Variable Order and Distributed Order Fractional Operators


Many physical processes appear to exhibit fractional order behavior thatmay vary with time or space. The continuum of order in the fractionalcalculus allows the order of the fractional operator to be considered asa variable. This paper develops the concept of variable and distributedorder fractional operators. Definitions based on the Riemann–Liouvilledefinition are introduced and the behavior of the new operators isstudied. Several time domain definitions that assign different argumentsto the order q in the Riemann–Liouville definition are introduced. Foreach of these definitions various characteristics are determined. Theseinclude: time invariance of the operator, operator initialization,physical realization, linearity, operational transforms, and memorycharacteristics of the defining kernels.

A measure (m 2) for memory retentiveness of the order history isintroduced. A generalized linear argument for the order q allows theconcept of `tailored' variable order fractional operators whose m 2 memory may be chosen for a particular application. Memory retentiveness (m 2) andorder dynamic behavior are investigated and applications are shown.

The concept of distributed order operators where the order of thetime based operator depends on an additional independent (spatial)variable is also forwarded. Several definitions and their Laplacetransforms are developed, analysis methods with these operators aredemonstrated, and examples shown. Finally operators of multivariable anddistributed order are defined and their various applications areoutlined.

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Lorenzo, C.F., Hartley, T.T. Variable Order and Distributed Order Fractional Operators. Nonlinear Dynamics 29, 57–98 (2002).

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  • variable order fractional operator
  • distributed order fractional operator
  • order distribution
  • Laplace transform
  • tailored fractional order operator
  • memory measure