I'm trying to solve a simple system of differential equations.

dp = (D[#1, #2] + #2 #1) &;
dn = (D[#1, #2] - #2 #1) &;
DSolve[{dp[f1[x], x] == a f2[x], dn[f2[x], x] == b f1[x]}, {f1, f2},

using DSolve. Unfortunately, Mathematica is not able to handle this task. Is there a way to force Mathematica to print a result? Of course, it's a simple problem one could do by hand but that's not the point:-).

  • $\begingroup$ I've contacted Wolfram, the support team forwarded the issue to the developers. I'll let you know if I find anything new. $\endgroup$ Sep 17, 2013 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


you can manually simplify the system, eliminating f1..

DSolve[dp[dn[f2[x], x]/b, x] == a f2[x], f2, x] 

(*  {{f2 -> Function[{x}, 
      C[2] ParabolicCylinderD[(a b)/2, I Sqrt[2] x] + 
      C[1] ParabolicCylinderD[1/2 (-2 - a b), Sqrt[2] x]]}} *)

You get that by hand??

  • $\begingroup$ Yup:-). The result is a confluent hypergeometric function. But it'd be great if Mathematica could do it by itself:-). $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2013 at 19:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ a cheat I know but DSolve[Eliminate[Join[eqns,{D[eqns,x][[2]]}],{f1[x],f1'[x]}],f2,x] where eqns={dp[f1[x],x]==a f2[x],dn[f2[x],x]==b f1[x]}. $\endgroup$
    – chuy
    Sep 13, 2013 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ That's a very nice cheat:-). It's practically the same as the solution provided by george2079 though. $\endgroup$ Sep 14, 2013 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ @GregoryRut I think you are the first person I've met who has associated the terms "simple problem" and "confluent hypergeometric function" $\endgroup$ Sep 14, 2013 at 15:08

I'm not sure if this answers your question but a little manipulation gives the solution in terms of Hermite polynomials.

sys = {x f[x] + f'[x] == a g[x], -x g[x] + g'[x] == b f[x]};

Differentiatingthis system and eliminating first derivatives increases the order of an ODE system

sys2 = D[sys, x] /. First@Solve[sys, {f'[x], g'[x]}] // Simplify
(* => {(-1 + a b + x^2) f[x] == f''[x], (1 + a b + x^2) g[x] == g''[x]} *)

but DSolve can handle it

$$ f(x) = e^{-\frac{x^2}{2}} 2^{-\frac{a b}{4}} \left(c_1 2^{\frac{a b}{2}} H_{-\frac{a b}{2}}(x)+\sqrt{2} c_2 e^{x^2} H_{\frac{1}{2} (a b-2)}(i x)\right) $$

$$ g(x) = e^{-\frac{x^2}{2}} 2^{-\frac{a b}{4}} \left(c_3 2^{\frac{a b}{2}+\frac{1}{2}} H_{\frac{1}{2} (-a b-2)}(x)+c_4 e^{x^2} H_{\frac{a b}{2}}(i x)\right) $$

  • $\begingroup$ This is very similar to the solution provided by @chuy (of course, both are very nice but they do not answer my question). We're putting f'[x] and g'[x] by hand. It's like one's doing all the work for Mathematica:-). Perhaps I will need to restate my question. $\endgroup$ Sep 15, 2013 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but this is done by Mathematica. What do you expect than? $\endgroup$
    – mmal
    Sep 16, 2013 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ I'd expect that DSolve will be able to crack this problem by itself. A system of 2 equations is just a toy model. If you consider more equations, things will not go so smoothly anymore. Anyway, I've sent a message to Wolfram, perhaps they will be able to help us. $\endgroup$ Sep 16, 2013 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried this differentiation/substitution trick on your objective problem? $\endgroup$
    – mmal
    Sep 16, 2013 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ Yup, I stopped the evaluation after a few minutes. $\endgroup$ Sep 16, 2013 at 14:41

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