DOI 10.1007/s1339801100462
SURVEY
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics
Manuel de Len
Received: 4 May 2011 / Accepted: 17 June 2011 / Published online: 16 July 2011
SpringerVerlag 2011
Abstract The aim of this paper is to present a short historical/scientic review on
nonholonomic mechanics, with special emphasis on the latest developments. Indeed, the
use of differential geometric tools has permitted in the last 25 years a fast and unsuspected
advance in the theory, particularly in a better understanding of symmetries and reduction,
HamiltonJacobi theory and integrability characterizations, and the construction of suitable
geometric integrators. The last part of the paper is devoted to discuss the latest results in
HamiltonJacobi theory for nonholonomic dynamics using our own approach.
Keywords Nonholonomic mechanics Symmetries and reduction
HamiltonJacobi theory Geometric integrators
Mathematics Subject Classication (2000) 37J60 70F25 70H20 70H33
1 Introduction
Nonholonomic mechanics, that is, mechanical systems governed by a lagrangian function
subject to kinematic constraints, is an old topic in mechanics that has attracted a lot of atten
tion due to its applications to engineering sciences [17, 22] (and also to microswimming in
Biology [76]).
Nonholonomic mechanics has experimented a dramatic change in the last 25 years, due
mainly to the introduction in its study of geometric techniques. Indeed, it was in the beginning
of the eighties when nonholonomic mechanics was fully incorporated into the realm of the
socalled Geometric Mechanics.
The rst objective of this paper is to give a brief historical overview on nonholonomic
mechanics, based in our personal experiences in the approach to the subject. So we start
M. de Len (B)
Instituto de Ciencias Matemticas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientcas,
c/ Nicols Cabrera, 1315, Madrid 28049, Spain
email: mdeleon@icmat.es
192 M. de Len
reviewing some historical developments due to Hertz, Poincar, and the Russian school
of mechanics, continuing with the seminal work by Koiller [75] (see also Vershik and
Faddeev [140], and Weber [93, 118, 148]) in the beginning of the 1980s which introduces
the modern language of differential geometry in the description of nonholonomic mechani
cal systems.
The content of this paper does not include new results but we reviewed some of the last
achievements; the term of historical review should be understood as an indication of our
purpose to include some historical references (indeed, linked to the own experience of the
author), but the paper is not a history of the matter. Therefore we discuss some relevant topics
in nonholonomic mechanics, like symmetries and reduction, the development of a convenient
HamiltonJacobi theory and new geometric integrators.
At the end, we discover that these results require a more sophisticatedtool, the socalledLie
algebroids (or even a more general notion, say skewsymmetric algebroid, where the Jacobi
identity is not required). Indeed, as it was remarked by Alan Weinstein [149], mechanics
should be developed in this new geometric setting. Let us recall that Lie algebroids are the
innitesimal objects associated to Lie groupoids (in the same sense that tangent bundles are
associated to manifolds or a Lie algebra is associated to a Lie group); the use of Lie groupoids
and algebroids is allowing new insights in the theory.
The paper is structured as follows. In Sect. 2 we recall the main notions in Lagrangian and
Hamiltonian mechanics as well as derive the nonholonomic equations of motion. Section 3
is devoted to give a brief historical review. In Sect. 4 we consider examples of nonholonomic
systems as well as nonholonomic toys; we also discuss recent results in different topics: non
holonomic eld theories, piecewise nonholonomic systems or higher order nonholonomic
constraints. Section 5 we introduce the new geometric setting to deal with nonholonomic
mechanics based in Lie groupoids and Lie algebroids. Finally, in Sect. 6 we shall give a rst
application of this newsetting to study HamiltonJacobi theory of nonholonomic mechanical
systems.
2 Lagrangian and hamiltonian mechanics. Nonholonomic mechanics
2.1 Lagrangian mechanics
A mechanical system is governed by a Lagrangian function L which is just the difference
between the kinetic energy T and the potential energy V of the system. Usually, there are
some relations among the coordinates, the socalled holonomic constraints, which are used
to introduce generalized coordinates (q
A
) in the conguration manifold Q, where A runs
from 1 to n = dim Q (n is the number of degrees of freedom).
Therefore, the Lagrangian function is L = L(q
A
, q
A
), where ( q
A
) are the generalized
velocities. The lagrangian is L = T V, where T(q
A
, q
A
) =
1
2
g
AB
(q) q
A
q
B
, g being a
Riemannian metric on Q, and V = V(q
A
) a function on Q.
The Hamiltons principle produces the EulerLagrange equations
d
dt
_
L
q
A
_
L
q
A
= 0, 1 A n. (1)
For simple mechanical systems, Eq. (1) are just the translation of the wellknown Newton
second law.
A geometric version of Eq. (1) can be obtained as follows (see [92]).
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 193
The lagrangian is a function L : T Q R, where here the tangent bundle T Q
represents the space of velocities. Consider the (1,1)tensor eld S and the Liouville vector
eld dened locally on the tangent bundle T Q of Q:
S =
q
A
dq
A
, = q
A
q
A
.
We construct the PoincarCartan 1 and 2forms
L
= S
(dL),
L
= d
L
,
where S
L
= dq
A
d p
A
, E
L
= q
A
p
A
L,
where p
A
=
L
q
A
denotes the generalized momenta.
We say that L is regular if the 2form
L
is symplectic, which in coordinates turns to be
equivalent to the regularity of the Hessian matrix of L with respect to the velocities
_
W
AB
=
2
L
q
A
q
B
_
In this case, the equation
i
X
L
= dE
L
(2)
has a unique solution, X =
L
, called the EulerLagrange vector eld;
L
is a second order
differential equation (SODE) that means that its integral curves are tangent lifts of their pro
jections on Q (these projections are called the solutions of
L
). The solutions of
L
are just
the solutions of Eq. (1).
If
L
: T T Q T
L
, then we have
L
(
L
) = dE
L
.
