You are on page 1of 21

# MomentofinertiaWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

beambending,seesecondmomentofarea.
TightropewalkerSamuelDixonusingthelongrod'smomentofinertiaforbalancewhilecrossingthe
NiagaraRiverin1890.

Flywheelshavelargemomentsofinertiatosmoothoutmechanicalmotion.ThisexampleisinaRussianmuseum.

Themomentofinertia,otherwiseknownastheangularmassorrotationalinertia,ofarigidbody
onthebody'smassdistributionandtheaxischosen,withlargermomentsrequiringmoretorqueto
thesameaxis).Oneofitsdefinitionsisthesecondmomentofmasswithrespecttodistancefroman
axisr,

,integratingovertheentiremass

.
axisperpendiculartotheplane.Forbodiesfreetorotateinthreedimensions,theirmomentscanbe
describedbyasymmetric33matrixeachbodyhasasetofmutuallyperpendicularprincipalaxes
forwhichthismatrixisdiagonalandtorquesaroundtheaxesactindependentlyofeachother.

Introduction
Whenabodyisrotating,orfreetorotate,aroundanaxis,atorquemustbeappliedtochangeits

angularmomentum.Theamountoftorqueneededforanygivenrateofchangeinangular
momentumisproportionaltothemomentofinertiaofthebody.Momentofinertiamaybeexpressed
intermsofkilogramsquaremetres(kgm2)inSIunitsandpoundsquarefeet(lbmft2)inimperialor
USunits.
MomentofinertiaplaystheroleinrotationalkineticsthatMass(inertia)playsinlinearkineticsboth
howmassisdistributedaroundanaxisofrotation,andwillvarydependingonthechosenaxis.Fora
axis,andmisthemass.Foranextendedbody,themomentofinertiaisjustthesumofallthesmall
piecesofmassmultipliedbythesquareoftheirdistancesfromtheaxisinquestion.Foranextended
bodyofaregularshapeanduniformdensity,thissummationsometimesproducesasimple
expressionthatdependsonthedimensions,shapeandtotalmassoftheobject.
In1673ChristiaanHuygensintroducedthisparameterinhisstudyoftheoscillationofabody
hangingfromapivot,knownasacompoundpendulum.[1]Thetermmomentofinertiawasintroduced
byLeonhardEulerinhisbookTheoriamotuscorporumsolidorumseurigidorumin1765,[1][2]anditis
incorporatedintoEuler'ssecondlaw.
Thenaturalfrequencyofoscillationofacompoundpendulumisobtainedfromtheratioofthetorque
imposedbygravityonthemassofthependulumtotheresistancetoaccelerationdefinedbythe
momentofinertia.Comparisonofthisnaturalfrequencytothatofasimplependulumconsistingofa
singlepointofmassprovidesamathematicalformulationformomentofinertiaofanextendedbody.
[3][4]

Momentofinertiaalsoappearsinmomentum,kineticenergy,andinNewton'slawsofmotionfora
rigidbodyasaphysicalparameterthatcombinesitsshapeandmass.Thereisaninteresting
differenceinthewaymomentofinertiaappearsinplanarandspatialmovement.Planarmovement
hasasinglescalarthatdefinesthemomentofinertia,whileforspatialmovementthesame
calculationsyielda33matrixofmomentsofinertia,calledtheinertiamatrixorinertiatensor.[5][6]
Themomentofinertiaofarotatingflywheelisusedinamachinetoresistvariationsinappliedtorque
andverticalaxesdetermineshowsteeringforcesonthecontrolsurfacesofitswings,elevatorsand
tailaffecttheplaneinroll,pitchandyaw.
MomentofinertiaIisdefinedastheratiooftheangularmomentumLofasystemtoitsangular
velocityaroundaprincipalaxis,thatis[7][9]

Iftheangularmomentumofasystemisconstant,thenasthemomentofinertiagetssmaller,the
angularvelocitymustincrease.Thisoccurswhenspinningfigureskaterspullintheiroutstretched

Iftheshapeofthebodydoesnotchange,thenitsmomentofinertiaappearsinNewton'slawof
motionastheratioofanappliedtorqueonabodytotheangularaccelerationaroundaprincipal
axis,thatis

