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Homework Help: Fourier Series For Function Not Centred at Zero

  1. Nov 4, 2014 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    I was working on a problem where I had been given a differential equation to be solved using separation of variables. Two coordinates: a time coordinate and a single spatial coordinate (1-D problem).

    2. Relevant equations
    The domain for the spatial part was [0, L].
    Given spatial function at t=0 (boundary condition). Call it Uo(x).

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I ended up with an exponential function in the time coordinate multiplied by an expansion that looked exactly like the Fourier Series of the spatial part. So, when I put t=0, I end up with Uo(x) on the left of the equality and what should be its Fourier Series on the right.

    Under usual circumstances, I could extend the function to the domain [-L, L] by simply assigning Uo(x) (resp. its negative) to the domain [-L,0] to get an even (resp. odd) function and a cosine (resp. sine) Fourier series.

    But the problem is that the right hand side has both cos and sin terms!

    So, how do I determine the coefficients of in my solution now?

    Is there any theory that can allow me to take a function centred at a point other than zero and shift it to get a Fourier Series for it in the relevant domain? From what I've tried out, I think it can be done, but it would involve making the arguments of the sines and cosines in the series2n*pi(x-a)/L where a is the point around which my function is centred.

    Edit: The spatial boundary conditions (other than the one mentioned above, that was a boundary condition for the time coordinate) force the Fourier Series spatial solution to retain both cosine and sine terms.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2014 #2


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    It would be good if you gave us more equations and less prose so we understand better what is really going on.
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