You are on page 1of 4

1

The ( ) ( ) 0 ' '


2
= + x x , l x < < 0 , together with linear and homogeneous boundary
conditions ( ) 0 0 ' = , ( ) 0 ' = l is termed as an Eigenvalue Problem. The solution to
this Eigenvalue Problem is bound to the value of the parameter
2
and more
specifically those values for which non-zero (non-trivial) solutions may exist. These
values of
2
are called Eigenvalues and the corresponding solutions ( ) x
Eigenfunctions.
It is well known that the general solution to the Eigenvalue problem
( ) ( ) 0 ' '
2
= + x x

is ( ) x B x A x sin cos + =

for 0 > and ( ) D Cx x + = for 0 = . On
imposing the prescribed boundary conditions the Eigenvalues are obtained as
2
2
|

\
|
=
l
n
n

with the associated Eigenfunctions ( ) , 3 , 2 , 1 , , cos = = n x x
n n
and
2
0

with the associated Eigenfunctions ( ) 1
0
= x . The Eigenvalue problem therefore has
a solution
( )
( )

= = |

\
|
=
= =
, 3 , 2 , 1 , , cos
1 0
2
2
0
2
0
n x x
l
n
x
n n n


Illustration (Potential in a Disk)
Find the cross-sectional steady-state potential distribution at any point in a circular
disk of radius c r = given that the

potential at the surface of the disk is given by
( ) ( ) f c v = ,

assuming that the potential gradient in the longitudinal plane of the disk
is zero.
Solution
To solve the potential equation 0
2
= v in a disk it is natural to use cylindrical
coordinates ( ) z r , , in terms of which the dick is described by c r < < 0 .
Since in this case v is specified at the boundary, it is a Dirichlet Problem (Would
have Be a Neumann Problem if

n
v

-the directional derivative in the direction normal


or perpendicular to the boundary). In cylindrical coordinates the potential equation
0
2
= v is given by 0
1 1
2
2
2
2
2
=

+ |

\
|

z
v v
r r
v
r
r r
.
2

Since the potential gradient in the longitudinal plane of the disk is zero in this case,
the Dirichlet Problem on the disk is 0
1 1
2
2
2
=

+ |

\
|

v
r r
v
r
r r
, c r < < 0 , < < ,
( ) ( ) f c v = ,
,
< < . It is imperative to observe and note here that in the
formulation of this Dirichlet problem, since 2 + and refers to the same point, is
restricted to the interval < < . However, it is instructive to observe and note that
= is not a boundary condition in the traditional sense since the environment
doesnt affect v at that point. Therefore to insure that introduction of the false
boundary doesnt cause a discontinuity in v and its derivates, ( ) ( ) = , , r v r v
,
c r < < 0 and ( ) ( )

, , r
v
r
v
,
c r < < 0 .
Observe that the Governing PDE is Linear and Homogeneous inv

and its derivatives
and furthermore the Boundary conditions on are also line and homogeneous in v

and its derivatives. Therefore, the Method of Separation of Variables can be
methodically applied to postulate a separable product solution
( ) ( ) < < < < = , 0 , . ) , ( c r r R r v .
Differentiating, substituting and dividing by the product . R
,
yield
( )
( )
( ) ( )
( ) r R
r rR r ' ' ' '
=

.

With the reasoning that the common value of these two fractions must be a constant, say
with the possibilities that 0, 0, 0 or < = > .
Evidently, the boundary condition ( ) ( ) f c v = ,
,
< < will have to be satisfied with
a linear combination of solutions hence considering
( )
( )

' '
investigations ascertain
that for non-trivial solutions 0 . Hence the Eigenfunctions are sought for
0 ' '
2
= +

with the boundary conditions ( ) ( ) =
,
c r < < 0 and ( ) ( ) = '
,
and

( ) 0 ' '
2
= R rR r , c r < < 0 .
The non-Trivial solution solutions to the Eigenvalue problem 0 ' '
2
= + ,
( ) ( ) =
,
c r < < 0 , ( ) ( ) = '

are:
3

( )
( )

= = =
= =
, 3 , 2 , 1 , , sin cos
1 0
2 2
0
2
0
n x or x x n
x
n n n n


With the knowledge that , 3 , 2 , 1 , 0 ,
2 2
= = n n
n
the function ( ) r R can now be easily
determined from ( ) 0 ' '
2
= R n rR r , c r < < 0

or 0 ' ' '
2 2
= + R n rR R r , c r < < 0

when the
indicated differentiations are carried out.
The ODE 0 ' ' '
2 2
= + R n rR R r is traditionally known as the Cauchy-Euler equation with
several solution techniques the most popular proceeds by making the substitution
t
e r =
there by transforming the ODE into a simple ODE 0
2
=

R n R general solution is well know
to be ( )
nt nt
De Ce t R

+ = where C and D are arbitrary constants and hence
( )
n n
Dr Cr r R

+ = , c r < < 0
is the general solution to the Euler-Cauchy Equation
0 ' ' '
2 2
= + R n rR R r . The solution
n
r

is discarded because as 0 r (at the centre of the


disk) for , 3 , 2 , 1 , 0 = n the term
n
r and this is not realistic meaning that the arbitrary
constant 0 = D for a bounded solution given the physical nature of the problem at hand.
Therefore the general linear combination of solutions may have the form
< < < < + + =


=

=
, 0 , sin cos ) , (
1 1
0
c r n r B n r A A r v
n
n
n
n
n
n
.
At the boundary c r =
,
< < + + =


=

=
, sin cos ) (
1 1
0
n
n
n
n
n
n
n c B n c A A f
This is a Fourier series problem solved by choosing:
( )

d f A
2
1
0

( ) , 3 , 2 , 1 , cos
1
= =

n d n f
c
A
n
n


( ) , 3 , 2 , 1 , sin
1
= =

n d n f
c
B
n
n



4

Exercise
Find the cross-sectional steady-state potential distribution at any point in a circular
disk of radius m r 1 = given that the

potential at the surface of the disk is given by
( ) ( ) f c v = ,

assuming that the potential gradient in the longitudinal plane of the disk
is zero. Consider
( )

< <
< <
< <
=

2
, 0
2 2
, 1
2
, 0
f

Answer:

< < < < |

\
|
+ =

=
, 1 0 , cos
2
sin
2
2
1
) , (
1
2
r n r
n
n
r v
n
n