DSolve can be used for finding the general solution to a differential equation or system of differential equations. The general solution gives information about the structure of the complete solution space for the problem. However, in practice, one is often interested only in particular solutions that satisfy some conditions related to the area of application. These conditions are usually of two types.

The symbolic solution of both IVPs and BVPs requires knowledge of the general solution for the problem. The final step, in which the particular solution is obtained using the initial or boundary values, involves mostly algebraic operations, and is similar for IVPs and for BVPs.

IVPs and BVPs for

*linear *differential equations are solved rather easily since the final algebraic step involves the solution of linear equations. However, if the underlying equations are

*nonlinear*, the solution could have several branches, or the arbitrary constants from the general solution could occur in different arguments of transcendental functions. As a result, it is not always possible to complete the final algebraic step for nonlinear problems. Finally, if the underlying equations have

*piecewise* (that is, discontinuous) coefficients, an IVP naturally breaks up into simpler IVPs over the regions in which the coefficients are continuous.