Schaum’s Outlines: Laplace Transforms

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In mathematics the Laplace transform is an integral transform named after its discoverer Pierre-Simon Laplace (/ləˈplɑːs/). It takes a function of a positive real variable t (often time) to a function of a complex variable s (frequency).

The Laplace transform is very similar to the Fourier transform. While the Fourier transform of a function is a complex function of a real variable (frequency), the Laplace transform of a function is a complex function of a complex variable. Laplace transforms are usually restricted to functions of t with t > 0. A consequence of this restriction is that the Laplace transform of a function is a holomorphic function of the variable s. Unlike the Fourier transform, the Laplace transform of a distribution is generally a well-behaved function. Also techniques of complex variables can be used directly to study Laplace transforms. As a holomorphic function, the Laplace transform has a power series representation. This power series expresses a function as a linear superposition of moments of the function. This perspective has applications in probability theory.

The Laplace transform is invertible on a large class of functions. The inverse Laplace transform takes a function of a complex variable s (often frequency) and yields a function of a real variable t (time). Given a simple mathematical or functional description of an input or output to a system, the Laplace transform provides an alternative functional description that often simplifies the process of analyzing the behavior of the system, or in synthesizing a new system based on a set of specifications. So, for example, Laplace transformation from the time domain to the frequency domain transforms differential equations into algebraic equations and convolution into multiplication. It has many applications in the sciences and technology.

Schaum’s Outlines: Laplace Transforms

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