I'm trying to solve the following partial differential equation: $$ f(x,y) = \partial_x^2f(x,y)-\partial_y^2f(x,y) $$ for which one obvious solution would be: $$ f(x,y)=e^{2x+\sqrt{3}y} $$ An even more general solution would be: $$ f(x,y)=c_1e^{\cosh(\alpha)\,x+\sinh(\alpha)\,y}+c_2e^{-(\cosh(\alpha)\,x+\sinh(\alpha)\,y)} $$ for arbitrary $\alpha,\,c_1$ and $c_2$.

When trying to let Mathematica solve this equation via

DSolve[f[x, y] == D[f[x, y], {x, 2}] - D[f[x, y], {y, 2}], f[x, y], {x, y}]

it just returns the input. Did I set up DSolve the wrong way?

  • $\begingroup$ Every soft has its limitations. BTW, where is the PDE under consideration used? $\endgroup$
    – user64494
    Oct 21, 2020 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, DSolve is unable to solve many simple PDEs. Here, it is successful only with substantial human assistance. Assume f[x, y] -> fx[x] fy[y]. Then,

sx = DSolveValue[1 == fx''[x]/fx[x] - fy''[y]/fy[y], fx[x], x] /. {C[1] -> c1x, C[2] -> c2x}
(* c1x E^(-((x Sqrt[fy[y] + (fy''[y]])/Sqrt[fy[y]])) + 
   c2x E^((x Sqrt[fy[y] + (fy''[y]])/Sqrt[fy[y]]) *)

The quantity

sx[[2, 2, 2]]/x
(* Sqrt[fy[y] + (fy''[y]]/Sqrt[fy[y]] *)

must be a constant, so

sy = DSolveValue[%^2 == c^2, fy[y], y] /. {C[1] -> c1y, C[2] -> c2y}
(* c2y E^(-Sqrt[-1 + c^2] y) + c1y E^(Sqrt[-1 + c^2] y) *)

The solution of the PDE then is

sxy = sx sy /. sx[[2, 2, 2]] -> c x
(* (c1x E^(-c x) + c2x E^(c x)) (c2y E^(-Sqrt[-1 + c^2] y) + c1y E^(Sqrt[-1 + c^2] y)) *)

where the five constants may be complex numbers. The two solutions given in the question are special cases. The accuracy of this result can be verified by

Simplify[f[x, y] == D[f[x, y], {x, 2}] - D[f[x, y], {y, 2}] /. 
    f -> Function[{x, y}, Evaluate[sxy]]]
(* True *)

Probably, this simple PDE could be solved by hand more rapidly than with Mathematica.


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