# Math Help - square of differential operator

1. ## square of differential operator

Can differential operators be squared algebraically in the usual way? What would this even mean? Is this just the differential operator applied twice consecutively?

For example, does it make sense to compute $(\frac{\partial}{\partial x} - i \frac{\partial}{\partial y})^2 = (\frac{\partial}{\partial x})^2 -2i\frac{\partial}{\partial x}\frac{\partial}{\partial y}-(\frac{\partial}{\partial y})^2$? If so, what is to be done with, say, $(\frac{\partial}{\partial x})^2$? Is this just $\frac{\partial ^2}{\partial x^2}$?

2. Originally Posted by cribby
Can differential operators be squared algebraically in the usual way? What would this even mean? Is this just the differential operator applied twice consecutively?

For example, does it make sense to compute $(\frac{\partial}{\partial x} - i \frac{\partial}{\partial y})^2 = (\frac{\partial}{\partial x})^2 -2i\frac{\partial}{\partial x}\frac{\partial}{\partial y}-(\frac{\partial}{\partial y})^2$? If so, what is to be done with, say, $(\frac{\partial}{\partial x})^2$? Is this just $\frac{\partial ^2}{\partial x^2}$?
Yes, in "operator" notation, the basic operation is composition so $\left(\frac{\partial }{\partial x}- i\frac{\partial }{\partial y}\right)^2$ $= \frac{\partial^2}{\partial x^2}- 2i\frac{\partial^2}{\partial x\partial y}- \frac{\partial^2}{\partial y^2}$