# Royal Holloway University of London Department of Physics

*Royal Holloway University of London Department of Physics*

**Series Solutions of ODEs – 1b**

**the simple case – further examples**

## The J0 Bessel function

The equation for J0 Bessel is the zeroth order Bessel equation

.

The “standard form” of differential equations is often specified as having the coefficient of the highest order derivative cancelled through. Thus in standard form the equation would be written

.

Our procedure for the series solution of this equation is to take the assumed series

and substitute it into the equation. This involves using the first and second derivatives

and

In the expression for the second derivative we have (as in the sine/cosine case above) shifted the dummy summation variable by 2 so that the sum expression contains xn explicitly.

So far we have left the sum for the first derivative unchanged. The point here is that what the differential equation contains is , and the expression for this must be written as a sum in xn. For this reason we shift the dummy variable in the series for the first derivative by 2:

so that

.

We now substitute the series expressions into the original differential equation:

.

The term in the second sum may be treated separately. In that case everything else falls within a sum over n from 0 to .

.

As we argued in the previous example, this expression is valid for all values of the independent variable x, so that each power of x must vanish separately.

Look at the –1 term first. The requirement that this term vanish means that

.

Now look at the general case:

.

This may be tidied into

,

which gives a recurrence relation for the coefficients:

.

We may now build up the coefficients from the term. Starting from we find

.

Now putting gives

and so on. We see that the coefficients of all the even powers of x are given in terms of and we obtain the solution to the ODE as

.

The series specifies the J0 Bessel function:

.

So the solution to the ODE which we have discovered is a constant times the J0 Bessel function

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Thus far this is quite good; we have discovered a new function which solves the above differential equation. But it is a second order differential equation and therefore, as with the previous SHO equation, there should be two independent solutions. Where is the other solution?

When we examined the solution of the wave equation for a drumhead we found the separated radial equation took the form of the zeroth order Bessel equation. And at that stage we simply noted that Mathematica gave, as independent solutions to that equation, the two zeroth order Bessel functions J0(x) and Y0(x). We plotted the functions and the behaviour of the functions in the vicinity of x = 0 gives us an important clue about the “other” solution.

J0(x) and Y0(x) Bessel functions

The J0(x) function goes to 1 as x goes to 0. This we see on the plot and we have discovered this in the series solution. The Y0(x) function, on the other hand, looks as if it is heading for minus infinity as x goes to 0. That is the problem.

Recall the point made when we introduced the power series method. A series

will only work when the function is “well behaved”. This is OK for J0(x), but going off to infinity is an example of “bad behaviour”; then a simple power series won’t work. We will see how to overcome this in a later section.

The important concepts of this section are:

- The simple power series method works only for “well-behaved” functions; it cannot cope with “badly-behaved” functions.
- The basic idea is to substitute the power series into the differential equation.
- With a slight juggling of the dummy summation variables the equation is cast into the form . Special care must be taken with the first derivative term.
- Each power of x must equate to zero.
- The term in x-1 must be treated separately; this tells us that there is no simple series in odd powers of x. The series method is only going to give us one solution to the ODE, which is even in x.
- Equating the general term in xn to zero gives a recurrence relation for the coefficients.
- We build up one solution to the ODE from the a0 coefficient.
- A 2nd order ODE has two independent solutions; where is the other? We recognise that the simple power series method can’t cope with it as it is “badly-behaved”.
- Properties of the J0 function are obtained from the series solutions and the original ODE.

## Legendre’s equation

Legendre’s equation follows from separating the laplacian in spherical polar coordinates. This equation arises from the separated equation in the polar angle . Legendre’s equation is

.

In this equation n is often a positive integer; we will explore this a little later.

As before, we start with a power series expression for the function

Now, however, we will use Mathematica to obtain the recurrence relation for the coefficients. This is outlined in the Mathematica Notebook “Legendre”. The recurrence relation is

.

A series in even powers of x will be built up from a0 and a series in odd powers of x will be built up from odd powers of x. The general solution to the Legendre equation is thus

where

Often n is a positive integer. In that case: if n is even then the series for will terminate at the xnterm, while if n is odd then the series for will terminate at the xnterm. These solutions, normalised to , are called the Legendre polynomials, denoted by . The first few are given by

They are plotted in the following figure

First few Legendre polynomials

When n is an integer one series solution of the Legendre terminates and we thus have the Legendre polynomials The other series solution does not terminate. These are denoted by , and they can be expressed in terms of logarithms:

They are plotted in the following figure

First few Legendre Qn functions

The general solution of the Legendre equation will be

.

But note that has a logarithmic divergence at ; the only well-behaved solutions of Legendre’s equation for integer n are the Legendre polynomials

The important concepts of this section are:

- Mathematica can be used to derive the coefficient recurrence relation by substituting some general terms of the power series into the differential equation.
- The recurrence relation connects every other coefficient.
- Therefore there are two independent solutions, one in the even powers of x and one in the odd powers.
- For the Legendre equation with integer n the coefficients of one of the series solutions will terminate.
- If n is even then the series for will terminate at the xnterm, while if n is odd then the series for will terminate at the xnterm.
- With appropriate normalisation these are the Legendre polynomials.

PH2130 Mathematical Methods 1