# Coupled First-order Differential Equations

In the fascinating field of Further Mathematics, Coupled First-order Differential Equations hold an essential place as they allow us to model and analyse complex systems effectively. This comprehensive guide will help you understand coupled first-order differential equations, their key components, and various properties. Moreover, you will learn about common example problems, such as the two-mass spring system, predator-prey population models, and electrical circuit analysis. By studying the intricate relationships with linear algebra, calculation techniques, and formulas, you will be well-equipped to solve coupled first-order differential equations and analyse their respective specific scenarios. Dive into this captivating topic and unlock the potential of coupled first-order differential equations in modelling intricate systems.

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## Coupled First-order Differential Equation Explanation

A coupled first-order differential equation refers to a system of two or more first-order differential equations where the dependent variables in each equation depend on more than one independent variable. These systems are essential in modelling a wide range of real-world phenomena such as mechanical, electrical, and biological systems.

A first-order differential equation is an equation involving the first derivative of one dependent variable with respect to one independent variable.

For instance, consider a system involving two dependent variables, $$x(t)$$ and $$y(t)$$, and their first derivatives with respect to an independent variable, say $$t$$. Such a system can be written as:

$$\frac{dx}{dt} = f(t, x, y)$$

$$\frac{dy}{dt} = g(t, x, y)$$

### Key Components of Coupled First-order Differential Equations

In a coupled first-order differential equation system, there are several key components to consider:

• Dependent variables ($$x(t)$$ and $$y(t)$$ in our example)
• Independent variable ($$t$$, in our example)
• First derivatives ($$\frac{dx}{dt}$$ and $$\frac{dy}{dt}$$, in our example)
• Functions $$f(t, x, y)$$ and $$g(t, x, y)$$ representing the interactions between the dependent variables

The solution to a coupled first-order differential equation system consists of finding the functions $$x(t)$$ and $$y(t)$$ that satisfy the given system of equations.

#### Uncoupling First-order Differential Equations

Often, it is desirable to transform a system of coupled first-order differential equations into an equivalent system of uncoupled, or decoupled, differential equations. Uncoupling simplifies the manipulations and solving process by allowing us to work with single equations instead of systems of equations. >

The process of uncoupling typically involves applying linear algebra techniques such as matrix inversion or diagonalisation to transform the given system of equations into a simpler form.

However, not all systems of coupled first-order differential equations are easily uncoupled, and in many cases, numerical methods or other advanced techniques need to be utilised to find solutions.

#### Relationship with Linear Algebra

When dealing with a system of linear, homogeneous coupled first-order differential equations, the relationship between the equations and linear algebra becomes crucial.

A linear system is characterised by equations featuring linear combinations of dependent variables and their derivatives, while a homogeneous system has no terms containing the independent variable.

In such cases, the system of equations can be written as a matrix equation:

$\frac{d\boldsymbol{x}}{dt} = \boldsymbol{A}\boldsymbol{x}$

Where $$\boldsymbol{x}$$ is a column vector of dependent variables, $$\boldsymbol{A}$$ is the matrix of coefficients representing the linear interactions between dependent variables, and $$\frac{d\boldsymbol{x}}{dt}$$ is the column vector of the derivatives of dependent variables.

Linear algebra techniques, such as eigendecomposition and diagonalisation, can then be applied to solve the system of linear, homogeneous coupled first-order differential equations.

## Example Problems of Coupled First-order Differential Equations

There are numerous real-world problems that can be modelled using coupled first-order differential equations. In this section, we will explore three diverse examples: a two-mass spring system, a predator-prey population model, and an electrical circuit analysis.

