partial differential equation for distribution of heat in a given region over time
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- The wave equation was quickly followed by remarkably similar equations for gravitation, electrostatics, elasticity, and heat flow. Many bore the names of their inventors: Laplace's equation, Poisson's equation. The equation for heat does not; it bears the unimaginative and not entirely accurate name 'heat equation'. It was introduced by Joseph Fourier, and his ideas led to the creation of a new area of mathematics whose ramifications were to spread far beyond its original source.