The Legendre transformation FL : T Q T
Q
FL =
Q
, where
Q
: T Q Q and
Q
: T
Q of Q. Denote by
Q
= dq
A
dp
A
the canonical symplectic form, where (q
A
, p
A
) are the canonical coordi
nates on T
f
p
A
g
q
A
The Poisson bracket has the following properties:
bilinear
skewsymmetric
Leibniz rule
{ f, gh} = { f, g}h + g{ f, h}
satises the Jacobi identity
{ f, {g, h}} +{g, {h, f }} +{h, { f, g}} = 0
Since FL
Q
=
L
, we deduce that
L
and X
H
are FLrelated, and consequently FL
transforms the EulerLagrange equations (1) into the Hamilton equations (3).
An important fact is that the Lie bracket of vector elds on Q is related with the canonical
symplectic structure on T
[X, Y] = {
X,
Y}
Notice also that the bracket on T
Q given by:
Q
(d f, dg) = { f, g}
Q
is an example of Poisson tensor or Poisson structure.
2.3 Nonholonomic systems
A nonholonomic mechanical system consists of
1. a lagrangian function L = L(q
A
, q
A
),
2. subject to nonholonomic constraints
i
(q
A
, q
A
) = 0.
These are kinematic constraints (constraints involving the velocities).
If
i
(q
A
, q
A
) =
i
A
(q) q
A
(respectively,
i
(q
A
, q
A
) =
i
A
(q) q
A
+ b
i
(q)) is linear
(respectively, afne) in the velocities the constraints are called linear (respectively, afne).
Otherwise, they are called nonlinear.
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 195
Invoking the D Alembert principle for linear and afne constraints (or the Chetaev
principle, for nonlinear constraints) we derive the nonholonomic equations of motion
d
dt
_
L
q
A
_
L
q
A
=
i
i
q
A
, 1 A n
i
(q
A
, q
A
) = 0
_
_
_
(4)
where
i
=
i
(q
A
, q
A
) are Lagrange multipliers to be determined.
2.4 A paradigmatic nonholonomic system: the rolling disk
To illustrate the general theory, let us consider a disk rolling without sliding on a horizontal
plane, which can be considered as a paradigmatic example of a nonholonomic mechanical
system.
Let (x, y) be the coordinates of the point of contact with the oor, the angle measured
from a chosen point of the rim to the point of contact (rotation angle), is the angle between
the tangent to the disk at the point of contact and the x axis (heading angle), and is the
angle of inclination of the disk.
The conguration manifold is then Q = R
2
S
1
S
1
S
1
.
The lagrangian is given by L = T V where
T =
1
2
m( x
2
+ y
2
+ R
2
2
+ R
2
2
sin
2
) mR(
2
cos
2
) +
1
2
I
2
(
+
sin )
2
and
V = mgR cos
Here, m is the mass of the disk, R is the radius, and I
1
and I
2
are the principal momenta of
inertia. The rolling without sliding condition means that the following constraints have to be
fulllled along the motion
1
= x (R cos )
= 0,
2
= y (R sin )
= 0.
The important fact is that all the congurations are available, but not all the velocities.
3 Some historical remarks
3.1 Nonholonomic mechanics before Hertz
Nonholonomic systems are, roughly speaking, mechanical systems with constraints on their
velocities that are not derivable from position constraints.
Nonholonomic systems arise, for instance, in mechanical systems that have rolling contact
(for example, the rolling of wheels without slipping) or certain kinds of sliding contact (such
as the sliding of skates). They are a remarkable generalization of classical Lagrangian and
Hamiltonian systems in which one allows position constraints only.
The oldest publication that addresses the dynamics of a rolling rigid body is Euler in
1734 [47], in which small oscillations of a rigid body moving without slipping on a horizon
tal plane were studied.
196 M. de Len
Later, the dynamics of a rigid body rolling on a surface was studied in Routh (1860) [119],
Slesser (1861) [128] Vierkandt (1892) [145], and Walker (1896) [147].
Historically, certain errors of the wellknown mathematicians Neumann and Lindelof [95]
were caused by an incorrect application of the Lagrange equations in the presence of non
integrable constraints in the description of the problem of a body rolling without sliding on
the horizontal plane.
The Lindelof mistake was detected by Chaplygin (see [33], vol. 1, pages 5175), and
attracted the attention of many scholars of that time, like Appell, Bobylev, Chaplygin,
Cenov, Hamel, Hertz, Maggi, Voronec, Zukovskii, It should be noticed that early work by
Ferrers, Korteweg, Neumann was ignored.
According to [19] the derivation of the equations of motion of a nonholonomic system
in the form of the EulerLagrange equations corrected by some additional terms to take
into account the constraints (but without Lagrange multipliers), was outlined by Ferrers in
1872 [51]. The formal derivation of this form of equations was performed by Voronetz in
1901 [146]. In the case in which some of the conguration variables are cyclic, such equations
(now called Chaplygin equations) were obtained by Chaplygin in 1895 (see [32, 33]).
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 197
In any case, the general understanding of inapplicability of Lagrange equations and
variational principles to the nonholonomic mechanics is due to Hertz, who expressed it
in his fundamental work [62] that deals mostly with his conception of hidden cyclic param
eters (coordinates, masses), as opposed to the conventional notion of interaction as a result
of force application. Furthermore, Hertz coined the term nonholonomic system in 1894.
Hertz wanted to construct the Foundations of Mechanics disposing entirely with the notion
of force, replacing it by equivalent velocity constraints. His basic principle, which yields pre
cisely the LagrangedAlembert equations, states that the geometric curvature of the path is
always a minimum, subjected to the constraints.
One of the rst discoveries by Hertz was that the usual integral variational principles
such as the principle of least action or Hamiltons principle do not hold for nonholonomic
systems. However, Otto Holder pointed out that if the variations in the variational principles
are chosen in the right way, the principles remained valid. Instead of assuming, as Hertz had
done, that the varied motion should satisfy the constraints, Holder assumed that the variations
satisfy the constraints. If the system is nonholonomic the varied motion will not satisfy the
constraints, Holders variational principle is not about an ordinary variational problem, but
it gives the correct trajectories.
