Hamilton's equations of motion
Safko, John L. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.
Stehle, Philip Department of Physics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- Phase space
- Additional Readings
A set of first-order ordinary differential equations that may be used to describe the motion of a mechanical system. Because of their remarkably symmetrical form [which appears in Eqs. (4), below], they are often referred to as the canonical equation of motion (where “canonical” is used in the sense of designating a simple general set of standard equations). The Lagrangian formulation of a system of f degrees of freedom generates f differential equations of second order in the time derivatives of the variables. Hamilton's equations, which are equivalent to Lagrange's equations, consist of 2f first-order and highly symmetrical equations. These properties make Hamilton's equations very useful for general discussions of the motion of systems. See also: Degree of freedom (mechanics); Differential equation; Lagrange's equations
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