First Integral

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

First Integral


The first integral of a system of ordinary differential equations

is a relation of the form

ϕ (x, y1, …, yn) = C

where C is an arbitrary constant. The left side of the relation remains constant when any solution y1 = y1(x), …, yn = yn(x) of the system is substituted but is not a fixed constant. Geometrically, the first integral is a family of hypersurfaces in the (n + 1)-dimensional space Oxy1yn, in each of which there exists a subfamily of the integral curves of the system. For example, y2 + z2 = C2 (circular cylinder) is a first integral of the system dy/dx = z, dz/dx = – y; the integral curves y = C sin (xx0) and z = C cos (xx0) are helices on the cylinders (see Figure 1). If k independent first integrals ϕi (x, y1 …, yn) = Ci (i = 1, …, k; k < n) of a system are

Figure 1

known, the system’s order can in general be decreased by k units. If k = n, the general integral of the system is obtained without integration.


Stepanov, V. V. Kurs differentsial’nykh uravnenii, 8th ed. Moscow, 1959.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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