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Unformatted text preview: 24 The Laplace Transform (Intro) The Laplace transform is a mathematical tool based on integration that has a number of appli- cations. It particular, it can simplify the solving of many differential equations. We will find it particularly useful when dealing with nonhomogeneous equations in which the forcing func- tions are not continuous. This makes it a valuable tool for engineers and scientists dealing with real-world applications. By the way, the Laplace transform is just one of many integral transforms in general use. Conceptually and computationally, it is probably the simplest. If you understand the Laplace transform, then you will find it much easier to pick up the other transforms as needed. 24.1 Basic Definition and Examples Definition, Notation and Other Basics Let f be a suitable function (more on that later). The Laplace transform of f , denoted by either F or L [ f ] , is the function given by F ( s ) = L [ f ] | s = integraldisplay f ( t ) e st dt . (24.1) ! Example 24.1: For our first example, let us use f ( t ) = braceleftBigg 1 if t 2 if 2 < t . This is the relatively simple discontinuous function graphed in figure 24.1a. To compute the Laplace transform of this function, we need to break the integral into two parts: F ( s ) = L [ f ] | s = integraldisplay f ( t ) e st dt = integraldisplay 2 f ( t ) bracehtipupleft bracehtipdownrightbracehtipdownleft bracehtipupright 1 e st dt + integraldisplay 2 f ( t ) bracehtipupleft bracehtipdownrightbracehtipdownleft bracehtipupright e st dt = integraldisplay 2 e st dt + integraldisplay 2 dt = integraldisplay 2 e st dt . 471 472 The Laplace Transform (a) (b) T S 1 2 2 1 1 2 Figure 24.1: The graph of (a) the discontinuous function f ( t ) from example 24.1 and (b) its Laplace transform F ( s ) . So, if s negationslash= , F ( s ) = integraldisplay 2 e st dt = e st s vextendsingle vextendsingle vextendsingle vextendsingle 2 t = = 1 s bracketleftbig e s 2 e s bracketrightbig = 1 s bracketleftbig 1 e 2 s bracketrightbig . And if s = , F ( s ) = F ( ) = integraldisplay 2 e t dt = integraldisplay 2 1 dt = 2 . This is the function sketched in figure 24.1b. (Using LHpitals rule, you can easily show that F ( s ) F ( ) as s . So, despite our need to compute F ( s ) separately when s = , F is a continuous function.) As the example just illustrated, we really are transforming the function f ( t ) into another function F ( s ) . This process of transforming f ( t ) to F ( s ) is also called the Laplace transform and, unsurprisingly, is denoted by L . Thus, when we say the Laplace transform, we can be referring to either the transformed function F ( s ) or to the process of computing F ( s ) from f ( t ) ....
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