A differential equation is an equation involving an unknown function of one or more variables, its derivatives and the variables. This type of equations comes up often in many different branches of mathematics. They are also especially important in many problems in physics and engineering.
There are many types of differential equations. An ordinary differential equation (ODE) is a differential equation where the unknown function depends on a single variable. A general ODE has the form
where the unknown is usually understood to be a real or complex valued function of , and is usually understood to be either a real or complex variable. The of a differential equation is the order of the highest derivative appearing in Eq. (1). In this case, assuming that depends nontrivially on , the equation is of th order.
If a differential equation is satisfied by a function which identically vanishes (i.e. for each in the of interest), then the equation is said to be homogeneous. Otherwise it is said to be nonhomogeneous (or inhomogeneous). Many differential equations can be expressed in the form
Other types of differential equations involve more complicated involving the unknown function. A partial differential equation (PDE) is a differential equation where the unknown function depends on more than one variable. In a delay differential equation (DDE), the unknown function depends on the state of the system at some instant in the past.
Solving differential equations is a difficult task. Three major types of approaches are possible:
Exact methods are generally to equations of low order and/or to linear systems.
Qualitative methods do not give explicit for the solutions, but provide pertaining to the asymptotic behavior of the system.
Finally, numerical methods allow to construct approximated solutions.
A common example of an ODE is the equation for simple harmonic motion
This equation is of second order. It can be transformed into a system of two first order differential equations by introducing a variable . Indeed, we then have
A common example of a PDE is the wave equation in three dimensions
|Date of creation||2013-03-22 12:41:22|
|Last modified on||2013-03-22 12:41:22|
|Last modified by||rspuzio (6075)|
|Defines||ordinary differential equation|
|Defines||partial differential equation|
|Defines||linear differential equation|
|Defines||nonlinear differential equation|