It is interesting to remark the reaction by Poincar to Hertz developments. In his review of
Hertzs book, Poincar says [117] (we borrowthe next paragraphs fromBorisov and Mamaev
[21]):
Hertz terms a system holonomic when the following holds: if the systems constraints
do not allow a direct transition from one position to another innitely close position,
then they either do not allow indirect transitions between these positions. Only rigid
constraints exist in such systems. It is evident that our sphere is not a holonomic system.
So, it sometimes happens that the principle of least action cannot be applied to non
holonomic systems. Indeed, one can proceed from position A to position B taking the
path that we have just discussed, or, undoubtedly, one of many other paths.
Among these, there is, evidently, one path corresponding to the least action.
Hence, it should have been possible for the sphere to follow this path from A to B. But
this is not so: whatever the initial conditions of motion may be, the sphere will never
pass from A to B. In fact, if the sphere does pass from position A to position A?, it
198 M. de Len
does not always follow the path that corresponds to the least action. The principle of
least action holds no more.
Hertz says,In this case, a sphere obeying this principle would seem to be a living
creature, which deliberately pursues a certain goal, while a sphere following the laws
of Nature would look as an inanimate monotonously rolling mass But such con
straints do not exist in Nature. Socalled rol ling without sliding is actually rolling with
slight sliding. This phenomenon belongs to the class of irreversible phenomena, such
as friction; these phenomena are still poorly investigated, and we have not yet learned
to apply to them the true principles of Mechanics.
Our reply is,Rolling without sliding does not contradict either the law of energy con
servation, or any other law of physics known to us. This phenomenon can be realized
in the observable world within the accuracy that would allow its application to con
struction of the most accurate integration machines (planimeters, harmonic analyzers,
etc.). We have no right to exclude it from consideration as impossible. As for our prob
lems, they still remain regardless of whether such rolling is realized exactly or only
approximately. To accept the principle, it is necessary to require that its application to a
problemwith almost exact source data would yield the results, as close to the exactness
as the source data were. Besides, other (rigid) constraints can also be realized in Nature
only approximately. But nobody is going to exclude them from consideration
3.2 A milestone: Neimark and Fuffaevs book
An important milestone in the development of nonholonomic mechanics has been the book
by Neimark and Fufaev [112].
Let us recall some facts about this book. The idea of the book started in 1949/1950, around
the A.A. Andronovs seminar, and the work started in 1951 by Neimark. In the next year the
work was discontinuous because the interest of the authors in the subject decreased. Much
later, the authors were again attracted by the study of nonholonomic dynamics and the book
was nally written. The book is plenty of ideas, examples and applications.
Another important step was the paper by Vershik and Faddeev [140]. Indeed,
This paper containsin our opinionthe introduction of Modern Differential Geometry
in the study of nonholonomic systems.
It contains many ideas and techniques later rediscovered by other authors.
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 199
The reduction procedure for nonholonomic systems with symmetries has been discussed
by Jair Koiller [75], where the author revises the work by Chaplygin and extends his results
to the case of non Abelian groups. Indeed, Koiller considers mechanical systems whose
conguration space is the total space of a principal bundle, the constraints given by the
horizontal space of a principal connection.
Indeed, symmetries are very relevant in mechanics, and, in particuular in nonholonomic
systems, as the following quotation by Fomenko [53] shows:
One of the interesting ocurrences of symmetry in mechanics is the rolling of a solid
body without slipping along a two dimensional surface (possibly of a complex pro
le). The results of this process are studied by the mechanics of nonholonomic sys
tems Recently, deep and interesting connections of this subject with Lie groups were
discovered
Another important step (inspired in Koillers paper), again in the realm of the reduction
of nonholonomic systems with symmetry, is the paper by Bloch et al. [18]. A relevant issue
here is that the existence of a symmetry does not imply necessarily a conserved quantity.
Therefore we have to discuss the compatibility of the constraints with the symmetries, that
is, how the symmetries are placed with respect to the constraints. In the quoted paper, the
authors classify the constraints and introduce a nonholonomic momentum mapping.
Let us describe some alternative approaches:
A symplectic setting (also inspired in Koiller) is due to Bates, Snyaticki and collabora
tors [13] (see also [11, 12, 40]). The idea is to construct a symplectic subbundle on where
the constraints vanish and then the symplectic mechanism produces the dynamics.
Cantrijn, Sarlet and Saunders [124, 125] have described the dynamics in terms of jet
bundles (see also [57, 85, 108]).
Marle [98, 99] has developed a hamiltonian point of view (see also Dazord [42]).
Ehlers, Koiller, Montgomery and Rios [46] were inspired in the original treatment by
Cartan.
An approach using implicit differential equations can be found in Ibort et al. [67] (see
also Grcia and Martn [60]).
Our own approach was also inspired in Koiller, Bloch et al, and particularly in an almost
ignored paper by Cariena and Raada [27]. This approach has permitted:
a better understanding of the introduction of the nonholonomic bracket [24, 26, 68]
a method of reduction [25] which integrates those previously developed by Bloch et al.
[18] and Bates et al. [13]
the study of existence of invariant measures [23].
4 Geometric nonholonomic mechanics
4.1 Nonholonomic examples and devices
Some examples and devices have played an important role in the development of nonholo
nomic mechanics. We shall a list of some of them:
Classical examples. Any class of rolling body. A large variety of examples can be found
in Neimark and Fuffaev book [112]. It should be noticed that, related with these prob
200 M. de Len
lems, there is a relevant research connected with differential and algebraic geometry:
Agrachev [2], Fatima Leites and coworkers [63], Jurdjevic [71, 72],
Another important source of examples, coming fromthe study of rigid bodies, is the study
of nonholonomic systems on Lie groups: Veselov and Veselova [143, 144], Fedorov and
coworkers [48, 49],
In recent times, the socalled nonholonomic toys have deserved a lot of attention from
the scholars: the wowblestone, ratleback or celtic stone (see the papers by Bondi [20]
and Tokieda and Moffatt [109]; the skateboard (see Kuleshov [82], Kremnev and
Kuleshov [81]); the snakeboard (see Ferraro, Kobilarov, de Len, Martn de Diego and
Marrero [86, 74]).
