A distribution is a continuous linear functional on the space $\mathcal{C}^{\infty}_c$ of smooth (indefinitely differentiable) functions with compact support. Though they appeared in formal computations in the physics and engineering literature in the late $19^{th}$ century, their formal setting was brought up by the work of S. Sobolev and L. Schwartz in the middle of the $20^{th}$ century.

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