# "Is there any abstract theory of electrical networks? Designing electrical networks is among the highly mathematical engineering disciplines, which uses a vast scope of techniques from Fourier analysis and complex function theory, to logic, combinatorics and topology. But, at least to me, with my minor knowledge of electrical engineering, it seems that at the end of the day, what is physically built out of these theories--I mean in a manufacturer laboratory-- is always a finite graphs with nodes labeled with ""simple functions"", in a way that the whole thing is again a function, with desired characteristics. But, from a mathematical point of view, it is customary to investigate such structured functions, in a categorical context and exploit the language and power of category theory, much

Is there any abstract theory of electrical networks?
Designing electrical networks is among the highly mathematical engineering disciplines, which uses a vast scope of techniques from Fourier analysis and complex function theory, to logic, combinatorics and topology. But, at least to me, with my minor knowledge of electrical engineering, it seems that at the end of the day, what is physically built out of these theories--I mean in a manufacturer laboratory-- is always a finite graphs with nodes labeled with "simple functions", in a way that the whole thing is again a function, with desired characteristics. But, from a mathematical point of view, it is customary to investigate such structured functions, in a categorical context and exploit the language and power of category theory, much like what programmers do.
Here, I do not dare to further these vague ideas and pose my question:
What is the right and fruitful mathematical foundation for the theory of electrical networks? Is there any purely axiomatic approach to the subject, accessible to a mathematics enthusiast with minor background in electrical engineering.
You can still ask an expert for help

• Questions are typically answered in as fast as 30 minutes

Solve your problem for the price of one coffee

• Math expert for every subject
• Pay only if we can solve it

spornya1
The theory of electrical circuits consists of several sub-theories. Predominant mathematical disciplines that arise in the study of electrical circuits are linear algebra, differential equations, functional analysis (Fourier Transform, Laplace Transform) and graph theory. A circuit is a physical system which implements a mathematical function. Thus a circuit can be abstracted from its physics into its mathematical behavior and one can choose to study the latter.
Then the mathematical behavior is captured by what is known as a "system", which there are various ways to define mathematically.
Some authors begin by defining the "input space" and the "output space" and then a system is a particular kind of "morphism" between those two spaces. Another abstract approach is to define input and output spaces and then take a system to be a subset of the cartesian product of the input and output space, i.e. the set of all input-output signal pairs that can occur in the system. This is known as the behavioral approach. Another approach is the algebraic approach.
As an example, Rudolf Kalman, the giant of mathematical systems theory, about 50 years ago, wrote a paper saying that a linear system is actually a module over a principal ideal domain. This opened the road for algebraic systems theory and if you like categories, you will find many interesting things there. But if you want to make a start, on the textbook level, i recommend any good book on Signals and Systems (e.g. Oppenheim's) or on Control Theory e.g. William Brogan's "Modern Control Theory". Warning: the further you go on this road, the less relevant your study will be with actual circuit design and analysis practices used in industry.
This is because there is a huge distance to be covered from having a meaningful and useful theory to actually using this theory and modifying it locally in order to obtain something that actually works. Let me give you a simple example: there is only one system model of the BJT transistor (and a couple more equivalent) but there are hundreds of various types of BJT transistors, very different from each other. These differences are not captured in the system theory level, but they are crucial for implementation.