The Journal of the Australian Mathematical Society. Series B. Applied Mathematics

Research Article

Boundary conditions for approximate differential equations

A. J. Robertsa1

a1 Department of Applied Mathematics, The University of Adelaide, GPO Box 498, Adelaide 5001, South, Australia.


A large number of mathematical models are expressed as differential equations. Such models are often derived through a slowly-varying approximation under the assumption that the domain of interest is arbitrarily large; however, typical solutions and the physical problem of interest possess finite domains. The issue is: what are the correct boundary conditions to be used at the edge of the domain for such model equations? Centre manifold theory [24] and its generalisations may be used to derive these sorts of approximations, and higher-order refinements, in an appealing and systematic fashion. Furthermore, the centre manifold approach permits the derivation of appropriate initial conditions and forcing for the models [25, 7]. Here I show how to derive asymptotically-correct boundary conditions for models which are based on the slowly-varying approximation. The dominant terms in the boundary conditions typically agree with those obtained through physical arguments. However, refined models of higher order require subtle corrections to the previously-deduced boundary conditions, and also require the provision of additional boundary conditions to form a complete model.

(Received February 14 1991)

(Revised August 09 1991)