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 201
4.2 Nonhonomic and vakonomic dynamics
One of the more interesting historical events in this issue was the paper of Korteweg [80].
Up to that point (and even persisting until recently) there was some confusion in the
literature between nonholonomic mechanical systems and variational nonholonomic systems
(also called vakonomic systems). The latter are appropriate for optimal control problems.
One of the purposes of Kortewegs paper was to straighten out this confusion, and in doing
so, he pointed out a number of errors in papers up to that point.
The difference between nonholonomic and vakonomic dynamics relies in the different
principle applied in both cases:
nonholonomic dynamics is derived using the d Alembert principle.
vakonomic dynamics is obtained using a variational principle looking for extremals curves
among those satisfying the constraints.
Given two points x, y Q we dene the manifold of twice piecewise differentiable curves
which connect x and y as
C
2
(x, y) = {c : [0, 1] Q  c is C
2
, c(0) = x, c(1) = y}
We know that
T
c
C
2
(x, y) = {X : [0, 1] T Q  X is C
1
, X(t ) T
c(t )
Q, X(0) = 0, X(1) = 0}
Assume that the lagrangian L : T Q R is subjected to constraints given by a subman
ifold M of T Q. Locally, M is dened by the equations
i
(q
A
, q
A
) = 0
Dene
C
2
(x, y) = { c C
2
(x, y) 
c(t ) M for all t [0, 1]}
Given a curve c
C
2
(x, y) we dene a vector subspace
V
c
= {X T
c
C
2
(x, y)  S
(d
i
)(
X) = 0, i,
for all vector elds
X T Q along
c which projects onto X}
202 M. de Len
Therefore, if X = X
A
q
A
, we deduce that X V
c
if and only if
X
A
i
q
A
= 0
Dene the functional
J : C
2
(x, y) R
c
1
_
0
L( c(t )) dt
We have
dJ(c)(X) =
1
_
0
_
L
q
A
d
dt
_
L
q
A
__
X
A
dt
for all X T
c
C
2
(x, y), c C
2
(x, y).
Therefore we have three different options:
Unconstrained systems. A curve c is a motion of the lagrangian system dened by L if
and only if c a critical point of J, that is,
dJ(c)(X) = 0
for all c C
2
(x, y); this is equivalent to satisfy the following equations of motion
L
q
A
d
dt
_
L
q
A
_
= 0
X T
c
C
2
(x, y).
Nonholonomic mechanics A curve c
C
2
(x, y) is a motion if and only if
dJ( c)(X) = 0
for all X V
c
; this is equivalent to the equations of motion
L
q
A
d
dt
_
L
q
A
_
=
i
i
q
A
plus the constraints.
Remark The derivation of the equations of motion for nonlinear constraints and even the
existence of such constraints have been deserved much attention fromthe researchers. We
refer here to [14, 41, 43, 67, 121] for detailed discussions, including the famous Atwood
machine (see also [78, 116]).
Vakonomic mechanics A curve c
C
2
(x, y) is a motion if and only if
dJ( c)(
X) = 0
for all c T
c
C
2
(x, y), or in other words, c is a critical point of J restricted to
C
2
(x, y).
This is equivalent to satisfy the following equations
L
q
A
d
dt
_
L
q
A
_
=
i
_
d
dt
_
i
q
A
_
i
q
A
_
+
d
i
dt
i
q
A
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 203
We can also prove that c is a motion if and only if the curve ( c(t ), (t )) is a motion of
the unconstrained lagrangian
L = L
i
i
.
The terminology vakonomic (mechanics of variational axiomatic kind) was coined by
Kozlov ([4]).
Vakonomic dynamics will not be discussed here in detail, but we refer to [4, 810, 59, 54
56, 106, 107] for more details. For the relation to SubRiemannian geometry we refer
to [110].
Comparison between both approaches have been discussed in [36, 59, 94], where our own
approach based in a convenient setting for both dynamics using an extension of the Skinner
and Rusk formalism (see [126, 127]). The method developed is sosticated but it gives a
universal and computational way to compare both dynamics.
4.3 A geometrical setting
If we realize that the bundle of 1forms S
((T M)
0
) is locally generated by the local 1forms
{S
(d
i
)}, we can rewrite Eq. (4) as follows
i
X
L
dE
L
S
((T M)
0
)
X T M.
_
(5)
We assume the admissibility condition:
dim(T M)
0
= dim S
((T M)
0
)
which is equivalent to say that the matrix
_
i
q
A
_
has maximal rank m.
(For linear constraints the above conditions means that the set of 1forms {
i
=
i
A
(q)dq
A
} is linearly independent and, indeed, a local cobasis of the distribution M).
We also assume the compatibility condition:
F
T M = {0}
where F is the distribution on T Q (along M) such that
F
0
= S
((T M)
0
)
and F
denotes the
L
complement of F.
Notice that F
= Z
i
where
L
(Z
i
) = S
(d
i
), therefore
L
(F
) = F
0
.
Consider a possible solution of the equation
i
X
L
dE
L
=
i
S
(d
i
);
then X =
L
+
i
Z
i
. If we impose the condition to the dynamics be tangent to the constraint
submanifold we obtain
0 = X(
j
) =
L
(
j
) +
i
Z
i
(
j
) (6)
Denote C
i j
= Z
i
(
j
). Notice that if the matrix (C
i j
) is regular (the compatibility condi
tion), then we can compute the Lagrange multipliers solving the linear equation (6) at each
204 M. de Len
point of M. In this case we can obtain the nonholonomic dynamics X
nh
which is the unique
solution of Eq. (5).
