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< 21.6 Summary and Problems | Contents | 22.1 ODE Initial Value Problem Statement >

Chapter 22. Ordinary Differential Equation - Initial Value Problems


Differential equations are relationships between a function and its derivatives, and they are used to model systems in every engineering and science field. For example, a simple differential equation relates the acceleration of a car with its position. Unlike differentiation where analytic solutions can usually be computed, in general finding exact solutions to differential equations is very hard. Therefore, numerical solutions are critical to making these equations useful for designing and understanding engineering and science systems.

Because differential equations are so common in engineering, physics, and mathematics, the study of them is a vast and rich field that cannot be covered in this introductory text. This chapter covers ordinary differential equations with specified initial values, a subclass of differential equations problems called initial value problems. To reflect the importance of this class of problem, Python has a whole suite of functions to solve this kind of problem. By the end of this chapter, you should understand what ordinary differential equation initial value problems are, how to pose these problems to Python, and how these Python solvers work.