Response of Physical Systems

Response of Physical Systems

Response of Physical Systems

Response of Physical Systems

Excerpt

This book is directed both to students and workers in engineering and applied physics, who have an immediate interest in learning the theory applicable to physical systems, and to those who have a different or broader interest in system response and can therefore profitably survey the successful application of mathematics to physical systems. It is not implied that these two groups are mutually exclusive, but the second group is considered to be larger--including, in addition to physicists and engineers, workers in such fields as biology, sociology, economics, and philosophy.

The book is based on the conviction that both classes of readers should be led over the same path, a broad horizontal traverse of the whole domain at a modest elevation, rather than the scaling of any individual peaks of learning. This conviction has influenced the nature and scope of the work toward a maximum combination of simplicity, generality, and continuity. Some of the trials that beset the effort to achieve this combination may be mentioned.

A most vexing problem is the choice of symbols and terms. The ideal state, of having a single meaning for each symbol, and vice versa, is doubtless beyond human grasp. But it may seem to the reader, viewing the multitudinous q-symbols in the text, that I have deliberately struck out in the opposite direction. This is not so: in every case, the plain q has the same meaning, namely, the response quantity in the problem at hand; and every other q-symbol means a quantity having the same dimensions as q. (There is one exception, the symbol q , introduced in Section 5.4.) I feel that this notation is an important means of establishing the desired generality and continuity of viewpoint, and the reader who is at first repelled by the notation (as many doubtless will be) is asked to evaluate it in view of these goals.

To the extent consistent with these aims, an effort has been made to adopt symbols and terms already in use by established workers in various fields of system response. In this I have been particularly influenced by my association from 1937 to 1941 with . . .

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