Some issues related to the 1D heat equation are revisited and framed within the context of the free-space paraxial propagation, formally accounted for by the 2D paraxial wave equation. In particular, the Appell transformation, which is well known in the theory of the heat equation, is reformulated in optical terms, and accordingly interpreted in the light of the propagation of given source functions, which are in a definite relation with the source functions of the original wavefunctions. Basic to the discussion is the Lie-algebra-based approach, as developed in a series of seminal papers by Kalnins, Miller and Boyer, to evolutionary-type equations, ruled by Hamiltonian operators underlying a harmonic oscillator-like symmetry algebra. Indeed, both the heat equation and the paraxial wave equation are particular cases of this kind of equation. When interpreting such an approach in terms of the propagation of assigned 'source' functions, the transformations between wavefunctions may be traced back to definite relations between the respective source functions. Thus, the optical Appell transformation is seen to be a manifestation of the correspondence between wavefunctions generated by eigenstates of operators, which are linked through a Fourier-similarity transformation. As a mere consequence, one can introduce the fractional Appell transformation, thus displaying a family of symmetry transformations parameterized by a continuous parameter. © 2011 IOP Publishing Ltd.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics