© 2009

Potential Theory

  • Lester L. Helms

Part of the Universitext book series (UTX)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 1-6
  3. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 7-52
  4. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 53-105
  5. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 107-147
  6. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 149-196
  7. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 197-240
  8. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 241-265
  9. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 267-301
  10. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 303-331
  11. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 333-369
  12. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 371-389
  13. Lester L. Helms
    Pages 391-429
  14. Back Matter
    Pages 431-441

About this book


Aimed at graduate students and researchers in mathematics, physics, and engineering, this book presents a clear path from calculus to classical potential theory and beyond, moving the reader into a fertile area of mathematical research as quickly as possible. The author revises and updates material from his classic work, Introduction to Potential Theory (1969), to provide a modern text that introduces all the important concepts of classical potential theory.

In the first half of the book, the subject matter is developed meticulously from first principles using only calculus. Commencing with the inverse square law for gravitational and electromagnetic forces and the divergence theorem of the calculus, the author develops methods for constructing solutions of Laplace’s equation on a region with prescribed values on the boundary of the region.

The second half addresses more advanced material aimed at those with a background of a senior undergraduate or beginning graduate course in real analysis. For specialized regions, namely spherical chips, solutions of Laplace’s equation are constructed having prescribed normal derivatives on the flat portion of the boundary and prescribed values on the remaining portion of the boundary. By means of transformations known as diffeomorphisms, these solutions are morphed into local solutions on regions with curved boundaries. The Perron-Weiner-Brelot method is then used to construct global solutions for elliptic partial differential equations involving a mixture of prescribed values of a boundary differential operator on part of the boundary and prescribed values on the remainder of the boundary.


Boundary Dirichlet Elliptic Oblique Potential Potential theory mathematics partial differential equation physics

Editors and affiliations

  • Lester L. Helms
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MathematicsUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA

Bibliographic information


From the reviews:

“The author sets the goal of the book as getting the reader from real analysis to the front line of potential theory as quickly as possible. … Each chapter begins with some physical and historical context … . The excellent index is also very helpful in navigating the material. … a fine text for self-study, reference, or a graduate course. Researchers in the field will consider it a standard and those in an adjacent field … will also find it a valuable reference.” (Bill Wood, The Mathematical Association of America, May, 2010)

“The first part of the book deals with the basics of classical potential theory while the rest of the book deals with the solution to elliptic partial differential equations with various boundary conditions. … Proofs are given in easy to follow detail. … the book is very suitable as a textbook … . On the whole, this book is a very useful addition to available resources. … There is also an index, a notation guide and an extensive bibliography.” (P. Lappan, Mathematical Reviews, Issue 2011 a)