### Two-mass Spring System Problem

The two-mass spring system is a classic example in mechanical engineering and physics. This system comprises two masses connected by springs and subjected to external forces, which can be modelled by the following system of coupled first-order differential equations:

$$m_1\frac{d^2x_1}{dt^2} = -k_1x_1+k_2(x_2-x_1)$$

$$m_2\frac{d^2x_2}{dt^2} = -k_2(x_2-x_1)$$

Where:

• $$m_1$$ and $$m_2$$ are the masses of the two objects
• $$x_1(t)$$ and $$x_2(t)$$ are the displacements of the two masses from their equilibrium positions
• $$k_1$$ and $$k_2$$ represent the spring constants of the two springs
• $$\frac{d^2x_1}{dt^2}$$ and $$\frac{d^2x_2}{dt^2}$$ are the second derivatives of the displacements, representing the accelerations of the two masses

To convert this system of second-order differential equations into a system of first-order differential equations, we can introduce new variables representing the velocities of the two masses:

$$v_1 = \frac{dx_1}{dt}$$

$$v_2 = \frac{dx_2}{dt}$$

Now, we can rewrite the original system as a set of four first-order differential equations:

$$\frac{dx_1}{dt} = v_1$$

$$\frac{dx_2}{dt} = v_2$$

$$m_1\frac{dv_1}{dt} = -k_1x_1+k_2(x_2-x_1)$$

$$m_2\frac{dv_2}{dt} = -k_2(x_2-x_1)$$

Solving this system of coupled first-order differential equations will provide a complete description of the two-mass spring system's behaviour over time.

### Predator-Prey Population Model

In biology, predator-prey population models are often used to describe the interactions between two species in a simplified way. The well-known Lotka-Volterra model is a system of coupled first-order differential equations representing the changes in the predator and prey populations over time:

$$\frac{dx}{dt} = \alpha x-\beta xy$$

$$\frac{dy}{dt} = \delta xy-\gamma y$$

Where:

• $$x(t)$$ represents the prey population size
• $$y(t)$$ represents the predator population size
• $$\alpha$$, $$\beta$$, $$\gamma$$, and $$\delta$$ are positive constants describing the growth and interaction rates of the populations
• $$\frac{dx}{dt}$$ and $$\frac{dy}{dt}$$ describe the rates of change of the prey and predator populations, respectively

By solving this system of coupled first-order differential equations, it is possible to determine the evolution of both predator and prey populations and analyse the stability of their interactions over time.

### Electrical Circuit Analysis

In the realm of electrical engineering, coupled first-order differential equations can be employed to analyse linear circuits with capacitors and inductors. The interactions between components in a circuit can produce multiple first-order differential equations describing the relationships between currents and voltages across components.

For example, consider a simple RLC circuit consisting of a resistor (R), an inductor (L), and a capacitor (C) connected in series. The governing first-order differential equations for this circuit are:

$$v(t) = Ri(t) + L\frac{di}{dt}+ \frac{1}{C}\int_{0}^{t} i(\tau) d\tau$$

$$\frac{dq}{dt} = i(t)$$

Where:

• $$v(t)$$ represents the voltage source
• $$i(t)$$ denotes the circuit current flowing through the components
• $$q(t)$$ is the charge stored on the capacitor
• $$\frac{di}{dt}$$ and $$\frac{dq}{dt}$$ are the first derivatives of the current and charge with respect to time, respectively
• $$\tau$$ is the integration variable

Analysing and solving this system of coupled first-order differential equations can help us explore the dynamic behaviour of the RLC circuit, its transient responses, and its steady-state performance under different conditions and parameter values.

## Properties of Coupled First-order Differential Equations

Coupled first-order differential equations display several distinct properties that can aid in understanding, analysing, and solving them. In this section, we will explore some essential properties, such as homogeneous solutions, reducible systems with constants, and stability and equilibrium points.

### Homogeneous Solutions

In the context of coupled first-order differential equations, a homogeneous solution refers to the case where the right-hand side of each equation is equal to zero. This property arises when there are no external forces or factors affecting the system. Homogeneous solutions often provide a foundation for analysing the overall behaviour of a system by considering only the coupled interactions between the dependent variables.

