MAGIC058: Theory of Partial Differential Equations

Course details

A core MAGIC course


Spring 2023
Monday, January 23rd to Friday, March 31st


Live lecture hours
Recorded lecture hours
Total advised study hours


15:05 - 15:55 (UK)


This course unit surveys analytical methods for linear and nonlinear first and second order PDEs.

We will discuss exact solutions, series solutions, Fourier transforms and nonlinear transforms, with a view to developing, applying and analysing a broad toolbox of methods to solve problems in applied mathematics. 


No prior knowledge of PDEs is required, but experience with vector calculus and general undergraduate methods courses would be very helpful.


1. Introduction 
Basic notation. Classification of PDEs, examples of common PDEs. 

2. First order PDEs 
Construction of solutions to linear and nonlinear first order PDEs via method of characteristics. Application of Cauchy data. Examples of shock formation. 

3. Linear second order PDEs 
Characteristics of second order PDEs, classification, reduction to normal form. Well-posedness of boundary conditions. 

4. Fourier series 
Properties of full and half range Fourier series, and discussion of orthogonality. Use of separable solutions in constructing series solutions for appropriate BVPs and IVPs. 

5. Sturm-Liouville systems 
Definition of Sturm-Liouville systems, and proofs of main properties for regular S-L systems. Further discussion of applicability of series solutions. 

6. Fourier transforms 
Connection to Fourier series. Summary of main properties of Fourier transforms, and examples of calculation. Inversion via contour integration, and relation to convolution properties. Examples of solution of linear PDEs in infinite domains, and use of sine and cosine transforms in semi-infinite domains. 

7. Nonlinear PDEs 
Failure of superposition principle. Cole-Hopf transform for Burgers' equation. Examples of Backlund transforms. Inverse scattering methods for the KdV equation. 


  • JR

    Dr Jonathan Rawlinson

    University of Manchester


Follow the link for a book to take you to the relevant Google Book Search page

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  • An Introduction to Partial Differential Equations, 2nd. edition (M. Renardy and R.C. Rogers, book)


The assessment for this course will be released on Monday 1st May 2023 at 00:00 and is due in before Monday 15th May 2023 at 11:00.

Assessment for all MAGIC courses is via take-home exam which will be made available at the release date (the start of the exam period).

You will need to upload a PDF file with your own attempted solutions by the due date (the end of the exam period).

If you have kept up-to-date with the course, the expectation is it should take at most 3 hours’ work to attain the pass mark, which is 50%.

Please note that you are not registered for assessment on this course.


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