Numerical Solutions of Differential Equations

  • Richard A. Holmgren
Part of the Universitext book series (UTX)


The reader is probably familiar with the differential equation y′ = ky from calculus. Often it is introduced as a simple model for population growth or accumulating interest. For example, if p(x) represents the population of bacteria in a laboratory sample at time x and the population increases by fixed percentage during each time interval, then it is reasonable to assume that there is k > 0 such that p′ = kp; that is, the rate of change of the size of the population, as reflected by the derivative, is proportional to the population. The larger the population, the more individuals that are added to it during each time interval. If we wish a more sophisticated model that takes into account the fact that the crowding of a large population may affect growth negatively, then we might reflect this by adding a quadratic term to get w′ = kwaw2, where both k and a are positive. When the population is small, kw is greater than aw2, the derivative is positive, and the population is growing. As w increases, the difference between kw and aw2 decreases until we reach a point where aw2 is larger than kw, the derivative is negative, and the population is shrinking.


Periodic Point Tangent Line Qualitative Behavior Actual Solution Small Step Size 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard A. Holmgren
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MathematicsAllegheny CollegeMeadvilleUSA

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