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This paper has been published in SIGMA. To download the published version of the paper, just click here.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DMS-1513054. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recomendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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Rational Solutions of the Painlevé-II Equation Revisited

Peter D. Miller and Yue Sheng

Department of Mathematics, University of Michigan


The rational solutions of the Painlevé-II equation appear in several applications and are known to have many remarkable algebraic and analytic properties. They also have several different representations, useful in different ways for establishing these properties. In particular, Riemann-Hilbert representations have proven to be useful for extracting the asymptotic behavior of the rational solutions in the limit of large degree (equivalently the large-parameter limit). We review the elementary properties of the rational Painlevé-II functions, and then we describe three different Riemann-Hilbert representations of them that have appeared in the literature: a representation by means of the isomonodromy theory of the Flaschka-Newell Lax pair, a second representation by means of the isomonodromy theory of the Jimbo-Miwa Lax pair, and a third representation found by Bertola and Bothner related to pseudo-orthogonal polynomials. We prove that the Flaschka-Newell and Bertola-Bothner Riemann-Hilbert representations of the rational Painlevé-II functions are explicitly connected to each other. Finally, we review recent results describing the asymptotic behavior of the rational Painlevé-II functions obtained from these Riemann-Hilbert representations by means of the steepest descent method.