For a general system of coupled first-order differential equations:

$$\frac{dx}{dt} = f(t, x, y)$$

$$\frac{dy}{dt} = g(t, x, y)$$

The homogeneous solution corresponds to the following system:

$$\frac{dx}{dt} = 0$$

$$\frac{dy}{dt} = 0$$

Solving such a system typically results in one or more equilibrium points, which can shed light on the stability properties of the system.

### Reducible Systems with Constants

In some cases, systems of coupled first-order differential equations can be significantly simplified by reducing them to a single first-order differential equation with constants. This reducibility is particularly useful when examining linear systems, as it enables the straightforward application of well-established solution methods.

A reducible system of coupled first-order differential equations can often be achieved by using the following techniques:

• Substitution of one dependent variable in terms of another
• Elimination of a dependent variable through algebraic manipulation
• Integration of one or more equations to obtain a simpler expression

Upon reducing the system to a single first-order differential equation, conventional methods can be employed to solve for the remaining dependent variable, followed by back-substitution if necessary to determine the values of the other variables in the system.

#### Stability and Equilibrium Points

The analysis of stability and equilibrium points is crucial for examining a system of coupled first-order differential equations, as these points offer insights into the long-term behaviour and possible solutions of the system. Equilibrium points are locations where the system's dependent variables and their derivatives are constant, implying that the system is in a steady state. Stability refers to how the system behaves when subjected to small perturbations away from the equilibrium points. Depending on the location of these points in the phase space, a system can exhibit stable, unstable, or semi-stable behaviour.

To identify equilibrium points for a general system of coupled first-order differential equations:

$$\frac{dx}{dt} = f(x, y)$$

$$\frac{dy}{dt} = g(x, y)$$

Set the derivatives equal to zero and solve for the dependent variables $$x$$ and $$y$$:

$$f(x, y) = 0$$

$$g(x, y) = 0$$

Once the equilibrium points are known, linear stability analysis or other advanced methods can be employed to determine the stability properties of the system around these points. By doing so, one can gain a deeper understanding of the system's behaviour and derive critical insights for various applications, such as control systems, ecological modelling, and many others.

## Solving Coupled First-order Differential Equations

To solve systems of coupled first-order differential equations, we can employ several techniques, depending on the nature and complexity of the problem. In this section, we'll delve into three powerful approaches: matrix methods, diagonalisation techniques, and the Laplace transform approach.

### Matrix Methods for Solving Systems

Matrix methods can significantly aid in solving systems of linear, coupled first-order differential equations. By expressing the problem in the form of a matrix equation, we can extend linear algebra techniques to solve the system. First, we rewrite the given system of equations into a matrix equation:

$\frac{d\boldsymbol{x}}{dt} = \boldsymbol{A}\boldsymbol{x}$

Where $$\boldsymbol{x}$$ is a column vector of dependent variables, $$\boldsymbol{A}$$ is a matrix of coefficients representing the linear interactions between dependent variables, and $$\frac{d\boldsymbol{x}}{dt}$$ is a column vector of the first derivatives of the dependent variables.

Next, we can use eigenvalues and eigenvectors related to the matrix $$\boldsymbol{A}$$ to transform the system into a more straightforward form. This allows us to decouple the equations and solve every equation for each dependent variable independently.

There are several sub-methods within matrix methods:

• Inverse matrix method, which involves using the inverse matrix of the coefficients matrix, if it exists
• Eigendecomposition method, which decomposes the coefficient matrix to diagonal matrix via its eigenvalues and eigenvectors
• Matrix exponential method, which computes the matrix exponential involving matrix $$\boldsymbol{A}$$ and time variable $$t$$

These matrix-based techniques provide powerful tools to handle systems of linear coupled first-order differential equations, especially when dealing with homogeneous systems.

#### Diagonalisation Techniques

Diagonalisation is a process that transforms a matrix into a diagonal matrix through a similarity transformation. This approach significantly simplifies systems of linear coupled first-order differential equations, as diagonal matrices are easier to work with.

