Phase space method

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In applied mathematics, the phase space method is a technique for constructing and analyzing solutions of dynamical systems, that is, solving time-dependent differential equations.

The method consists of first rewriting the equations as a system of differential equations that are first-order in time, by introducing additional variables. The original and the new variables form a vector in the phase space. The solution then becomes a curve in the phase space, parametrized by time. The curve is usually called a trajectory or an orbit. The differential equation is reformulated as a geometrical description of the curve, that is, as a differential equation in terms of the phase space variables only, without the original time parametrization. Finally, a solution in the phase space is transformed back into the original setting.

The phase space method is used widely in physics. It can be applied, for example, to find traveling wave solutions of reaction-diffusion systems.[1][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A. Kolmogorov, I. Petrovskii, and N. Piscounov. A study of the diffusion equation with increase in the amount of substance, and its application to a biological problem. In V. M. Tikhomirov, editor, Selected Works of A. N. Kolmogorov I, pages 248--270. Kluwer 1991. Translated by V. M. Volosov from Bull. Moscow Univ., Math. Mech. 1, 1--25, 1937
  2. ^ Peter Grindrod. The theory and applications of reaction-diffusion equations: Patterns and waves. Oxford Applied Mathematics and Computing Science Series. The Clarendon Press Oxford University Press, New York, second edition, 1996.