edX: Differential Equations: 2x2 Systems

 with  David Jerison

Differential equations are the language of the models we use to describe the world around us. Most phenomena require not a single differential equation, but a system of coupled differential equations. In this course, we will develop the mathematical toolset needed to understand 2x2 systems of first order linear and nonlinear differential equations. We will use 2x2 systems and matrices to model:

  • predator-prey populations in an ecosystem,
  • competition for tourism between two states,
  • the temperature profile of a soft boiling egg,
  • automobile suspensions for a smooth ride,
  • pendulums, and
  • RLC circuits that tune to specific frequencies.

* Wolf photo by Arne von Brill on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
* Rabbit photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Unit 1: Linear 2x2 systems
    1. Introduction to systems of differential equations
    2. Solving 2x2 homogeneous linear systems of differential equations
    3. Complex eigenvalues, phase portraits, and energy
    4. The trace-determinant plane and stability

Unit 2: Nonlinear 2x2 systems
   5. Linear approximation of autonomous systems
   6. Stability of autonomous systems
   7. Nonlinear pendulum
0 Student
Cost Free Online Course
Pace Upcoming
Subject Mathematics
Provider edX
Language English
Certificates $49 Certificate Available
Hours 2-5 hours a week
Calendar 9 weeks long
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