I am solving a system of first-order equations using matrix operations and the Laplace Transform. I begin with the matrix equation that represents the solution to my system, like this:

$$ \underline{\underline{\mathbf{m}}} \mathcal{L} { \mathbf{N}(t) } = \mathbf{N_0}$$

Bold symbols are vectors (functions) and double-underlined symbols are matrix. $\mathcal{L}$ is the Laplace Transform.

To make this computation I first write and invert the matrix $\underline{\underline{m}}$.

m[s_, l1_, l2_] := {{s + l1, 0}, {-l1, s + l2}}
invm[s_, l1_, l2_] := Inverse[m[s, l1, l2]]

Mathematica graphics

Then I can input the initial conditions:

Subscript[N, 0] = {1, 0}

Then I use the inverse to get the Laplace transform of the (vector) solution:

R0[s_, l1_, l2_] := invm[s, l1, l2] . Subscript[N, 0]

Then, the final solution is simply an inverse Laplace Transform of this resulting vector, so I attempt:

N[t_, l1_, l2_] := Simplify[InverseLaplaceTransform[R0[s, l1, l2], s, t]]

But this command results in the error:

Mathematica graphics

Can I get the inverse Laplace Transform to work on a vector in order to simplify my notation going forward?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Subscript[N, 0] = {1, 0} Do not use N as variable name, this is a function name in Mathematica. gives the numerical value of expr. Try with another lower case letter and see if this fixes the issue you are having. Also, I would avoid using Subscript in Mathematica myself. The less fancy letters you use, the less problems you will have. You can use indexed variables instead if you must. $\endgroup$
    – Nasser
    May 28, 2023 at 4:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And the actual error is coming from your call N[t_, l1_, l2_] . Again N is builtin function. Try n[t_, l1_, l2_] and also remove the use of the other N you had before. $\endgroup$
    – Nasser
    May 28, 2023 at 4:25

1 Answer 1


I do not understand your use of Subscript[N, 0] = {1, 0} actually and what it is for? So I might be overlooking something here. But why not just


Mathematica graphics

I would pass all the symbols involved, this includes $t$ and also $s$. Avoid using global symbols as they could be assigned to some values in your notebook.

  • $\begingroup$ Well the Subscript[N,0] = {1,0} was just because the notation made sense, no particular reason. I didn't know N[] was protected, so that is the answer. $\endgroup$
    – villaa
    May 28, 2023 at 19:10

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