the original amount, equivalently,

x=0.5 x o

4. Sugar decomposes in water at a rate proportional to the amount still

unchanged. If there were 50 lb of sugar present initially and at the end
of 5 hours this is reduced to 20 lb, how long will it take until 90% of the
sugar is decomposed?
5. Water leaks from a cylinder at a rate proportional to the square root of
the volume remaining at any time. If initially there are 64 gallons
present and 15 gallons leak out on the first day, how much will be left
after 4 days? When will there be 25 gallons? HW

Temperature Change (Newtons Law of Cooling/Heating)

Newtons law of cooling or heating states that the rate at which the
temperature of a body decreases or increases is proportional to the
difference between the temperature of the body and that of the medium.
Let T = temperature of the body at any time t

Tm = Temperature of the medium

t = time
k = proportionality constant
k =+ ( heating ) , k=( cooling)


= rate of change

Rate Equation:
General Solution:


(T Tm)



= k (T Tm)

T = Tm + Cekt

Example: Solve the following:


If a thermometer in which the temperature is 75 0 is

taken from a room where the temperature is 35, and the
thermometer reading is 65 after 30 sec, a) how long after the
removal will the reading be 50? b) What will be the thermometer
reading 3 minutes after the removal?


At 1:00 pm, a thermometer reading 70 F is taken

outside where
the air temperature is - 10 F. At 1:02 pm, the reading is 26 F. at 1:05
pm, the thermometer is taken back indoors where the air is at 70 F.
What is the thermometer reading at 1:09 pm? HW

A body at a temperature of 50 F is placed in an

oven whose temperature is kept at 150 F. If after 10 minutes the
temperature of the body is 75 F, find an expression for the temperature
at any time and find the time required for the body to attain a
temperature that is within a half degree of the oven temperature.