Singular perturbations in noisy dynamical systems

B. J. Matkowsky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Consider a deterministic dynamical system in a domain containing a stable equilibrium, e.g., a particle in a potential well. The particle, independent of initial conditions, eventually reaches the bottom of the well. If however, the particle is subjected to white noise, due, e.g., to collisions with a population of smaller, lighter particles comprising the medium through which the particle travels, a dramatic difference in the behaviour of the Brownian particle occurs. The particle will exit the well. The natural questions then are how long will it take for it to exit and from where on the boundary of the domain of attraction of the deterministic equilibrium (the rim of the well) will it exit. We compute the mean first passage time to the boundary and the mean probabilities of the exit positions. When the noise is small each quantity satisfies a singularly perturbed deterministic boundary value problem. We treat the problem by the method of matched asymptotic expansions (MAE) and generalizations thereof. MAE has been used successfully to solve problems in many applications. However, there exist problems for which MAE does not suffice. Among these are problems exhibiting boundary layer resonance, i.e., the problem of 'spurious solutions', which led some to conclude that this was 'the failure of MAE'. We present a physical argument and four mathematical arguments to modify or augment MAE to make it successful. Finally, we discuss applications of the theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)570-593
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Mathematics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • JWKB methods
  • Singular perturbations
  • asymptotic expansions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Singular perturbations in noisy dynamical systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this