The molecular dynamics simulations discussed in Chap. 13 required the use of ordinary differential equations (ODE) when describing particle trajectories. For these, only one independent variable, in this case the time, was needed. But there also exist a very large range of physical problem settings in which the modeling process is assisted by partial differential equations (PDE) in a way that is somewhere in the area between obvious, suitable or necessary. An example is structural mechanics, which among other things considers the deformation of structures under the influence of forces. Such analyses are relevant in entirely different scenarios—from the construction of bridges to the construction of micro-electromechanical sensors and actuators (MEMS).
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