To apply diagonalisation techniques, we need to find the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the coefficient matrix, $$\boldsymbol{A}$$, and construct the similarity transformation matrix, $$\boldsymbol{P}$$. This is related to the eigenvectors of the original matrix $$\boldsymbol{A}$$. Assuming that the matrix $$\boldsymbol{A}$$ can be diagonalised, we can apply the following steps:

1. Find the eigenvalues ($$\lambda$$) and eigenvectors ($$\boldsymbol{v}$$) of the matrix $$\boldsymbol{A}$$
2. Form a matrix $$\boldsymbol{P}$$ consisting of the eigenvectors of $$\boldsymbol{A}$$
3. Construct the diagonal matrix $$\boldsymbol{D}$$ containing the eigenvalues of $$\boldsymbol{A}$$
4. Apply the similarity transformation $$\boldsymbol{P}^{-1}\boldsymbol{A}\boldsymbol{P} = \boldsymbol{D}$$
5. Transform the original system of equations using the similarity transformation and solve the transformed system
6. Back-substitute the solution to obtain the solutions for the original system

Diagonalisation techniques are particularly helpful for solving linear homogeneous systems, as they allow us to decouple the equations by reducing the matrix $$\boldsymbol{A}$$ to a simpler form, making the calculation process much more manageable and convenient.

#### Laplace Transform Approach

The Laplace transform is a powerful technique that converts a system of coupled first-order differential equations involving time-domain functions into algebraic equations in the Laplace domain. This approach simplifies the computations by transforming differentials and integrals to algebraic expressions, allowing us to solve an otherwise complex problem more straightforwardly.

Here are the basic steps to solve a system of first-order differential equations using Laplace transforms:

1. Derive the Laplace transform of each equation in the coupled system
2. Express the transformed equations in terms of the Laplace variable $$s$$ and the transformed dependent variables
3. Algebraically manipulate the transformed system to isolate the transformed dependent variables
4. Solve the transformed system algebraically to obtain the Laplace transforms of the solutions
5. Compute the inverse Laplace transform to regain the time-domain solutions

Though the Laplace transform approach is more suited for linear systems, it can also be applied to certain nonlinear systems using advanced techniques. The method is exceptionally valuable in handling initial value problems and analysing the transient behaviour of systems of coupled first-order differential equations.

## Formulas for Coupled First-order Differential Equations

Formulas for coupled first-order differential equations typically describe the relationships between dependent variables and independent variables, as well as rates of change. These formulas are crucial when it comes to the study, analysis, and prediction of real-world processes and phenomena. In this section, we'll explore multiple aspects of coupled first-order differential equation formulas: general solutions, particular solutions, boundary conditions, and tips for working with them.

### General Solution Formula

When dealing with a linear, constant-coefficient, homogeneous system of coupled first-order differential equations, the formulation can usually be written in matrix form:

$$\frac{d\boldsymbol{x}}{dt} = \boldsymbol{A}\boldsymbol{x}$$

Where:
• $$\boldsymbol{x}$$ is a column vector of dependent variables
• $$\boldsymbol{A}$$ is a matrix of coefficients representing the linear interactions between dependent variables
• $$\frac{d\boldsymbol{x}}{dt}$$ is a column vector of the first derivatives of the dependent variables

A general solution to such a system consists of two components:

1. The homogeneous solution, which solves the system when no external forces or factors are present
2. A particular solution that accounts for the presence of external forces or factors when they are present

Homogeneous solutions often involve finding eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the matrix $$\boldsymbol{A}$$, while particular solutions may require additional techniques such as integrating factors or Laplace transforms, depending on the specific problem structure and nature.

#### Particular Solutions and Boundary Conditions

Particular solutions refer to specific solutions to a system of coupled first-order differential equations that satisfy given boundary conditions. Boundary conditions are constraints or requirements imposed on the dependent variables at specific points in the domain of the independent variable. Such conditions are essential in uniquely determining a particular solution and can be used to study processes or phenomena at desired intervals or points.

