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2017-08-22: A rebuttal on the beauty in applying math

2016-11-02: In search of Theodore von Karman

2016-09-25: Amath Timeline

2016-02-24: Math errors and risk reporting

2016-02-20: Apple VS FBI

2016-02-19: More Zika may be better than less

2016-01-14: Life at the multifurcation

2015-09-28: AI ain't that smart

2015-06-24: MathEpi citation tree

2015-03-31: Too much STEM is bad

2015-03-24: Dawn of the CRISPR age

2015-02-08: Risks and values of microparasite research

2014-11-10: Vaccine mandates and bioethics

2014-10-18: Ebola, travel, president

2014-10-12: Ebola numbers

2014-09-23: More stochastic than?

2014-08-17: Feynman's missing method for third-orders?

2014-07-31: CIA spies even on congress

2014-07-16: Rehm on vaccines

2014-06-20: Random dispersal speeds invasions

2014-04-14: More on fairer markets

2014-02-17: Is life a simulation or a dream?

2014-01-30: PSU should be infosocialist

2014-01-12: The dark house of math

2013-12-24: Cuvier and the birth of extinction

2013-12-17: Risk Resonance

2013-12-15: The cult of the Levy flight

2013-12-09: 2013 Flu Shots at PSU

2013-12-02: Amazon sucker-punches 60 minutes

2013-11-26: Zombies are REAL, Dr. Tyson!

2013-11-22: Crying wolf over synthetic biology?

2013-11-21: Tilting Drake's Equation

2013-11-18: Why $1^\infty != 1$

2013-11-14: 60 Minutes misreport on Benghazi

2013-11-09: Using infinitessimals in vector calculus

2013-11-08: Functional Calculus

Kurtosis, 4th order diffusion, and wave speed

Here's a very simple problem students can do on their own to investigate how higher-order effects in linear parabolic equations can alter the wave-speed properties.

Consider a linear partial differential equation exhibiting non-zero 4th derivative. This is applicable to local expansion of kernels in integral-differential equations. Murray talks about this some.

$\frac{\partial N}{\partial t} = RN + D\frac{\partial^{2}N}{\partial x^{2}} + K \frac{\partial^{4}N}{\partial x^{4}}.$ $\dot{u} = u + u'' + K u''''.$

This is important in the limiting expansion of integro-differential equations. One can look for exponential traveling wave with intensity $\theta$ so that $u = \bar{C} e^{\theta(x-ct)},$ and this gives $0 = \bar{C} e^{\theta(x-ct)} \left( K \theta^{4} + \theta^{2} + c\theta + 1 \right).$ Applying elimination theory with criticality condition $\partial c / \partial \theta = 0$, $4K\theta^{3}+2\theta+c_{min}=0$, so the minimum wave speed $c_{min}$ must satisfy $(9Kc_{min}^{2}-8K+2)\theta +c_{min}(1+12K)=0.$ This leads to nasty 8th degree polynomial in $c_{min}$ and $K.$ However, using groebner basis theory, one finds a rotated hyperbola and an ellipse/hyperbola govern the solution: \begin{eqnarray} 2 \theta^{2} + 3 \theta c_{min} + 4 &=& 0 \label{eq:1}\\ 9 c_{min}^{2} - 4(12K+1) \theta^{2} &=& 32 \label{eq:2} \end{eqnarray} These allow the problem to be reduced to simple 1-d root-finding.

The question is whether there exists a minimum speed for these waves. Well, for given $c$, it is straight forward to show when $K>0$ there exist $0$ or $2$ invasion speeds for given wave intensities $\theta$ by inspecting $$K \theta^{4} + \theta^{2} + 1 = - c \theta.$$ When $K<0$ there are will be $2$ or $4$ solutions for $\theta$, but inspecting $c = - \frac{ K \theta^{4} + \theta^{2} + 1 }{ \theta },$ we see that for every possible $c$, there exists at least one $\theta > 0$ -- there is no band-gap in allowed speeds. Thus, we can not define any wave speeds for $K < 0$ without changing model fundamentals.

In this case ($K\geq 0$), $\frac{\partial c_{min}}{\partial K}>0$, such that $c_{min}$ grows without bound. For $K>0, c_{min}>2$ there is the very nice asymptotic approximation that $$K \sim \frac{27}{256}c_{min}^{4} - \frac{9}{16}c_{min}^{2} + \frac{1}{2}$$ which isn't too bad even when $K\sim 0$. For small $K$, $c_{min} = 2 + K + O(K^2)$, which recovers the standard diffusion behavior.