Automatic Qualitative Analysis of Ordinary Differential Equations Using Piecewise Linear Approximations
This paper explores automating the qualitative analysis of physical systems. It describes a program, called PLR, that takes parameterized ordinary differential equations as input and produces a qualitative description of the solutions for all initial values. PLR approximates intractable nonlinear systems with piecewise linear ones, analyzes the approximations, and draws conclusions about the original systems. It chooses approximations that are accurate enough to reproduce the essential properties of their nonlinear prototypes, yet simple enough to be analyzed completely and efficiently. It derives additional properties, such as boundedness or periodicity, by theoretical methods. I demonstrate PLR on several common nonlinear systems and on published examples from mechanical engineering.