Differential Equations: 2×2 Systems (edX)

In order to understand most phenomena in the world, we need to understand not just single equations, but systems of differential equations. In this course, we start with 2×2 systems.



Differential equations are the language of the models we use to describe the world around us. Most phenomena require not a single differential equation, but a system of coupled differential equations. In this course, we will develop the mathematical toolset needed to understand 2×2 systems of first-order linear and nonlinear differential equations. We will use 2×2 systems and matrices to model:

  • predator-prey populations in an ecosystem,
  • competition for tourism between two states,
  • the temperature profile of a soft boiling egg,
  • automobile suspensions for a smooth ride,
  • pendulums, and
  • RLC circuits that tune to specific frequencies.

The five modules in this series are being offered as an XSeries on edX. Please visit the Differential EquationsXSeries Program Page to learn more and to enroll in the modules.

  • Wolf photo by Arne von Brill on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
  • Rabbit photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

What you’ll learn

  • How to model real-world problems by 2×2 systems of differential equations
  • How to use matrix methods to solve homogeneous systems of 2 first-order linear differential equations
  • How to use graphical methods to understand the qualitative behavior of linear and nonlinear systems, and how to apply linear approximation to nonlinear (autonomous) 2×2 systems.

Syllabus – Differential Equations: 2×2 Systems edX Course

Unit 1: Linear 2×2 systems

  1. Introduction to systems of differential equations
  2. Solving 2×2 homogeneous linear systems of differential equations
  3. Complex eigenvalues, phase portraits, and energy
  4. The trace-determinant plane and stability

Unit 2: Nonlinear 2×2 systems

  1. Linear approximation of autonomous systems
  2. Stability of autonomous systems
  3. Nonlinear pendulum


  • David Jerison
  • Jennifer French
  • Duncan Levear

Additional information




There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “Differential Equations: 2×2 Systems (edX)”

Differential Equations: 2x2 Systems edX course
Differential Equations: 2×2 Systems (edX)