- Open Access
Approximate analytic solution of fractional heat-like and wave-like equations with variable coefficients using the differential transforms method
© Secer; licensee Springer 2012
Received: 28 September 2012
Accepted: 2 November 2012
Published: 14 November 2012
This paper uses the differential transform method (DTM) to obtain analytical solutions of fractional heat- and wave-like equations with variable coefficients. The time fractional heat-like and wave-like equations with variable coefficients were obtained by replacing a first-order and a second-order time derivative by a fractional derivative of order . The approach mainly rests on the DTM which is one of the approximate methods. The method can easily be applied to many problems and is capable of reducing the size of computational work. Some examples are presented to show the efficiency and simplicity of the method.
Fractional order partial differential equations, as generalizations of classical integer order partial differential equations, have been used to model problems in fluid flow and other areas of application. Many phenomena in engineering physics, chemistry, and other sciences can be described very successfully by models using mathematical tools. Fractional derivatives provide an excellent instrument for the descriptive and hereditary properties of various materials and processes. In order to formulate certain electrochemical problems, half-order derivatives and integrals are more useful than the classical models . Fractional differentiation and integration operators were also used for extensions of diffusion and wave equations .
Wazwaz and Gorguis  used the Adomian decomposition method for solving heat-like and wave-like models with variable coefficients. Momani  applied the method to the time fractional heat-like and wave-like equations with variable coefficients. The main disadvantage of the Adomian method is that the solution procedure for calculation of Adomian polynomials is complex and difficult as pointed out by many researchers [5–9]. Xu and Cang  solved the fractional heat-like and wave-like equations with variable coefficients using the homotopy analysis method (HAM). In 1998, the variational iteration method (VIM) was first proposed to solve fractional differential equations with great success . Shou and He  used the VIM to solve various kinds of heat-like and wave-like equations, and it was claimed that by using the variational iteration method, demerits of complex calculation of Adomian polynomials were omitted . Recently, Molliq, Noorani, and Hashim  applied the VIM to solve various kinds of fractional heat-like and wave-like equations. The differential transform method (DTM) was first applied to engineering problems .
The DTM is a numerical method based on the Taylor series expansion which constructs an analytical solution in the form of a polynomial. The traditional high-order Taylor series method requires symbolic computation. However, the DTM obtains a polynomial series solution by means of an iterative procedure. Recently, the application of DTM is successfully extended to obtain analytical approximate solutions to ordinary differential equations of fractional order . Application of fractional calculus in physics was presented by Hilfer . A comparison between the VIM and the Adomian decomposition method for solving fractional differential equations is given by Odibat . Recently, Kurulay  demonstrated the application of DTM for solving fmKdV. In this letter, we will apply the DTM  to fractional heat-like and wave-like equations to show the simplicity and straightforwardness of the method [20, 21].
where α is a parameter describing the fractional derivative, is the rate of change of temperature at a point over time. The general response expression contains a parameter describing the order of the fractional derivative that can be varied to obtain various responses. In the case of , Eq. (1.1) reduces to the fractional heat-like equation with variable coefficients, and it does to a wave-like equation with variable coefficients for .
2 Fractional calculus
We have well-known definitions of a fractional derivative of order such as Riemann-Liouville, Grunwald-Letnikow, Caputo and generalized functions approach [1, 22]. The most commonly used definitions are the Riemann-Liouville and Caputo. We give some basic definitions and properties of the fractional calculus theory which are used throughout the paper.
Definition 2.1 A real function , is said to be in the space , if there exists a real number () such that , where , and it is said to be in the space iff , .
It has the following properties:
The Riemann-Liouville fractional derivative is mostly used by mathematicians, but this approach is not suitable for physical problems of the real world since it requires the definition of fractional order initial conditions, which have no physically meaningful explanation yet. Caputo introduced an alternative definition, which has the advantage of defining integer order initial conditions for fractional order differential equations.
for , , , .
The Caputo fractional derivative is considered here because it allows traditional initial and boundary conditions to be included in the formulation of the problem.
3 Differential transform method
The DTM is applied to the solution of electric circuit problems. The DTM is a numerical method based on the Taylor series expansion which constructs an analytical solution in the form of a polynomial. The traditional high-order Taylor series method requires symbolic computation. However, the DTM obtains a polynomial series solution by means of an iterative procedure. The method is well addressed in .
where , k-times. In the case of and , the generalized two-dimensional differential transform (3.1) reduces to the classical two-dimensional differential transform .
The operators in two-dimensional differential transformation method .
If , then .
If , , then .
If , then .
If , then .
- (e)If , then
If , , then .
If and the function , where , has the generalized Taylor series expansion , and ,
and α arbitrary or
, α arbitrary and for , where .
- (h)If , and , then
- (i)If , , then
- (j)If , then
The proofs of some properties can be found in .
We also conclude that our approximate solutions are in good agreement with the exact values. Both DTM and ADM have highly accurate solutions, but DTM has an easier way than ADM. We can solve the equation directly without calculating the Adomian polynomials.
The application of the differential transform method (DTM) has been successfully employed to obtain the approximate solution of the fractional heat-like and wave-like equations with variable coefficients. The method was used in a direct way without using linearization, perturbation or restrictive assumptions. The procedure presented to solve the fractional heat-like and wave-like equations is the same as that for standard heat-like and wave-like equations, and in special cases of and , the general solution reduces to the heat-like and wave-like solutions.
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