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Equations

A differential equation is an equation that involves derivatives of one or more unknown func-

tions. Solving the differential equation means finding a function (or every such function) that

satisfies the differential equation. Many of the fundamental laws of physics, chemistry, biol-

ogy and economics can be formulated as differential equations. Differential equations are often

classified with respect to order. The order of a differential equation is the order of the highest

derivative present in the equation. An ordinary differential equation(ODE) is a differential equa-

tion in which the unknown function in question is a function of a single independent variable.

We shall only look at first and second order ODEs in this chapter.

We will solve the following first order ODE,

dy

= 2xy, y(0) = 2. (1)

dx

This is a rather straight forward ODE but will allow us to demonstrate the approach to

solving ODEs using Maple. Note that equation (1) is an initial value problem. This means

that we are attempting to find an exact solution depending on a particular initial condition, in

this case y(0) = 2: the value of y, when x is 0, is 2. We will first solve the problem ignoring

the initial condition and obtain a general solution to the problem. Before attempting to solve

an ODE in Maple it is necessary to “load” particular commands and functions that will be

needed. The commands for dealing with ODEs in Maple are stored in the package “DEtools”.

Additional commands for plotting ODE solution curves can be found in the package “plots”.

Therefore our first step is to load these two packages using the with command:

> with(plots):

> with(DEtools):

1

Maple: Solving Ordinary Differential Equations

The next step is to input the ODE that we are attempting to solve. Remember that the

function y depends on x and so it is necessary to input it as y(x) so that Maple is able to

recognise the dependency. We shall label equation (1) as ODE1 using the assignment operator:

> ODE1:=diff(y(x),x)=2*x*y(x);

d

ODE1 := dx

y(x) = 2 x y(x)

The command for solving an ODE is dsolve. Remember that if you are unfamiliar with

any command you can look up the help file associated with it by simply placing a question mark

(?) in front of the command and pressing enter. We shall now solve equation (1) and attempt to

obtain the general solution.

> dsolve(ODE1,y(x));

2)

y(x) = C1 e(x

This is the general solution of equation (1). Note the “ C1” is Maple’s way of representing

an arbitrary constant. In more complicated solutions this arbitrary constant might appear after

the term that it is associated with.

It is also possible to plot the solution curves of the general solution. To see a direction field

plot of the solution curves of equation (1) use the following command.

> dfieldplot(ODE1,y(x),x=-2..2,y=-2..2,color=blue,scaling=constrained,

> dirgrid=[40,40]);

The first entry in parentheses is the differential equation ODE1. The second entry names

the dependent variable y(x). The third and fourth entries give ranges for the independent and

2

Maple: Solving Ordinary Differential Equations

dependent variables: x = −2 . . 2, y = −2 . . 2. The remaining entries are options and can be

omitted if desired. It is common practice that whenever you are plotting direction fields you use

the “scaling = constrained” option as otherwise the graph will appear misleading because the

direction lines will be distorted.

We can take an initial condition into account using Maple and determine an exact solution that

depends on the initial condition. Solving an ODE that has an initial condition is again done

using the dsolve command. Using the initial condition presented in equation (1) we shall now

determine an exact solution to the ODE.

> dsolve({ODE1,y(0)=2},y(x));

2)

y(x) = 2 e(x

If we wish to plot a particular solution curve then we use the command DEplot. DEplot

will plot the direction field lines as well as the particular solution line depending on the initial

condition.

> DEplot(ODE1,y(x),-2..2,[y(0)=2],linecolor=magenta,color=blue,

> arrows=LINE);

If you do not want the direction field plotted with the particular solution, you use the option

“arrows=NONE” in the DEplot command.

3

Maple: Solving Ordinary Differential Equations

Solving Second Order ODEs using Maple

We will start by solving the following second order constant coefficient homogeneous equation.

00 0

y + 2y + 10y = 0.

This equation is homogeneous because all the terms that involve the unknown function y and

its derivatives appear on the left hand side of the equation and the right hand side is zero. We

will start by entering the above equation into Maple. Recall that the packages “DEtools” and

“plots” will also be required to solve second order ODEs and so will have to be added at the

start as we did in the First Order example.

> eq1 := diff(y(t),t,t) + 2*diff(y(t),t) + 10*y(t) = 0;

2

eq1 := ( dtd 2 y(t)) + 2 ( dtd y(t)) + 10 y(t) = 0

Recall that diff(y(t),t,t) will give you the second derivative of y(t). We will again

use the dsolve command to solve the differential equation. The first argument is the differential

equation that we are solving (eq1) and the second is the function to be found (y(t)). Recall from

the previous example that when we use the dsolve command it gives us a solution of the form

“unknown variable = solution”. If we only wish to see the solution we can use the rhs command

to display the right hand side only. We shall save the solution in the variable “sol1”.

> sol1 := rhs(dsolve(eq1,y(t)));

sol1 := C1 e(−t) sin(3 t) + C2 e(−t) cos(3 t)

Recall that “ C1” and “ C2” are Maple’s way of representing arbitrary constants.

The next step will be to solve a second order ODE that includes initial conditions. Every second

order ODE will have two initial conditions. We shall now solve the original second order ODE

based on the following initial conditions:

00 0 0

y + 2y + 10y = 0, y(0) = 3, y (0) = −5.

Use the dsolve command to solve the ODE based on the initial conditions. Save the solution

in the variable sol2.

> sol2 := rhs(dsolve({eq1,y(0)=3,D(y)(0)=-5},y(t)));

2

sol2 := − e(−t) sin(3 t) + 3 e(−t) cos(3 t)

3

We now have the exact solution of the equation. Plotting the solution might make it easier

to understand what is going on. We simply use the plot command to plot sol2.

4

Maple: Solving Ordinary Differential Equations

> plot(sol2,t=-1..6,labels=["t","y"]);

We shall now look at how to solve an inhomogeneous second order ODE with initial conditions.

Consider the following problem:

00 0 0

y + y + y = t2 cos(2t), y(0) = 0, y (0) = 2.

As before our first step is to enter the equation into Maple ignoring the initial conditions.

We shall label our new ODE as eq2.

> eq2 := diff(y(t),t,t) + diff(y(t),t) + y(t) = t^2*cos(2*t);

2

eq2 := ( dtd 2 y(t)) + ( dtd y(t)) + y(t) = t2 cos(2 t)

We can again solve this second order ODE using the dsolve command. We shall call our

solution sol3.

> sol3 := rhs(dsolve(eq2,y(t)));

√ √

(− 2t ) 3t (− 2t ) 3t 1

sol3 := e sin( ) C2 + e cos( ) C1 + (338 t2 + 832 t − 1212) sin(2 t)

2 2 2197

1

+ cos(2 t) (336 − 507 t2 + 1118 t)

2197

5

Maple: Solving Ordinary Differential Equations

This solution is more complex than in the previous example due to the inhomogeneous

terms on the right hand side of the problem. We now solve the initial value problem taking into

account our initial conditions. Again this is done quite easily using the dsolve command. We

label the solution of the initial value problem sol4.

> sol4 := rhs(dsolve({eq2,y(0)=0,D(y)(0)=2},y(t)));

√ √

3688 (− t ) 3t √ 336 (− t ) 3t

sol4 := e 2 sin( ) 3− e 2 cos( )

2197 2 2197 2

1 1

+ (338 t2 + 832 t − 1212) sin(2 t) + cos(2 t) (336 − 507 t2 + 1118 t)

2197 2197

Even taking the initial conditions into account this answer is quite complicated and so a plot

of the above function might make it easier to see the overall nature of the solution curve.

> plot(sol4,t=0..18,labels=["t","y"]);

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