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Hi I am just beginning to learn Mathematica and this is my first time I have been exposed to any type of coding. I am encountering a problem in a basic physics problem. For example we are always interested in solving the motion of a projectile with differential equation

x''[t]+k x'[t]==0

Usually though the initial conditions of the velocity in the x (and y direction) depend on the angle (theta) and the magnitude of the initial velocity (v0). Therefore the initial conditions usually look like:

x[0]==0,x'[0]==v0 Cos[theta]

My question is there a way to work around DSolve so that it can output a solution of the form x[t,v0,theta]? I have tried calling the initial condition v0x and simply defining that as

v0x:=v0 Cos[theta]

But I haven't any luck...

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Something like this?

sol = First @ DSolve[{D[x[t, v0, theta], {t, 2}] + k D[x[t, v0, theta], t] == 0, 
  x[0, v0, theta] == 0, 
  Derivative[1, 0, 0][x][0, v0, theta] == v0 Cos[theta]}, x, {t, v0, 
  theta}]
(*  {x -> Function[{t, v0, theta}, (E^(-k t) (-1 + E^(k t)) v0 Cos[theta])/k]}  *)

Usage:

x[t, 10, Pi/4] /. sol
(*  (5 Sqrt[2] E^(-k t) (-1 + E^(k t)))/k  *)

(Note this is not projectile motion under gravity, but it gives you the idea how to use DSolve, I hope.)

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  • $\begingroup$ This was what I was going for. Genius. I am going to play around with Mathematica and see if I can solve in y motion and how to use the solutions to plot. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – phandaman
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ @phandaman You're welcome. Good luck! $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 11:14

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