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Analytical Dynamics: Lagrange’s Equation and its Application – A Brief Introduction

Analytical Dynamics: Lagrange’s Equation and its Application – A Brief Introduction

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This document is a brief introduction to the calculus of variations and its application in the field of analytical dynamics. The Euler-Lagrange equation and the extended Lagrange equation are derived, and examples of application given. The concept of constrained minimization via the method of Lagrange Multipliers is also presented.
This document is a brief introduction to the calculus of variations and its application in the field of analytical dynamics. The Euler-Lagrange equation and the extended Lagrange equation are derived, and examples of application given. The concept of constrained minimization via the method of Lagrange Multipliers is also presented.

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05/11/2014

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Analytical Dynamics: Lagrange’s Equation and itsApplication – A Brief Introduction
D. S. Stutts, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Mechanical EngineeringMissouri University of Science and TechnologyRolla, MO 65409-0050January 24, 2011
Corrected typo in Equation (6) – thanks, Shantanu!
1

Dr. Daniel S. Stutts, 1995 – 2011All Rights Res.
1 THE CALCULUS OF VARIATIONS
1 The Calculus of Variations
The calculus of variations is an extensive subject, and there are many ﬁne references which present adetailed development of the subject –
see Bibliography
. The purpose of this addendum is do provide abrief background in the theory behind Lagrange’s Equations. Fortunately, complete understanding of thistheory is not
absolutely necessary
to use Lagrange’s equations, but a
basic
understanding of variationalprinciples can greatly increase your mechanical modeling skills.
1.1 Extremum of an Integral – The Euler-Lagrange Equation
Given the Integral of a functional (a function of functions) of the form
(
) =

t
2
t
1
(
U,
˙
U,t
)
dt,
(1)where t
1
, and t
2
are arbitrary,
is a small positive, real constant, and U and˙
are given by
(
t
) =
u
(
t
) +
η
(
t
)
,
and˙
(
t
) = ˙
u
(
t
) +
˙
η
(
t
)
.
(2)The functions
, and
u
may be thought of as describing the possible positions of a dynamical systembetween the two instants in time, t
1
, and t
2
, where
u
(
t
) represents the position when the integral de-scribed by Equation (1) is stationary, i.e. where it is an extremum, and
(
t
) is
u
(
t
) plus a
variation
η
(
t
).The function
(
t
) does not by deﬁnition render (1) stationary because we shall assume
η
(
t
) is
indepen-dent
of
u
(
t
), and we will assume that a
unique
function renders (1) an extremum. The reasons for theseassumptions will become clear below. The important point so far is that have not made any restrictivestatements about
(
) other than it is an integral of a functional of the functions
(
t
) and˙
(
t
). We willnow specify that the functions
u
(
t
), and
η
(
t
) are of class C
2
. That is, they possess continuous secondderivatives with respect to
t
. Further, let us stipulate that
η
(
t
) must vanish at
t
=
t
1
, and
t
=
t
2
. Inother words,
u
(
t
) and
(
t
) coincide at the end points of the interval [ t
1
, t
2
], where t
1
, and t
2
are
arbitrary
.Now that we have the stage more or less set up, lets see what rules the functional
(
U,
˙
U,t
) mustobey to render (1) extreme. We have, by deﬁnition, that the function
u
(
t
) renders
stationary, hence,we know this occurs when
(
t
) =
u
(
t
), or
= 0. this situation is depicted in Figure1.Figure 1. Relationship between extremizing function
u
(
t
), and variation
η
(
t
).Thus, assuming that t
1
, and t
2
are not functions of
, we set the ﬁrst derivative of
(
) equal to zero.
dI
(
)
d
=0
=

t
2
t
1
dF d
(
U,
˙
U,t
)
dt
= 0
.
(3)2

Dr. Daniel S. Stutts, 1995 – 2011All Rights Res.
1 THE CALCULUS OF VARIATIONS
However,
dF d
(
U,
˙
U,t
) =
∂F ∂U ∂U ∂
+
∂F ∂
˙
∂
˙
∂,
(4)so substituting Equation (4) into Equation (3), and setting
= 0, we have
dI
(
)
d
=0
=

t
2
t
1
∂F ∂uη
+
∂F ∂
˙
u
˙
η
dt
= 0
.
(5)Integration of Equation (5) by parts yields:
dI
(
)
d
=0
=

t
2
t
1
η
(
t
)
∂F ∂u
ddt∂F ∂
˙
u
dt
+
∂F ∂
˙
uη
(
t
)
t
2
t
1
= 0
.
(6)The last term in Equation (6) vanishes because of the stipulation
η
(
t
1
) =
η
(
t
2
) = 0, which leaves
dI
(
)
d
=0
=

t
2
t
1
η
(
t
)
∂F ∂u
ddt∂F ∂
˙
u
dt
= 0
.
(7)By the fundamental theorem of the calculus of variations [1], since
η
(
t
) is arbitrary except at the endpoints t
1
, and t
2
, we must have, in general
dI
(
)
d
=0
=
∂F ∂u
ddt∂F ∂
˙
u
= 0
.
(8)Equation (8) is known as the Euler-Lagrange equation. It speciﬁes the conditions on the functional
toextremize the integral
(
) given by Equation (1). By extremize, we mean that
(
) may be (1) maxi-mum, (2) minimum, or (3) an inﬂection point – i.e. neither maximum, nor minimum. In fact, there is noguarantee of the existence of a
global
extremum; the integral may be only locally extreme for
small
valuesof
. The determination of the nature of the stationary condition of
(
) for the general case is beyondthe scope of this document. Let it suﬃce to say that for
every
case considered in this class,
(
) will be
globally minimum
when
= 0.Equation (5) is often written
δI
=
dI
(
)
d
=0
=

t
2
t
1
∂F ∂uη
+
∂F ∂
˙
u
˙
η
dt
=

t
2
t
1
∂F ∂uδu
+
∂F ∂
˙
uδ
˙
u
dt
= 0
,
(9)where
δu
=
η
is the
variation
of
u
, and [2],
ddtδu
=
ddt
(
η
) =
˙
η
=
δdudt
=
δ
˙
u.
(10)Using Equation (10), and integrating Equation (9) by parts, we obtain
δI
=

t
2
t
1
∂F ∂u
ddt∂F ∂
˙
u
δudt,
(11)with the stipulation, as before, that
δu
(
t
1
) =
δu
(
t
2
) = 0.3