Does entropy really increase no matter what we do? Can light pass through a Big Bang? What is certain about the Heisenberg uncertainty principle? Many laws of physics are formulated in terms of differential equations, and the questions above are about the nature of their solutions. This book puts together the three main aspects of the topic of partial differential equations, namely theory, phenomenology, and applications, from a contemporary point of view. In addition to the three principal examples of the wave equation, the heat equation, and Laplace's equation, the book has chapters on dispersion and the Schrodinger equation, nonlinear hyperbolic conservation laws, and shock waves.
The book covers material for an introductory course that is aimed at beginning graduate or advanced undergraduate level students. Readers should be conversant with multivariate calculus and linear algebra. They are also expected to have taken an introductory level course in analysis. Each chapter includes a comprehensive set of exercises, and most chapters have additional projects, which are intended to give students opportunities for more in-depth and open-ended study of solutions of partial differential equations and their properties.