Collective neutrino oscillations are induced by the presence of neutrinos themselves. As such, they are intrinsically nonlinear phenomena and are much more complex than linear counterparts such as the vacuum or Mikheyev-Smirnov-Wolfenstein oscillations. They obey integro-differential equations, for which it is also very challenging to obtain numerical solutions. If one focuses on the onset of collective oscillations, on the other hand, the equations can be linearized and the technique of linear analysis can be employed. Unfortunately, however, it is well known that such an analysis, when applied with discretizations of continuous angular distributions, suffers from the appearance of so-called spurious modes: unphysical eigenmodes of the discretized linear equations. In this paper, we analyze in detail the origin of these unphysical modes and present a simple solution to this annoying problem. We find that the spurious modes originate from the artificial production of pole singularities instead of a branch cut on the Riemann surface by the discretizations. The branching point singularities on the Riemann surface for the original nondiscretized equations can be recovered by approximating the angular distributions with polynomials and then performing the integrals analytically. We demonstrate for some examples that this simple prescription does remove the spurious modes. We also propose an even simpler method: a piecewise linear approximation to the angular distribution. It is shown that the same methodology is applicable to the multienergy case as well as to the dispersion relation approach that was proposed very recently.
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