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Is there any reference (book or articles) which made the history (up to the modern times) and the conceptual development of Ordinary Differential Equations and Partial Differential Equations? It will be great if it will be mentioned the key ideas and people of the past, the problems which are to be solved nowadays and the principal directions of the present research in these fields.

Thanks a lot!

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4 Answers 4

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Another useful reference on the history of PDE theory is "The Prehistory of The Theory of Distributions" by Jesper Lützen.

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As J. Dieudonné eloquently pointed out in Chapter A V of A panorama of pure mathematics (as seen by N. Bourbaki), this is an extremely broad question:

The theory of partial differential equations has been studied incessantly for more than two centuries. By reason of its permanent symbiosis with almost all parts of physics, as well as its ever closer connections with many other branches of mathematics, it is one of the largest and most diverse regions of present-day mathematics, and the vastness of its bibliography defies the imagination.

For a long time, the theory of ordinary differential equations served more or less consciously as a model for partial differential equations, and it is only rather recently that it has come to be realized that the differences between the two theories are much more numerous and more profound than the analogies.

  • Dieudonné, Jean, A panorama of pure mathematics (as seen by N. Bourbaki). Transl. from the French by I. G. Macdonald, Pure and Applied Mathematics, 97. New York etc.: Academic Press, a subsidiary of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers. X, 289 p. (1982). ZBL0482.00003.

However, I'd like to mention at least a couple of very interesting surveys and a well-known graduate textbook:

  • Brézis, Haïm; Browder, Felix, Partial differential equations in the 20th century, Adv. Math. 135, No. 1, 76-144 (1998). ZBL0915.01011.
  • Nirenberg, Louis, Partial differential equations in the first half of the century, Pier, Jean-Paul (ed.), Development of mathematics 1900-1950. Based on a symposium organized by the Luxembourg Mathematical Society in June 1992, at Château Bourglinster, Luxembourg. Basel: Birkhäuser. 479-515 (1994). ZBL0807.01017.
  • Evans, Lawrence C., Partial differential equations, Graduate Studies in Mathematics 19. Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society (AMS) (ISBN 978-0-8218-4974-3/hbk). xxi, 749 p. (2010). ZBL1194.35001.
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    $\begingroup$ There is also a fair bit of history on the analysis side of PDEs in J. Dieudonné's History of Functional Analysis (North-Holland, 1983). $\endgroup$ Aug 22, 2018 at 12:18
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You might consider reading Hairer, Wanner: Analysis by Its History, which includes differential equations in its treatment, and Bertil Gustafsson Scientific Computing which focuses on the history of computational mathematics and its applications. The latter book will be published in about two months.

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  • $\begingroup$ Bertil Gustafsson´s book has now been published. $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2019 at 8:17
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The article by Klainerman PDE AS A UNIFIED SUBJECT could be helpful too.

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