Nonlinear Dynamics

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 61–102

Resolving Controversies in the Application of the Method of Multiple Scales and the Generalized Method of Averaging


DOI: 10.1007/s11071-005-3937-y

Cite this article as:
Nayfeh, A.H. Nonlinear Dyn (2005) 40: 61. doi:10.1007/s11071-005-3937-y


I compare application of the method of multiple scales with reconstitution and the generalized method of averaging for determining higher-order approximations of three single-degree-of-freedom systems and a two-degree-of-freedom system. Three implementations of the method of multiple scales are considered, namely, application of the method to the system equations expressed as second-order equations, as first-order equations, and in complex-variable form. I show that all of these methods produce the same modulation equations.

I address the problem of determining higher-order approximate solutions of the Duffing equation in the case of primary resonance. I show that the conclusions of Rahman and Burton that the method of multiple scales, the generalized method of averaging, and Lie series and transforms might lead to incorrect results, in that spurious solutions occur and the obtained frequency–response curves bear little resemblance to the actual response, is the result of their using parameter values for which the neglected terms are the same order as the retained terms. I show also that spurious solutions cannot be avoided, in general, in any consistent expansion and their presence does not constitute a limitation of the methods. In particular, I show that, for the Duffing equation, the second-order frequency–response equation does not possess spurious solutions for the case of hardening nonlinearity, but possesses spurious solutions for the case of softening nonlinearity. For sufficiently small nonlinearity, the spurious solutions are far removed from the actual response. But as the strength of the nonlinearity increases, these solutions move closer to the backbone and eventually distort it. This is not a drawback of the perturbation methods but an indication of an application of the analysis for parameter values outside the range of validity of the expansion.

Also, I address the problem of obtaining non-Hamiltonian modulation equations in the application of the method of multiple scales to multi-degree-of-freedom Hamiltonian systems written as second-order equations in time and how this problem can be overcome by attacking the state-space form of the governing equations. Moreover, I show that application of a variation of the method of Rahman and Burton to multi-degree-of-freedom systems leads to results that do not agree with those obtained with the generalized method of averaging.


higher-order approximationsmethod of averagingmethod of multiple scalesperturbation methods

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics, MC 0219Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityBlacksburgU.S.A.