The method of preliminary group classification is rigorously defined, enhanced and related to the theory of group classification of differential equations. Typical weaknesses in papers on this method are discussed and strategies to overcome them are presented. The preliminary group classification of the class of generalized diffusion equations of the form ut=f(x,u)ux2+g(x,u)uxxis carried out. This includes a justification for applying this method to the given class, the simultaneous computation of the equivalence algebra and equivalence (pseudo) group, as well as the classification of inequivalent appropriate subalgebras of the whole infinite-dimensional equivalence algebra. The extensions of the kernel algebra, which are induced by such subalgebras, are exhaustively described. These results improve those recently published in Commun Nonlinear Sci Numer Simul. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.
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