Common boundary conditions in the context of coupled first-order differential equations include:

• Initial conditions, specifying the values of dependent variables at the initial time $$t_0$$
• Boundary value problems, specifying the dependent variables values at the endpoints of a specific interval for the independent variable
• Periodic boundary conditions, requiring the solution to repeat itself after a specified period

To find a particular solution to a system of coupled first-order differential equations, we need to impose appropriate boundary conditions and solve for the dependent variables accordingly. This may involve numerical or analytical techniques, depending on the problem's complexity and solvability.

#### Tips for Working with Coupled Equations Formulas

When working with formulas for coupled first-order differential equations, there are some tips and tricks that can help streamline the problem-solving process:

• Always aim for clarity and consistency when writing down the system of equations, ensuring that all the dependent variables, independent variables, derivatives, and coefficients are correctly represented
• Before jumping into a solution method, assess the nature and structure of the given problem to determine the most appropriate technique (e.g., matrix methods, Laplace transforms, substitution, elimination, or numerical methods)
• Consider exploiting any existing symmetries or conservation laws that may lead to simplifications or reductions in the given system of equations
• For nonhomogeneous systems or systems with time-varying coefficients, explore techniques such as variation of parameters, Green's functions, or integrating factors to find particular solutions
• Verify your solution(s) by checking whether or not they satisfy the original system of equations and any relevant boundary conditions

By adopting these strategies and maintaining a systematic approach, working with formulas for coupled first-order differential equations can become a more manageable and effective endeavour.

## Coupled First-order Differential Equations - Key takeaways

• Coupled First-order Differential Equations: systems of two or more first-order differential equations where dependent variables depend on more than one independent variable.

• Key components include dependent variables, independent variable, first derivatives, and functions representing the interactions between dependent variables.

• Examples include two-mass spring system, predator-prey population models, and electrical circuit analysis.

• Properties of coupled first-order differential equations include homogeneous solutions, reducible systems with constants, and stability and equilibrium points.

• Various methods to solve coupled first-order differential equations include matrix methods, diagonalisation techniques, and the Laplace transform approach.

#### Flashcards in Coupled First-order Differential Equations 23

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How do you numerically solve coupled differential equations?
To solve coupled first-order differential equations numerically, use methods like Euler's, Runge-Kutta, or the multistep Adams-Bashforth methods. These convert the continuous differential equations into a discrete numerical approximation, by discretising the time variable and updating values at each time step according to the method's algorithm. Implementing these methods in computer programs allows solving the system of equations efficiently and accurately.
What are the properties of coupled first-order differential equations?
Coupled first-order differential equations involve two or more interdependent variables with first-order derivatives. They often arise when modelling interacting systems or processes. Key properties are that they can be linear or nonlinear, possess initial conditions or boundary constraints, and require multivariate solution techniques.
What is the formula for solving coupled first-order differential equations?
There isn't a single formula for solving all coupled first-order differential equations. Instead, you can utilise various techniques, such as converting the system into a matrix form or diagonalising it, and then applying appropriate methods like the eigenvalue-eigenvector method or integrating factor method depending on the specific equation.
How do you solve coupled first-order differential equations?
To solve coupled first-order differential equations, first express the equations in matrix form. Next, find the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of the coefficient matrix. Then, use these eigenvalues and eigenvectors to decouple the system into two independent first-order differential equations. Finally, solve these decoupled equations and combine the solutions to obtain the general solution for the original system.
What is a coupled first-order differential equation?
A coupled first-order differential equation refers to a system of two or more interrelated first-order differential equations, where the variables in each equation depend on the variables of the other equations. These systems often arise in the study of complex physical phenomena and can be solved analytically or numerically.

## Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

What are the most common methods to solve the coupled first differential equations?

The characteristics equation of $$x_{1}^{'} = \frac{-1}{2}x_{1} + x_{2} ; x_{2}^{'} = -x_{1} - \frac{1}{2}x_{2}$$ is

What are the key components of coupled first-order differential equations?

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