If I have some long expressions in terms of an arbitrary functions, and their derivatives, say, is it possible to ask Mathematica to simplify that expression utilizing known relations between the functions?

For example, suppose I have a function $f[x,y]\in \mathbb{R^3}$ and I define some quantity $$G[x,y]=\frac{1}{|\partial f / \partial y|^3}\frac{\partial^5 f}{\partial x^4 \partial y} -(|\frac{\partial f}{\partial x}|^2 + f\cdot \frac{ \partial f}{\partial x}) f$$ (or whatever). Suppose I know moreover that $f$ satisfies the relations $$(1) \hskip5pt \frac{\partial ^2 f}{\partial x^2}+\frac{\partial ^2 f}{\partial y^2}=0$$ $$(2) \hskip5pt \frac{\partial f}{\partial x} \cdot \frac{\partial f}{\partial y}=0 $$

Then is there a way to ask Mathematica to simplify long expressions such as $\frac{\partial^2 G}{\partial x^2}+\frac{\partial^2 G}{\partial y^2}$ making use of the relations (1) and (2)?

Even more adventurously, would it be possible to ask Mathematica to look for relations (i.e. a differential equation) satisfied by $G$, given the relations (1) and (2)?

Update: I tried doing this using FullSimplify with an Assumption, but this appears to be really lousy, as a toy example I looked at the expression $g=\xi_x -(\xi_{xx}-\xi_{yy})^2$ where $\xi$ solves the wave equation $\xi_{xx}-\xi_{yy}=0$. Mathematica could then simplify the first derivatives of $g$, but couldn't manage even its second derivatives, let alone more complicated stuff! enter image description here

Does anyone know any better methods?

  • $\begingroup$ Please provide copy/pasteable Mathematica code! $\endgroup$
    – Carl Woll
    Dec 12, 2017 at 2:55

1 Answer 1


You can differentiate your constraints to generate additional constraints in order to canonicalize your expression. Here is one attempt:

order[expr_] := Max @ Cases[
    Derivative[a__][_][__] :> Total[{a}],
    {0, Infinity}

canon[expr_, {eqns__Equal}, v_] := Module[
    exprOrder = order[expr],
    eqnOrders = order /@ {eqns},
    assumptions = Flatten @ MapThread[
        NestList[D[#, {v}]&, #1, Max[exprOrder - #2, 0]]&,
        {{eqns}, eqnOrders}
    Simplify[expr, assumptions]
canon[expr_, eqn_Equal, v_] := canon[expr, {eqn}, v]

On your initial example, this is what I get:

    1/D[f[x,y], y]^3 D[f[x,y], {x, 4}, y] - (D[f[x,y],x]^2 + f[x,y] D[f[x, y], x])f[x,y],
    D[f[x,y], x, x] + D[f[x,y], y, y] == 0,
    D[f[x,y], x] D[f[x,y], y] == 0
] //TeXForm


It seems that Simplify must be using Together, causing the latter term to become zero.

For your first update example:

g[x_, y_] := D[ξ[x, y], x] - (D[ξ[x,y], x, x] - D[ξ[x, y], y, y])^2

eqn = D[ξ[x, y], x, x] - D[ξ[x, y], y, y] == 0;

expr = D[g[x, y], x];
expr //TeXForm

$\xi ^{(2,0)}(x,y)-2 \left(\xi ^{(2,0)}(x,y)-\xi ^{(0,2)}(x,y)\right) \left(\xi ^{(3,0)}(x,y)-\xi ^{(1,2)}(x,y)\right)$

After canonicalization we get:

canon[expr, eqn, {x, y}] //TeXForm

$\xi ^{(2,0)}(x,y)$

For the second update example:

expr = D[g[x, y], x, x, x, x, x, x, x, x];
expr //TeXForm

$-70 \left(\xi ^{(6,0)}(x,y)-\xi ^{(4,2)}(x,y)\right)^2-112 \left(\xi ^{(5,0)}(x,y)-\xi ^{(3,2)}(x,y)\right) \left(\xi ^{(7,0)}(x,y)-\xi ^{(5,2)}(x,y)\right)-56 \left(\xi ^{(4,0)}(x,y)-\xi ^{(2,2)}(x,y)\right) \left(\xi ^{(8,0)}(x,y)-\xi ^{(6,2)}(x,y)\right)+\xi ^{(9,0)}(x,y)-16 \left(\xi ^{(3,0)}(x,y)-\xi ^{(1,2)}(x,y)\right) \left(\xi ^{(9,0)}(x,y)-\xi ^{(7,2)}(x,y)\right)-2 \left(\xi ^{(2,0)}(x,y)-\xi ^{(0,2)}(x,y)\right) \left(\xi ^{(10,0)}(x,y)-\xi ^{(8,2)}(x,y)\right)$

And after canonicalization:

canon[expr, eqn, {x, y}] //TeXForm

$\xi ^{(9,0)}(x,y)$

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks that code seems to work a bit of magic :) (still not actually managed to pull out any nice identities for my specific problem, but that was always a long shot and it simplified the equations by a bit anyway!) $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2017 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ have you got any ideas for the more ambitious problem, where one might write a program to 'look for simplified expressions'. I.e, it might try to look for a differential equation satisfied by $G$? $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2017 at 15:11

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