In most undergraduate physics courses, differential equations that arise from the description of physical systems are, very often, summarily linearized. This is done to find analytical solutions using standard methods. With the present day availability of microcomputers, such approximations are not always necessary. In this article a simple‐minded finite difference numerical method is shown to be able to handle the nonlinear partial differential equation of a standard physical system—a stretched string. The method is general enough to be applicable for a large class of systems. The numerical computation shows that large wave pulses will distort and sinusoidal standing waves will develop higher harmonics. A computer animated presentation is used to make the results look more realistic.

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