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Mathematics LibreTexts

7: Differential Equations

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  • [ "article:topic-guide", "license:ccbysa", "authorname:activecalc" ]

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    • 7.1: An Introduction to Differential Equations
      Here introduce the concept of differential equations. A differential equation is an equation that provides a description of a function’s derivative, which means that it tells us the function’s rate of change. Using this information, we would like to learn as much as possible about the function itself. For instance, we would ideally like to have an algebraic description of the function.
    • 7.2: Qualitative Behavior of Solutions to Differential Equations
      Since the derivative at a point tells us the slope of the tangent line at this point, a differential equation gives us crucial information about the tangent lines to the graph of a solution. We will use this information about the tangent lines to create a slope field for the differential equation, which enables us to sketch solutions to initial value problems. Our aim will be to understand the solutions qualitatively.
    • 7.3: Euler's Method
      Euler’s method is an algorithm for approximating the solution to an initial value problem by following the tangent lines while we take horizontal steps across the t-axis. If we wish to approximate y(t) for some fixed t by taking horizontal steps of size ∆t, then the error in our approximation is proportional to ∆t.
    • 7.4: Separable Differential Equations
      A separable differential equation is one that may be rewritten with all occurrences of the dependent variable multiplying the derivative and all occurrences of the independent variable on the other side of the equation. We may find the solutions to certain separable differential equations by separating variables, integrating with respect to t, and ultimately solving the resulting algebraic equation for y. This technique allows us to solve many important differential equations.
    • 7.5: Modeling with Differential Equations
      In our work to date, we have seen several ways that differential equations arise in the natural world, from the growth of a population to the temperature of a cup of coffee. In this section, we will look more closely at how differential equations give us a natural way to describe various phenomena. As we’ll see, the key is to focus on understanding the different factors that cause a quantity to change.
    • 7.6: Population Growth and the Logistic Equation
      The growth of the earth’s population is one of the pressing issues of our time. Will the population continue to grow? Or will it perhaps level off at some point, and if so, when? In this section, we will look at two ways in which we may use differential equations to help us address questions such as these. Before we begin, let’s consider again two important differential equations that we have seen in earlier work this chapter.
    • 7.E: Differential Equations (Exercises)
      These are homework exercises to accompany Chapter 7 of Boelkins et al. "Active Calculus" Textmap.


    Matt Boelkins (Grand Valley State University), David Austin (Grand Valley State University), Steve Schlicker (Grand Valley State University)