A simple calculation gives
C
i j
=
i
q
A
W
AB
j
q
B
where (W
AB
) is the inverse matrix of (W
AB
), and shows that if (W
AB
) is definite (positive
or negative) then (C
i j
) is inversible.
As a consequence, if the lagrangian function L is of mechanical type then the nonholo
nomic system is always admissible and compatible.
Remark We can consider more general nonholonomic systems without these regularity con
ditions, even with singular lagrangians (see [89]).
Assume that the nonholonomic systemis compatible and admissible, then we have a direct
sum decomposition
T
x
(T Q) = T
x
M F
x
for all x M. In terms of vector bundles we have a Whitney sum decomposition
T T Q
M
= T M F
such that
X
nh
= P(
L
).
Remark To be more precise, the result X
nh
= P(
L
) holds if the constraint are homogenous,
that is, is tangent to the constraint submanifold,
M
T M. This is the case for linear
constraints.
Assuming the regularity of the Lagrangian, we have that the Lagrangian and
Hamiltonian formulations are locally equivalent. If we suppose, in addition, that the Lagrang
ian L is hyperregular, then the Legendre transformation
FL : T Q T
Q, (q
A
, q
A
) (q
A
, p
A
= L/ q
A
)
is a global diffeomorphism. The constraint functions on T
Q become
i
=
i
FL
1
, i.e.
i
(q
A
, p
A
) =
i
_
q
A
,
H
p
A
_
,
where the Hamiltonian H : T
Q R is dened by H = E
L
FL
1
. Since locally
FL
1
(q
A
, p
A
) = (q
A
,
H
p
A
), then
H = p
A
q
A
L(q
A
, q
A
),
where q
A
is expressed in terms of q
A
and p
A
using FL
1
.
The equations of motion for the nonholonomic system on T
i
p
B
H
BA
_
_
(7)
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 205
together with the constraint equations
i
(q, p) = 0
where H
AB
are the components of the inverse of the matrix
(H
AB
) = (
2
H/p
A
p
B
)
It should be noticed that
_
i
p
B
H
BA
_
(q, p) =
_
i
q
A
FL
1
_
(q, p).
The symplectic 2form
L
is related, via the Legendre map, with the canonical symplec
tic form
Q
on T
Q. Let
M denote the image of the constraint submanifold M under the
Legendre transformation, and let
F be the distribution on T
Q along
M, whose annihilator
is given by
F
0
= FL
(S
((T
M)
0
)).
Observe that
F
0
is locally generated by the m independent 1forms
i
=
i
p
A
H
AB
dq
B
, 1 i m.
The nonholonomic Hamilton equations for the nonholonomic system can be then rewritten
in intrinsic form as
(i
X
Q
d H)

M
F
0
X

M
T
M
_
(8)
The compatibility condition is now written as
F
T
M = {0}, where denotes the
symplectic complement with respect to
Q
. Equivalently, the matrix
(
C
i j
) =
_
i
p
A
H
AB
j
p
B
_
(9)
is regular. On the Lagrangian side, the compatibility condition is locally written as
det(
C
i j
) = det
_
i
q
A
W
AB
j
q
B
_
= 0 , (10)
where W
AB
are the entries of the Hessian matrix
_
2
L
q
A
q
B
_
1A,Bn
.
The compatibility condition is not too restrictive, since it is trivially veried by the usual
systems of mechanical type (lagrangian =kinetic energypotential energy), where the H
AB
represent the components of a positive definite Riemannian metric. The compatibility con
dition guarantees the existence of a unique solution of the constrained equations of motion
(8) which, henceforth, will be denoted by
X
nh
on the Hamiltonian side and X
nh
on the
Lagrangian side. Moreover, if X
H
is the Hamiltonian vector eld of H (i
X
H
Q
= d H) then
i
=
C
i j
X
H
(
j
). (11)
206 M. de Len
4.4 Reduction
The question of reducing ordinary or partial differential equations which are invariant under
the action of a Lie group has attracted considerable attention in recent years. To reduce means
to obtain equations with fewer coordinates or, when possible, to obtain a globally dened
differential operator on a quotient manifold.
Let us consider a nonholonomic lagrangian system with symmetry, that is, we have a
regular lagrangian function L : T Q R, a constraint submanifold M of T Q and a Lie
group G acting on Q such that L and M are Ginvariant with respect to the lifted action
on T Q.
For any element g we denote by
Q
and
T Q
the induced vector elds on Q and T Q,
respectively. Notice that
T Q
is tangent to M since the Ginvariance.
We also assume that the different actions of G are free and proper, so that we have well
dened quotient manifolds:
Q
Q = Q/G
T Q
T Q = T Q/G
M
M = M/G
The energy E
L
also projects to a function
E
L
on
T Q.
In the sequel we denote by V the subbundle of T T Q whose bers are the tangent spaces
to the Gorbits:
V
x
= T
x
(Gx)
for all x M.
Notice that
V
x
T
x
M
due to the Ginvariance of M.
In the case of unconstrained systems that admits a Lie group of symmetries, Noethers
theorem states that the invariance of the lagrangian implies a momentum conservation law.
Indeed, let
J : T Q g
The function J
is dened by
J
(x) = J(x),
Let
L
be the solution of the equation
i
L
L
= dE
L
Therefore, we have
L
(J
) = d J
(
L
) = (i
T Q
L
)(
L
) = (i
L
L
)(
T Q
) =
T Q
(E
L
)
In consequence, the invariance of L implies the invariance of E
L
so that J
is a conserved
quantity.
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 207
But in the case of nonholonomic mechanics, we will have
X(J
) = (i
X
L
)(
M
) =
M
(E
L
) +(
M
)
where F
o
.
Therefore, the Ginvariance only implies
X(J
) = (
M
)
If
M
V F, then J
on T(Q/G)
subject to an external force of gyroscopic type.
4.5 Geometric integration for nonholonomic mechanical systems
The development of the socalled geometric integrators has been a milestone in the history
of numerical approaches to mechanics (we refer to [61, 102, 103, 123] for more thorough
expositions; see also [101, 105]).
