I am sure that something must be found. There must exist a notion of generalized functions which are to functions what the real numbers are to the rationals (G. Peano, 1912) Not that much effort is needed, for it is such a smooth and simple theory (F. Tre`ves, 1975) In undergraduate physics a lecturer will be tempted to say on certain occasions: "e;Let ?. x/ be a function on the line that equals 0 away from 0 and is in?nite at 0 in such a way that its total integral is 1. The most important property of ?. x/ is exempli?ed Z by the identity 1 . x/?. x/ dx D . 0/; 1 where is any continuous function of x. "e; Such a function ?. x/ is an object that one frequently would like to use, but of course there is no such function, because a function that is 0 everywhere except at one point has integral 0. All the same, it is important to realize what our lecturer is trying to accomplish: to describe an object in terms of the way it behaves when integrated against a function. It is for such purposes that the theory of distributions, or "e;generalized functions,"e; was created. It can be formulated in all dimensions, its mathematical scope is vast, and it has revolutionized modern analysis.
Theory and Applications