Cauchy operator

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of a system of ordinary differential equations

The operator , depending on two parameters and , which, given the value of any solution of the system

at the point , gives the value of that solution at the point :


is a linear system, i.e.


where is a mapping (or ), summable over every interval, then for any the Cauchy operator is a non-singular linear mapping (or ), and for any , it satisfies


and the inequality

(The equations (3) are also valid for a non-linear system

satisfying the conditions of the existence and uniqueness theorem for solutions of the Cauchy problem, with the necessary stipulations concerning the domains of definition of the operators figuring therein.) The general solution of the system

where is a mapping

summable on every interval, is described in terms of the Cauchy operator of the system (2) by the formula of variation of constants:

The Cauchy operator of the system (2) satisfies the Liouville–Ostrogradski formula:

where is the trace of the operator .

The derivative of the Cauchy operator of the system

at a point is equal to the Cauchy operator of the system of equations in variations along the solution of the system

the value of which at is (on the assumption that, for all in the interval with end points and , the graph of lies in a domain such that is a continuous mapping with continuous derivative in ; this is one formulation of a theorem asserting the differentiability of the solution with respect to the initial value).

For a linear system (2) with constant coefficients (), the Cauchy operator is defined by


(given a linear operator , is defined as ; adopting a different approach, one can define via formula (4), putting ). It is evident from (4) that the Cauchy operator depends only on the difference of the parameters:

This equation is a consequence of the autonomy of the system — a property valid for every autonomous system


Denoting the Cauchy operator of the system (5) by , one obtains the following formulas from (3):

(see also Dynamical system; Action of a group on a manifold).

For a linear system (2) with periodic coefficients, i.e.

for some and all , one has the identity

for all ; in this case the operator , where is arbitrary, is called the monodromy operator. The matrix defining the operator (or, say, ) relative to some basis is called the monodromy matrix. All monodromy operators of a fixed linear system with periodic coefficients are similar to one another:

therefore, the spectrum of the monodromy operator is independent of . The eigen values of the monodromy operator are called the multipliers of the system; one can express conditions for stability and conditional stability of the system in terms of the multipliers (see Lyapunov characteristic exponent; Lyapunov stability; Stability theory). If the system (2) has periodic complex coefficients,

for some and all , one has the theorem of Lyapunov

where , and is a non-singular linear operator for any , which is a periodic function of :

Different names are sometimes used for the Cauchy operator (e.g. "matrizantmatrizant" for a linear system, or "operator of translation along trajectoriesoperator of translation along trajectories" ).


The operator does not usually have the name Cauchy attached to it in the Western literature, and in fact is usually not given any particular name at all. In Section 2.1 of [a2], Cauchy's role in the analysis of

is sketched. The Liouville–Ostrogradski formula is better known as Liouville's formula. [a1] contains a proof of this formula.


[a1] P. Hartman, "Ordinary differential equations" , Birkhäuser (1982)
[a2] E. Hille, "Ordinary differential equations in the complex domain" , Wiley (Interscience) (1976)
[a3] M.W. Hirsch, S. Smale, "Differential equations, dynamical systems, and linear algebra" , Acad. Press (1974)
How to Cite This Entry:
Cauchy operator. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This article was adapted from an original article by V.M. Millionshchikov (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article