Let us say that given a hamiltonian system on a symplectic manifold (P, ) and
hamiltonian energy H, an algorithm(say, a collection of maps F
h
: P P, h a parameter)
is said to be:
a symplectic integrator if each F
h
: P P is a symplectic map (that is, it leaves
invariant).
an energy integrator if H F
h
= H.
a momentum integrator if J F
h
= J where J : P g
), the elds (y
A
), and its derivatives with respect to the spacetime
coordinates, that is, L = L(x
, y
A
, z
A
).
In several papers we have considered classical eld theories subjected to nonholonomic
constraints, that is, our system is given by:
A lagrangian
L = L(x
, y
A
, z
A
)
subject to constraints of the form
i
(x
, y
A
, z
A
) = 0
210 M. de Len
A rst result (Marsden et al. [104]), where the authors have considered incompressible
uids. But in this case, the constraints are not truly nonholonomic (by integration on the
space coordinates, the constraints disappear).
In [16, 139] we have studied this kind of systems, obtaining the nonholonomic eld
equations using geometric tools. The weakness of the theory is the lack of examples,
which should be a priority in the future research (some recent work has been developed
by Vankerschaver [135138]).
4.9 Unilateral constraints
A interesting case is when the mechanical system is subjected to timedependent twosided
nonholonomic as well as onesided (impulsive) constraints. One simple example to illustrate
this kind of systems is a sphere rolling without sliding on a horizontal plane and hitting a
rough wall.
A regular Lagrangian system is considered, with conguration space Q. The system is
subjected to nonholonomic constraints which are modelled by a submanifold with boundary
of the tangent bundle T Q, where the boundary induces a onesided nonholonomic con
straint. In addition, at points of the boundary, some impulsive reaction forces are assumed to
act. Along the constraint submanifold, a codistribution is dened, called the Chetaev bun
dle. This bundle, which in general will not be of constant rank, represents the reaction forces
induced by the constraints and the impulsive forces. It is shown that when two additional
conditions (an admissibility and a compatibility condition) are satised, the system admits a
well dened dynamics. The latter is recovered fromthe description of the constrained system
in terms of a submanifold of a bred product bundle over TQ. From the equations dening
this submanifold one can then derive the equations of motion as well as the expressions for
the instantaneous jumps in the momenta due to the impulsive reaction forces. In the case of
permanent constraints, suitable projectors are constructed which, among others, allow one
to evaluate these jumps in the momenta. This, in particular, leads to a geometric formulation
of Carnots theorem, which establishes a relationship between the momenta before and after
the action of the impulsive forces.
For more details we refer to [38, 6466, 83] (see also [122, 150]).
5 A new setting for nonholonomic mechanics
5.1 Weinstein s program
In 1992 Alan Weinstein [149] proposed an ambitious program to develop mechanics on a
more general setting, Lie algebroids. Let us recall the notion of a Lie algebroid:
Denition 1 A Lie algebroid structure in the vector bundle
D
: D Q is a Rlinear
bracket B
D
: (
D
) (
D
) (
D
) and a morphism of vector bundles
D
: D T Q,
the anchor map, such that
1. B
D
is skewsymmetric,
B
D
(, ) = B
D
( , ), for , (
D
);
2. B
D
satises the Jacobi identity
B
D
(B
D
(
1
,
2
),
3
) + B
D
(B
D
(
2
,
3
),
1
) + B
D
(B
D
(
3
,
1
),
2
) = 0;
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 211
3. If we denote
D
: (
D
) X(Q) the morphism of C
(Q).
The reasons behind this project were that Lie algebroids are natural extensions of tangent
bundles and Lie algebras, which are the natural arena to develop mechanics. Indeed, for a
tangent bundle the Lie algebroid structure is given by the usual Lie bracket of vector elds
with the identity as the anchor, and for a Lie algebra, the bracket is just the own of the algebra,
being the anchor the zero mapping (the Lie algebra is considered as a trivial vector bundle
over its zero vector). In addition, if L : T Q R is a lagrangian function and G is a Lie
group of symmetries, then T Q/G Q is a Lie algebroid (the socalled Atiyah algebroid)
and L reduces to a lagrangian l : T Q/G R, which is a true lagrangian in this new
universal language.
In the rest of this paper we will develop a more general setting using the socalled skew
symmetric algebroids (see [5, 86], where the condition of integrability is not necessary. This
new setting allows to obtain unsuspected results for a HamiltonJacobi theory in nonholo
nomic systems.
5.2 Nonholonomic integrators and Lie groupoids
Another interesting research line is the construction of numerical algorithms that produce
sufciently accurate, affordable, and robust numerical approximations of the nonholonomic
dynamics. Indeed, the construction of geometric integrators for nonholonomic dynamics is
very recent as an open problem [96]:
The problemfor the more general class of nonholonomic constraints is still open, as
is the question of the correct analogue of symplectic integration for nonholonomically
constrained Lagrangian systems
The main guiding idea for geometrically simulate nonholonomic systems comes from
Hlders variational principle which is not a standard variational principle [4], but admits an
adequate discretization. This is, roughly speaking, the procedure introduced by Corts and
Martnez [39] and followed by other authors [48, 52, 96] extending, moreover, the results to
nonholonomic systems dened on Lie groups (see also [91] for a different approach using
generating functions). From the geometric perspective it is possible to see all these situations
as particular cases of nonholonomic systems on Lie groupoids [70, 100]. This idea follows the
program proposed by Weinstein [149] for the study of discrete mechanics on Lie groupoids.
Remember that a Lie groupoid over a differentiable manifold Q is a differentiable manifold
G together with the following structural maps:
two submersions, the source map : G Q and target map : G Q. The maps
and dene the set of composable pairs
G
2
= {(g, h) G G  (g) = (h)};
a multiplication map m: G
2
G, (g, h) gh.
an identity section : Q G of and , such that for all g G, ((g))g = g =
g((g));
an inversion map i : G G, g g
1
, such that for all g G, gg
1
= ((g)),
g
1
g = ((g)).
