Consider now scheme (6.33) under the condition (6.42) that the roots of (6.38) are indeed of unit magnitude. These roots can be written, using , as
Just as in the case of a continuous system, one may define a phase and group velocities for the scheme, now in a numerical sense, exactly as per (). In the case of the wave equation, recall that these velocities were constant, and equal to for all wavenumbers. Now, however, both the phase and the group velocity are, in general, functions of wavenumber--in other words, different wavelengths travel at different speeds, and the scheme (6.33) is thus, in general, dispersive. This type of anomalous behaviour is purely a result of discretization, and is known as numerical dispersion--it should be carefully distinguished from physical dispersion of a model problem itself, which will appear when systems are subject to stiffness--such systems will be examined shortly in the next chapter. It is also clear that the numerical velocities will also depend on the choice of the parameter , which may be freely chosen for scheme (6.33), subject to the constraint (6.42). It is useful to plot the velocity curves, as functions of wavenumber for different values of , as shown in Figure .
Now, consider the very special case of . Under this condition, the dispersion relation (6.44) reduces to