Distribution Theory: February-June 2007
This is a reading course aimed at master students in mathematics and
Time and place: Friday, 9.00 (precisely) until 11.00 hour,
room B.344, Nieuwe Achtergracht 166.
The last sessions will be on June 1, 9.30-11.00 hour in P.015A and on
June 8, 9.00-11.00 in P.015B.
Credits: 6 EC
J.J. Duistermaat and J.A.C. Kolk,
Distributions: Theory and Applications,
(a preliminary version has been made available to students).
Students will also be pointed to a regularly updated list of errata.
Optional further reading
Distributions (or generalized functions) were
introduced by the French mathematician Laurent Schwartz in 1945. The
theory gives meaning to the (iterated) derivative of a continuous
function on R or Rn, even if this function is non-differentiable.
Distributions can be viewed as continuous linear functionals on a
space of so-called test functions: the C^infinity functions of compact
support. Operations on distributions, like the derivative, can be
defined by their dual action on the space of test functions. The
distributions form a linear space which contains the linear space of
continuous functions, but also the linear space of complex measures,
as subspaces. Dirac's delta "function" and its derivatives are famous
examples of distributions.
G. Friedlander and M. Joshi,
Introduction to the theory of distributions,
Cambridge University Press, 1999,
second printing (paperback).
Théorie des distributions,
Hermann, Paris, 1966.
The Fourier transform can be extended to a transform on the space
of tempered distributions, a subspace of the space of all distributions.
Here the rapidly decreasing C^infinity functions play the role
of test functions.
Distributions are nowadays a standard tool in analysis, in the theory of
PDE's, and in mathematical physics.
The course intends to provide a working knowledge of distribution theory,
largely avoiding topological vector spaces, to develop Fourier analysis
in the generalized setting of tempered distributions, and to give some tools
for applying distribution theory to PDE's.
Before each session students read one or two chapters from the book by
Duistermaat and Kolk and prepare exercises from the book.
During the session questions about the text will be answered, and some of the
material will be further clarified or amplified.
Next students in turn give solutions to exercises on the blackboard.
A combination of exercises made in class, hand-in exercises and an oral examen.
See the paper
Laurent Schwartz (1915-2002) in
Notices Amer. Math. Soc., October 2003, Volume 50, Number 9,
test functions and distributions,
multiplication by smooth functions,
tensor products of distributions,
tempered distributions and Fourier transforms
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