212 M. de Len
From this structure maps it is possible to dene the lefttranslation by g G and the right
translation by g as the diffeomorphisms
l
g
:
1
((g))
1
((g)); h l
g
(h) = gh,
r
g
:
1
((g))
1
((g)); h r
g
(h) = hg.
Take the vector bundle : AG Q, whose ber at a point x Q is A
x
G = V
(x)
=
Ker(T
(x)
). Indeed AG is equipped with an structure of Lie algebroid. For any section
X Sec (AG) it is possible to construct the corresponding leftinvariant (resp., rightinvari
ant) vector eld on G, that will be denoted by
X (resp.,
X
a
(g
k
)(L
d
)
X
a
(g
k+1
)(L
d
) = 0 (12)
where (g
k
, g
k+1
) G
2
(M
c
M
c
) (with (g) = (h) = x) and where {X
a
} is a local
basis of Sec
D
c
on an open subset U of Q such that x U.
Equation (12) admits different applications and interpretations depending on the differ
ent groupoid we consider. In the case, G = Q Q we obtain the same equations than
in reference [39]. When G is a Lie group, we obtain from Equation (12) the socalled
discrete EulerPoincarSuslov equations (see [48]). Also we may work with Atiyah bundles
G = (Q Q)/G obtaining discretization of nonholonomic reduced systems, including dis
crete Chaplygin systems, etc.
5.3 Generalized hamiltonian systems
The use of Lie algebroids or even more general concepts leads us to develop a new and very
general setting for hamiltonian mechanics [37, 58, 84].
The idea is to extract the main geometric ingredients in ordinary hamiltonian mechanics,
that is, that developed on cotangent bundles.
Let us recall these main ingredients:
The phase space is the cotangent bundle T
Q
on T
Q;
The hamiltonian function dened on T
Q.
If we extrapolate these items we can consider a more general setting:
D
: D M a vector bundle, and
D
: D
R a hamiltonian function.
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 213
Here linear means that the bracket of two linear functions is a linear function.
Proposition 1 Since
D
is linear, we deduce that
(a)
1
,
2
(
D
) {
1
,
2
}
D
is a linear function on D
,
(b) (
D
), f C
(M) {
, f
D
}
D
is a basic function (that is, a function does
not depend on the bres) with respect to
D
,
(c) f, g C
(M) { f
D
, g
D
}
D
= 0
The linear bivector
D
induces the following structure on D:
an almost Lie bracket on the space (
D
) of sections of D
[ , ]
D
: (
D
) (
D
) (
D
)
(
1
,
2
) [
1
,
2
]
D
where
[
1
,
2
]
D
= {
1
,
2
}
D
.
an anchor map
D
: (
D
) X(M)
f C
(M), (D)
D
()( f )
D
= {
, f
D
}
D
) (
k+1
D
) as follows:
Given (
k
D
) then d
D
(
k+1
D
) and
d
D
(
0
,
1
, . . . ,
k
) =
k
i =0
(1)
i
D
(
i
)((
0
, . . . ,
i
, . . . ,
k
))
+
i <j
([
i
,
j
]
D
,
0
, . . . ,
i
, . . . ,
j
, . . . ,
k
)
where
0
,
1
, . . . ,
k
(
D
)
From the definition, we deduce that
(1) (d
D
f )() =
D
()( f ), f C
(M), (
D
)
(2) d
D
(
1
,
2
) =
D
(
1
)((
2
))
D
(
2
)((
1
)) [
1
,
2
]
D
,
(
D
),
1
,
2
(
D
)
(3) d
D
(
) = d
D
+(1)
k
d
D
, (
k
D
),
(
k
)
In general (d
D
)
2
= 0 .
It is a simple exercise to go back and then prove that the following items are equivalent:
A linear bivector
D
on D
;
An almost Lie algebroid structure ([ , ]
D
,
D
) on D;
An almost differential d
D
: (
k
D
) (
k+1
D
R is just the
vector eld X
h
=
D
(dh) on D
.
Given local coordinates (x
, y
) on D
D
=
+
1
2
C
(dh)
or, in coordinates,
X
h
=
h
y
h
x
+C
h
y
_
y
},
adapted to the nonholonomic problem (L, D), in the sense that
(i) {e
, e
) =
)
(ii) {e
} = {e
a
, e
A
} where D = span{e
a
}, D
= span{e
A
}.
Denoting by (x
, y
) = (x
, y
a
, y
A
) the induced coordinates on E, the constraint equa
tions determining D just read y
A
= 0. Therefore we can choose (x
, y
a
) as a set of coordi
nates on D.
In these coordinates we have the inclusion
i
D
: D E
(x
, y
a
) (x
, y
a
, 0)
and the dual map
i
D
: E
(x
, y
a
, y
A
) (x
, y
a
)
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 215
where (x
, y
}.
Moreover, from the orthogonal decomposition we have that
P : E D
(x
, y
a
, y
) (x
, y
a
)
and its dual map
P
: D
(x
, y
a
) (x
, y
a
, 0)
In these coordinates, the nonholonomic system is given by
(i) The Lagrangian L(x
, y
) =
1
2
(y
)
2
V(x
),
(ii) The nonholonomic constraints y
A
= 0.
In this case, the Legendre transformation associated with L is the isomorphism FL :
E E
(x
, y
) (x
, y
= y
)
and we can dene the nonholonomic Legendre transformation FL
nh
= i
D
FL i
D
:
D D
FL
nh
: D D
(x
, y
a
) (x
, y
a
= y
a
)
Notice that (E, [ , ], ) is a Lie algebroid and
E
is then a linear Poisson structure
on E
.
