# Why does Solve silently give no solutions while Reduce gives some?

I was trying to solve this system of equations:

totalParts=4;
Solve[
Join[
{n == 0, n[totalParts - 1] == 1},
Table[2 n[i]^2 == n[i + 1]^2 - n[i - 1]^2, {i, 1, totalParts - 2}]
],
Table[n[i], {i, 1, totalParts - 2}]]


Solve gave me {} as answer. I started to wonder where I've made a mistake, but guessed that Reduce may give an answer. Interestingly, the mere replacement of Solve with Reduce in the above code gives me

n == 1 &&
n == 0 && (n == -(1/Sqrt) ||
n == 1/Sqrt) && (n == -Sqrt[(2/5)] || n == Sqrt[2/5])


I.e. the system does have a solution, and I've checked by substitution that the solution is right.

Why didn't Solve give it or at least complained that it can't be solved with methods available to Solve as it sometimes does? I'd expect something like

{{n->-(1/Sqrt),n->-Sqrt[(2/5)]},
{n->-(1/Sqrt),n->Sqrt[(2/5)]},
{n->(1/Sqrt),n->-Sqrt[(2/5)]},
{n->(1/Sqrt),n->Sqrt[(2/5)]}}

• In Solve you have less variables than equations. Go with {i, 0, totalParts - 1} to obtain the solutions. – corey979 Sep 24 '16 at 8:40
• Or use MaxExtraConditions -> Automatic to allow conditions on the other parameters – Simon Woods Sep 24 '16 at 8:41
• @corey979, @ SimonWoods these hints could go into answers. – Ruslan Sep 24 '16 at 8:43

Solve wants the same number of equations and variables, so

totalParts = 4;
Solve[Join[{n == 0, n[totalParts - 1] == 1},
Table[2 n[i]^2 == n[i + 1]^2 - n[i - 1]^2, {i, 1, totalParts - 2}]],
Table[n[i], {i, 0, totalParts - 1}]] But it's a wasted effort to solve an equation of the type n == 0 and n == 1, so

{n = 0, n[totalParts - 1] = 1};
Solve[Table[
2 n[i]^2 == n[i + 1]^2 - n[i - 1]^2, {i, 1, totalParts - 2}],
Table[n[i], {i, 1, totalParts - 2}]] Let me also incorporate and elaborate on the comment of Simon Woods about MaxExtraConditions.

sol = Solve[
Join[{n == 0, n[totalParts - 1] == 1},
Table[2 n[i]^2 == n[i + 1]^2 - n[i - 1]^2, {i, 1,
totalParts - 2}]], Table[n[i], {i, 1, totalParts - 2}],
MaxExtraConditions -> Automatic]


returns a conditional expression which isn't very transparent, but one can display the solution with the assumption that the conditions are met with

Normal @ sol 