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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 6 Harmonic Functions
The shortest route between two truths in the real domain passes through the complex domain. J. Hadamard 6.1 Definition and Basic Properties We will now spend a chapter on certain functions defined on subsets of the complex plane which are real valued. The main motivation for studying them is that the partial differential equation they satisfy is very common in the physical sciences. Recall from Section ?? the definition of a harmonic function: Definition 6.1. Let G C be a region. A function u : G R is harmonic in G if it has continuous second partials in G and satisfies the Laplace1 equation uxx + uyy = 0 in G. There are (at least) two reasons why harmonic functions are part of the study of complex analysis, and they can be found in the next two theorems. Proposition 6.2. Suppose f = u + iv is holomorphic in the region G. Then u and v are harmonic in G. Proof. First, by Corollary 5.2, f is infinitely differentiable, and hence so are u and v. In particular, u and v have continuous second partials. By Theorem 2.13, u and v satisfy the CauchyRiemann equations ux = vy and uy = vx in G. Hence uxx + uyy = (ux )x + (uy )y = (vy )x + (vx )y = vyx  vxy = 0 in G. Note that in the last step we used the fact that v has continuous second partials. The proof that v satisfies the Laplace equation is completely analogous.
1 For more information about PierreSimon Laplace (17491827), see http://wwwgroups.dcs.stand.ac.uk/history/Biographies/Laplace.html. 63 CHAPTER 6. HARMONIC FUNCTIONS 64 Proposition 6.2 shouts for a converse theorem. There are, however, functions which are harmonic in a region G but not the real part (say) of an holomorphic function in G (Exercise 3). We do obtain a converse of Proposition 6.2 if we restrict ourselves to simply connected regions. Theorem 6.3. Suppose u is harmonic on the simply connected region G. Then there exists a harmonic function v such that f = u + iv is holomorphic in G. Remark. The function v is called a harmonic conjugate of u. Proof. We will explicitly construct the holomorphic function f (and thus v = Im f ). First, let g = ux  iuy . The plan is to prove that g is holomorphic, and then to construct an antiderivative of g, which will be almost the function f that we're after. To prove that g is holomorphic, we use Theorem 2.13: first because u is harmonic, Re g = ux and Im g = uy have continuous partials. Moreover, again because u is harmonic, they satisfy the CauchyRiemann equations: (Re g)x = uxx = uyy = (Im g)y and Now that we know that g is holomorphic in G, we can use Theorem 5.14 to obtain a primitive h of g on G. (Note that for the application of this theorem we need the fact that G is simply connected.) Suppose we decompose h into its real and imaginary parts as h = a + ib. Then, again using Theorem 2.13, g = h = ax + ibx = ax  iay . (The second equation follows with the CauchyRiemann equations.) But the real part of g is ux , so that we obtain ux = ax or u(x, y) = a(x, y) + c(y) for some function c which only depends on y. On the other hand, comparing the imaginary parts of g and h yields uy = ay or u(x, y) = a(x, y) + c(x), and c depends only on x. Hence c has to be constant, and u = a + c. But then f =hc is a function holomorphic in G whose real part is u, as promised. Remark. In hindsight, it should not be surprising that the function g which we first constructed is the derivative of the soughtafter function f . Namely, by Theorem 2.13 such a function f = u + iv must satisfy f = ux + ivx = ux  iuy . (Re g)y = uxy = uyx =  (Im g)x . (The second equation follows with the CauchyRiemann equations.) It is also worth mentioning that the proof shows that if u is harmonic in G then ux is the real part of a function holomorphic in G regardless whether G is simply connected or not. As one might imagine, the two theorems we've just proved allow for a powerful interplay between harmonic and holomorphic functions. In that spirit, the following theorem might appear not too surprising. It is, however, a very strong result, which one might appreciate better when looking back at the simple definition of harmonic functions. CHAPTER 6. HARMONIC FUNCTIONS Corollary 6.4. A harmonic function is infinitely differentiable. Proof. Suppose u is harmonic in G. Fix z0 G and r > 0 such that the disk D = {z C : z  z0  < r} 65 is contained in G. D is simply connected, so by the last theorem, there exists a function f holomorphic in D such that u = Re f on D. By Corollary 5.2, f is infinitely differentiable on D, and hence so is its real part u. Because z0 D, we showed that u is infinitely differentiable at z0 , and because z0 was chosen arbitrarily, we proved the statement. Remark. This is the first in a series of proofs which uses the fact that the property of being harmonic is a local propertyit is a property at each point of a certain region. Note that we did not construct a function f which is holomorphic in G but we only constructed such a function on the disk D. This f might very well differ from one disk to the next. 6.2 MeanValue and Maximum/Minimum Principle The following identity is the harmonic analog of Cauchy's integral formula, Theorem 4.10. Theorem 6.5. Suppose u is harmonic in the region G, and {z C : z  w r} G. Then 1 u(w) = 2 2 0 Proof. The disk D = {z C : z  w r} is simply connected, so by Theorem 6.3 there is a function f holomorphic on D such that u = Re f on D. Now we apply Corollary 4.12 to f : 2 1 f (w) = f w + reit dt . 