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Concept# Stiff equation

Summary

In mathematics, a stiff equation is a differential equation for which certain numerical methods for solving the equation are numerically unstable, unless the step size is taken to be extremely small. It has proven difficult to formulate a precise definition of stiffness, but the main idea is that the equation includes some terms that can lead to rapid variation in the solution.
When integrating a differential equation numerically, one would expect the requisite step size to be relatively small in a region where the solution curve displays much variation and to be relatively large where the solution curve straightens out to approach a line with slope nearly zero. For some problems this is not the case. In order for a numerical method to give a reliable solution to the differential system sometimes the step size is required to be at an unacceptably small level in a region where the solution curve is very smooth. The phenomenon is known as stiffness. In some cases there may be two different problems with the same solution, yet one is not stiff and the other is. The phenomenon cannot therefore be a property of the exact solution, since this is the same for both problems, and must be a property of the differential system itself. Such systems are thus known as stiff systems.
Consider the initial value problem
The exact solution (shown in cyan) is
We seek a numerical solution that exhibits the same behavior.
The figure (right) illustrates the numerical issues for various numerical integrators applied on the equation.
One of the most prominent examples of the stiff ordinary differential equations (ODEs) is a system that describes the chemical reaction of Robertson:
If one treats this system on a short interval, for example, there is no problem in numerical integration. However, if the interval is very large (1011 say), then many standard codes fail to integrate it correctly.
Additional examples are the sets of ODEs resulting from the temporal integration of large chemical reaction mechanisms.

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Stiff equation

In mathematics, a stiff equation is a differential equation for which certain numerical methods for solving the equation are numerically unstable, unless the step size is taken to be extremely small. It has proven difficult to formulate a precise definition of stiffness, but the main idea is that the equation includes some terms that can lead to rapid variation in the solution.

Euler method

In mathematics and computational science, the Euler method (also called the forward Euler method) is a first-order numerical procedure for solving ordinary differential equations (ODEs) with a given initial value. It is the most basic explicit method for numerical integration of ordinary differential equations and is the simplest Runge–Kutta method. The Euler method is named after Leonhard Euler, who first proposed it in his book Institutionum calculi integralis (published 1768–1870).

Numerical methods for ordinary differential equations

Numerical methods for ordinary differential equations are methods used to find numerical approximations to the solutions of ordinary differential equations (ODEs). Their use is also known as "numerical integration", although this term can also refer to the computation of integrals. Many differential equations cannot be solved exactly. For practical purposes, however – such as in engineering – a numeric approximation to the solution is often sufficient. The algorithms studied here can be used to compute such an approximation.

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