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The Laplace Transform: Motivating the Definition

by Howard Dwyer

Abstract: Most undergraduate texts in ordinary differential equations (ODE) contain a chapter covering the Laplace transform which begins with the definition of the transform, followed by a sequence of theorems which establish the properties of the transform, followed by a number of examples. Many students accept the transform as a Gift From The Gods, but the better students will wonder how anyone could possibly have discovered/developed it. This article outlines a presentation, which offers a plausible (hopefully) progression of thoughts, which leads to integral transforms in general, and the Laplace transform in particular.



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