2 0 The statement follows by taking the real part on both sides. Theorem 6.5 states that harmonic functions have the meanvalue property. The following result is a fairly straightforward consequence of this property. The function u : G C R has a strong relative maximum at w if there exists a disk D = {z C : z  w < R} G such that u(z) u(w) for all z D and u(z0 ) < u(w) for some z0 D. The definition of a strong relative minimum is completely analogous. Theorem 6.6. If u is harmonic in the region G, then it does not have a strong relative maximum or minimum in G. Proof. Assume (by way of contradiction) that w is a strong local maximum of u in G. Then there is a disk in G centered at w containing a point z0 with u(z0 ) < u(w). Suppose z0  w = r; we apply Theorem 6.5 with this r: 2 1 u(w) = u w + reit dt . 2 0 u w + reit dt . CHAPTER 6. HARMONIC FUNCTIONS 66 Figure 6.1: Proof of Theorem 6.6. Intuitively, this cannot hold, because some of the function values we're integrating are smaller than u(w), contradicting the meanvalue property. To make this into a thorough argument, suppose that z0 = w + reit0 for 0 t0 < 2. Because u(z0 ) < u(w) and u is continuous, there is a whole interval of parameters, say t0 t < t1 , such that u w + reit < u(w). Now we split up the meanvalue integral: 2 1 u(w) = u w + reit dt 2 0 t0 t1 2 1 it it it = u w + re dt + u w + re dt + u w + re dt 2 0 t0 t1 All the integrands can be bounded by u(w), for the middle integral we get a strict inequality. Hence t0 t1 2 1 u(w) < u(w) dt + u(w) dt + u(w) dt = u(w) , 2 0 t0 t1 a contradiction. The same argument works if we assume that u has a relative minimum. But in this case there's actually a short cut: if u has a strong relative minimum then the harmonic function u has a strong relative maximum, which we just showed cannot exist. A look into the (not so distant) future. We will see in Corollary 8.11 a variation of this theorem for a weak relative maximum w, in the sense that there exists a disk D = {z C : z  w < R} G such that all z D satisfy u(z) u(w). Corollary 8.11 says that if u is harmonic in the region G, then it does not have a weak relative maximum or minimum in G. A special yet important case of the above maximum/minimum principle is obtained when considering bounded regions. Corollary 8.11 implies that if u is harmonic in the closure of the bounded region G then max u(z) = max u(z)
zG zG and min u(z) = min u(z) .
zG zG (Here G denotes the boundary of G.) We'll exploit this fact in the next two corollaries. Corollary 6.7. Suppose u is harmonic in the closure of the bounded region G. If u is zero on G then u is zero in G. CHAPTER 6. HARMONIC FUNCTIONS Proof. By the remark we just made u(z) max u(z) = max u(z) = max 0 = 0
zG zG zG 67 and u(z) min u(z) = min u(z) = min 0 = 0 ,
zG zG zG so u has to be zero in G. Corollary 6.8. If two harmonic functions agree on the boundary of a bounded region then they agree in the region. Proof. Suppose u and v are harmonic in G G and they agree on G. Then u  v is also harmonic in G G (Exercise 2) and u  v is zero on G. Now apply the previous corollary. The last corollary states that if we know a harmonic function on the boundary of some region then we know it inside the region. One should remark, however, that this result is of a completely theoretical nature: it says nothing about how to extend a function given on the boundary of a region to the full region. This problem is called the Dirichlet2 problem and has a solution for all simplyconnected regions. There is a fairly simple formula (involving the socalled Poisson3 kernel ) if the region in question is a disk; for other regions one needs to find a conformal map to the unit disk. All of this is beyond the scope of these notes, we just remark that Corollary 6.8 says that the solution to the Dirichlet problem is unique. Exercises
1. Show that all partial derivatives of a harmonic function are harmonic. 2. Suppose u and v are harmonic, and c R. Prove that u + cv is also harmonic. 3. Consider u(z) = u(x, y) = ln x2 + y 2 . (b) Prove that u is not the real part of a function which is holomorphic in C \ {0}. 4. Let u(x, y) = ex sin y. (a) Show that u is harmonic on C. (b) Find an entire function f such that Re(f ) = u. 5. Is it possible to find a real function v so that x3 + y 3 + iv is holomorphic? (a) Show that u is harmonic in C \ {0}. For more information about Johann Peter Gustav Dirichlet (18051859), see http://wwwgroups.dcs.stand.ac.uk/history/Biographies/Dirichlet.html. 3 For more information about Simon Denis Poisson (17811840), see e http://wwwgroups.dcs.stand.ac.uk/history/Biographies/Poisson.html. 2 ...
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This note was uploaded on 02/27/2012 for the course MATH 417 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '11 term at SUNY Albany.
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