The basic idea is to write a solution as where is some function of . What equation must satisfy?

To find out, we plug in to the left side of the differential
equation.

We will still have a second order linear differential equation for , but since this only depends on and we can think of it as a first-order linear differential equation for . We know how to solve first-order linear differential equations (assuming we can do the required integrations), so we will be able to find . Then we integrate to get , and we have our solution .

**Example: ** *Solve the non-homogeneous equation
*

Taking
, we have

Thus the equation for is

The integrating factor is

so the general solution is

Integrating, we get

Note that we get the general solution: the second fundamental solution of the homogeneous equation comes from the constant in the integration that gives us . The constant in the last integration leads to the first fundamental solution (which we already knew).

Here's an example with a constant-coefficient equation. The idea is the same, but the Exponential Shift technique makes it easier. Of course, there is still no guarantee that we will be able to find the integrals in closed form.

**Example: ** *Find a solution of the differential equation*

The roots of the characteristic polynomial are . So let's look for a particular solution of the form . Exponential Shift gives us

Writing , we have . The integrating factor is . The solution to this first-order linear equation is

We just need a particular solution, so take . Integrating (it's not an easy integral):

Again, we can ignore the constant , and our particular solution is

2002-03-09