In mathematics, Laplace's equation is a second-order partial differential equation named after Pierre-Simon Laplace who first studied its properties. This is often written as:
where ∆ = ∇² is the Laplace operator and is a scalar function. In general, ∆ = ∇² is the Laplace–Beltrami or Laplace–de Rham operator.
Laplace's equation and Poisson's equation are the simplest examples of elliptic partial differential equations. Solutions of Laplace's equation are called harmonic functions.
The general theory of solutions to Laplace's equation is known as potential theory. The solutions of Laplace's equation are the harmonic functions, which are important in many fields of science, notably the fields of electromagnetism, astronomy, and fluid dynamics, because they can be used to accurately describe the behavior of electric, gravitational, and fluid potentials. In the study of heat conduction, the Laplace equation is the steady-state heat equation.
Famous quotes containing the words equation and/or laplace:
“A nation fights well in proportion to the amount of men and materials it has. And the other equation is that the individual soldier in that army is a more effective soldier the poorer his standard of living has been in the past.”
—Norman Mailer (b. 1923)
“Given for one instant an intelligence which could comprehend all the forces by which nature is animated and the respective positions of the beings which compose it, if moreover this intelligence were vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in the same formula both the movements of the largest bodies in the universe and those of the lightest atom; to it nothing would be uncertain, and the future as the past would be present to its eyes.”
—Pierre Simon De Laplace (17491827)