Many interesting and important real life problems are modeled using ordinary differential equations (ODE). These include, but are not limited to, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, economics, sociology, psychology etc. In mathematics, ODE have a deep connection with geometry, among other branches. In many of these situations, we are interested in understanding the future, given the present phenomenon. In other words, we wish to understand the time evolution or the dynamics of a given phenomenon. The subject field of ODE has developed, over the years, to answer adequately such questions. Yet, there are many important intriguing situations, where complete answers are still awaited. The present book aims at giving a good foundation for a beginner, starting at an undergraduate level, without compromising on the rigour.
We have had several occasions to teach the students at the undergraduate and graduate level in various universities and institutions across the country, including our own institutions, on many topics covered in the book. In our experience and the interactions we have had with the students, we felt that many students lack a clear notion of ODE including the simplest integral calculus problem. For other students, a course on ODE meant learning a few tricks to solve equations. In India, in particular, the books which are generally prescribed, consist of a few tricks to solve problems, making ODE one of the most uninteresting subject in the mathematical curriculum. We are of the opinion that many students at the beginning level do not have clarity about the essence of ODE, compared to other subjects in mathematics.
While we were still contemplating to write a book on ODE, to address some of the issues discussed earlier, we got an opportunity to present a video course on ODE, under the auspices of the National Programme for Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, and our course is freely available on the NPTEL website (see www.nptel.ac.in/courses/ 111108081). In this video course, we have presented several topics. We have also tried to address many of the doubts that students may have at the beginning level and the misconceptions some other students may possess.