Differential Equations For Dummies
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The most common classification of differential equations is based on order. The order of a differential equation simply is the order of its highest derivative. You can have first-, second-, and higher-order differential equations.

First-order differential equations involve derivatives of the first order, such as in this example:


Second-order differential equations involve derivatives of the second order, such as in these examples:


Higher-order differential equations are those involving derivatives higher than the second order (big surprise on that clever name!). Differential equations of all orders can use the y' notation, like this:


About This Article

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Steven Holzner is an award-winning author of science, math, and technical books. He got his training in differential equations at MIT and at Cornell University, where he got his PhD. He has been on the faculty at both MIT and Cornell University, and has written such bestsellers as Physics For Dummies and Physics Workbook For Dummies.

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