Discovering Differential Equations in Optics
Differential Equations in Optics
Mueller, Bill and Thompson, Richard
College Mathematics Journal, Vol. 28, no. 3, pp. 217-223, May 1997 A multi-part project for examining two problems in geometric optics is presented. Slope fields are approximated by gathering virtual data, and solutions to the underlying differential equation are plotted. The differential equation is derived and analytically solved. The authors state that "… the point of these investigations has little to do with optics, or even differential equations per se. The point is to have students appreciate the many approaches available to them as they struggle with a realistic problem, to see both the value and the limitations of each of these approaches, and to see the way in which the various approaches interact."