(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Wave on a string and the chain rule....Argh

So, I am working through the wave equation for a review before my friend and I go off to grad school. It has been a couple of years since we both graduated with our BS in Physics.

So, here is the question:

Suppose I want to solve the wave equation using a change of variables. Lets use [tex]\alpha = x+ct[/tex], and [tex]\beta = x-ct, and\: u = \alpha + \beta[/tex]

The wave equation is

[tex]\frac{\partial^{2} u}{\partial t^{2}}=c^{2}\frac{\partial^{2} u}{\partial x^{2}}[/tex]

Now, if we take the partial derivative of u with respect to x and applying the chain rule one gets:

[tex]\frac{\partial u}{\partial x}=\frac{\partial u}{\partial \alpha}\frac{\partial \alpha}{\partial x}+\frac{\partial u}{\partial \beta}\frac{\partial \beta}{\partial x}[/tex]

Now if we evaluate [tex]\frac{\partial \alpha}{\partial x}, and \frac{\partial \beta}{\partial x} [/tex] we get

[tex]\frac{\partial u}{\partial x} = \frac{\partial u}{\partial \alpha} + \frac {\partial u}{\partial \beta} [/tex]

So, what and how do I evaluate the second partial differential with respect to x? I get

[tex] \frac{\partial^{2}u}{\partial x^{2}} = \frac{\partial^{2}u}{\partial \alpha^{2}}\ \frac{\partial \alpha}{\partial x}+\frac{\partial^{2}u}{\partial \beta^{2}}\ \frac{\partial \beta}{\partial x} [/tex]

Now, I know this isn't quite right. I am supposed to get:

[tex] \frac{\partial^{2}u}{\partial x^{2}} = \frac{\partial^{2}u}{\partial \alpha^{2}}\ \frac{\partial \alpha}{\partial x}+ \frac{\partial^{2}u}{\partial \alpha \partial \beta}}\ \frac{\partial \beta}{\partial x} + \frac{\partial^{2}u}{\partial \beta \partial \alpha}}\ \frac{\partial \alpha}{\partial x} +\frac{\partial^{2}u}{\partial \beta^{2}}\ \frac{\partial \beta}{\partial x} [/tex]

Can anyone help me? Thanks.

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# Wave on a string and the chain rule Argh

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