If f
1
and f
2
are functions on M, and
1
and
2
are sections of E, then:
{ f
1
E
, g
1
E
}
E
= 0, {
1
, f
1
E
, }
E
= ((
1
)) f
1
E
, {
1
,
2
}
E
=
[
1
,
2
]
In the induced coordinates (x
, y
are
{x
, x
}
E
= 0, {y
, x
, }
E
=
, {y
, y
}
E
= C
In other words
E
=
+
1
2
C
, { , }
nh,D
, is dened by
{F, G}
nh,D
= {F i
D
, G i
D
}
E
P
for all F, G C
(D
)
The induced bivector
nh,D
is
nh,D
=
a
y
a
x
+
1
2
C
c
ab
y
c
y
a
y
b
That is,
{x
, x
}
nh,D
= 0, {y
a
, x
}
nh,D
=
a
, {y
a
, y
b
}
nh,D
= C
c
ab
y
c
nh,D
is a linear bivector on D
= T
= g
is the LiePoisson
structure. Thus, if D = h is a vector subspace of g, we obtain that the nonholonomic
bracket (nonholonomic LiePoisson bracket) is given by
{F, G}
nh,D
() =
_
, P
_
F
,
G
__
for h
, and F, G C
(h
). In adapted coordinates
{y
a
, y
b
}
nh,D
= C
c
ab
y
c
3. The Atiyah algebroid associated with a principal Gbundle : Q Q/G
E = T Q/G
The linear Poisson structure on E
= T
Q T
/G
, which is the non
holonomic HamiltonPoincar bracket on D
/G.
6 A rst application: the HamiltonJacobi theory for nonholonomic mechanical
systems
Let us rst recall the standard formulation of the HamiltonJacobi problem (see [1, 3]).
The issue is to nd a function S(t, q
A
) (called the principal function) such that
S
t
+h
_
q
A
,
S
q
A
_
= 0. (13)
If we put S(t, q
A
) = W(q
A
) t E, where E is a constant, then W satises
h
_
q
A
,
W
q
A
_
= E; (14)
W is called the characteristic function.
Equations (13) and (14) are indistinctly referred as the HamiltonJacobi equation.
In modern symplectic language, M is the conguration manifold, and T
M its cotangent
bundle equipped with the canonical symplectic form
M
= dq
A
dp
A
where (q
A
) are coordinates in M and (q
A
, p
A
) are the induced ones in T
M.
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 217
Let h : T
h
= T
M
X
h
T
X
h
//
T(T
M)
T
M
==
X
h
//
T M
The following conditions are equivalent:
(i) If : I M satises the equation
dq
A
dt
=
h
p
A
then is a solution of the Hamilton equations;
(i)
If : I M is an integral curve of X
h
, then is an integral curve of X
h
;
(i)
X
h
and X
h
are related, i.e.
T(X
h
) = X
h
Them we can reformulate the above theorem as follows:
Theorem 2 (HamiltonJacobi Theorem) Let be a closed 1form on M. Then the following
conditions are equivalent:
(i) X
h
and X
h
are related;
(ii) d(h ) = 0
218 M. de Len
If
=
A
(q) dq
A
then the HamiltonJacobi equation becomes
h(q
A
,
A
(q
B
)) = const.
and we recover the classical formulation when
A
=
W
q
A
The advantage of this method is that, in spite of the difculties to solve a partial dif
ferential equation instead of an ordinary differential one, in many cases it works, being an
extremely useful tool, usually more than Hamiltons equations. Indeed, in these cases the
method provides an immediate way to integrate the equations of motion.
The modern interpretation relating the HamiltonJacobi procedure with the theory of
Lagrangian submanifolds is an important source of new results and insights [1, 3]. Let us
remark that, recently, Cariena et al. [28] have developed a new approach to the geometric
HamiltonJacobi theory.
A relevant difference with the unconstrained mechanical systems is that a nonholonomic
system is not Hamiltonian in the sense that the phase space is just the constraint submani
fold and not the cotangent bundle of the conguration manifold; moreover, its dynamics is
given by an almost Poisson bracket, that is, a bracket not satisfying the Jacobi identity. In
[87, 88], the authors proved that the nonholonomic dynamics can be obtained by projecting
the unconstrained dynamics; this was the point of view adopted in [69] in order to develop a
HamiltonJacobi theory for nonholonomic systems.
Anatural question related with a possible notion of integrability is in what extent one could
construct a HamiltonJacobi theory for nonholonomic mechanics. Past attempts to obtain a
HamiltonJacobi theory for nonholonomic systems were noneffective or very restrictive
(see [44, 130133] and also [115]), because, in many of them, they try to adapt the typical
proof of the HamiltonJacobi equations for systems without constraints (using Hamiltons
principle). Usually, the results are valid when the solutions of the nonholonomic problem are
also the solutions of the corresponding constrained variational problem (see [79, 121, 129]
for a complete discussion).
We will present here an approach to this theory using a new setting in skewsymmetric
algebroids [86] (see also [113]).
Let
D
be a linear bivector on D and : M D
be a section of
D
: D
M.
We dene X
h
= T
D
X
h
It is easy to show that X
h
(x)
D
(D
x
), x M
Indeed, look the local expressions
X
h
=
h
y
=
_
h
y
_
Theorem 3 (HamiltonJacobi Theorem)
Assume that d
D
= 0. Then the two following conditions are equivalent:
(i) : I M integral curve of X
h
integral curve of X
h
(ii) d
D
(h ) = 0
A historical review on nonholomic mechanics 219
Take local coordinates (x
},
and induced coordinates (x
, y
) on D
. Then if
: (x
) (x
(x
)) (x, (x))
we have
d
D
(h ) = 0
is locally written as
0 = d
D
(h )(e
)
x
=
D
(x)(e
(x))(h )
=
(x)
(h )
x
=
(x)
_
h
x
(x, (x)) +
h
y
(x, (x))
(x)
_
,
Therefore, we obtain the HamiltonJacobi Equations:
(x)
_
h
x
(x, (x)) +
h
y
(x, (x))
(x)
_
= 0
Acknowledgments We acknowledge the partial nancial support of Ministerio de Innovacin y Ciencia,
Project MTM200762478 and project Ingenio Mathematica(iMATH) No. CSD200600032 (Consolider
Ingenio 2010).
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