Forasimplependulum,thisdefinitionyieldsaformulaforthemomentofinertiaIintermsofthe
massmofthependulumanditsdistancerfromthepivotpointas,

definedbythedistancertotheaxisofrotation.
Thissimpleformulageneralizestodefinemomentofinertiaforanarbitrarilyshapedbodyasthesum
ofalltheelementalpointmassesdmeachmultipliedbythesquareofitsperpendiculardistancerto
anaxisS.
centerofmass,withsuchavaluethatitsmomentofinertiais

Simplependulum
Momentofinertiacanbemeasuredusingasimplependulum,becauseitistheresistancetothe
rotationcausedbygravity.Mathematically,themomentofinertiaofthependulumistheratioofthe
Forasimplependulumthisisfoundtobetheproductofthemassoftheparticlemwiththesquareof
itsdistancertothepivot,thatis

Thiscanbeshownasfollows:Theforceofgravityonthemassofasimplependulumgeneratesa
torque

aroundtheaxisperpendiculartotheplaneofthependulummovement.Hereristhedistancevector
perpendiculartoandfromtheforcetothetorqueaxis.HereFisthetangentialcomponentofthenet
forceonthemass.Associatedwiththistorqueisanangularacceleration,

,ofthestringandmassaroundthisaxis.Sincethemassisconstrainedtoacirclethetangential
accelerationofthemassis

.Since

thetorqueequationbecomes:

whereeisaunitvectorperpendiculartotheplaneofthependulum.(Thesecondtothelaststep
occursbecauseoftheBACCABruleusingthefactthat

isalwaysperpendiculartor.)ThequantityI=mr2isthemomentofinertiaofthissinglemassaround
thepivotpoint.
ThequantityI=mr2alsoappearsintheangularmomentumofasimplependulum,whichis
calculatedfromthevelocityv=rofthependulummassaroundthepivot,whereistheangular

usingmathsimilartothatusedtoderivethepreviousequation.
Similarly,thekineticenergyofthependulummassisdefinedbythevelocityofthependulumaround
thepivottoyield

ThisshowsthatthequantityI=mr2ishowmasscombineswiththeshapeofabodytodefine
rotationalinertia.Themomentofinertiaofanarbitrarilyshapedbodyisthesumofthevaluesmr2for
alloftheelementsofmassinthebody.

Compoundpendulum

PendulumsusedinMendenhallgravimeterapparatus,from1897scientificjournal.Theportablegravimeterdeveloped
in1890byThomasC.Mendenhallprovidedthemostaccuraterelativemeasurementsofthelocalgravitationalfieldof
theEarth.

Acompoundpendulumisabodyformedfromanassemblyofparticlesofcontinuousshapethat
rotatesrigidlyaroundapivot.Itsmomentofinertiaisthesumofthemomentsofinertiaofeachofthe
[14][15]:395396[16]:5153

particlesthatitiscomposedof.[14][15]:395396[16]:5153Thenaturalfrequency(

)ofacompoundpendulumdependsonitsmomentofinertia,

where

isthemassoftheobject,

islocalaccelerationofgravity,and

isthedistancefromthepivotpointtothecentreofmassoftheobject.Measuringthisfrequencyof
oscillationoversmallangulardisplacementsprovidesaneffectivewayofmeasuringmomentof
inertiaofabody.[17]:516517
Thus,todeterminethemomentofinertiaofthebody,simplysuspenditfromaconvenientpivotpoint

sothatitswingsfreelyinaplaneperpendiculartothedirectionofthedesiredmomentofinertia,then
measureitsnaturalfrequencyorperiodofoscillation(

),toobtain

where

istheperiod(duration)ofoscillation(usuallyaveragedovermultipleperiods).

,isthencalculatedusingtheparallelaxistheoremtobe

where

isthemassofthebodyand

isthedistancefromthepivotpoint

tothecentreofmass

.
ringofequalmassaroundthecentreofmassofabodythathasthesamemomentofinertia.The

iscalculatedfromthebody'smomentofinertia

andmass

asthelength,[18]:12961297

Centerofoscillation
Asimplependulumthathasthesamenaturalfrequencyasacompoundpendulumdefinesthelength

fromthepivottoapointcalledthecentreofoscillationofthecompoundpendulum.Thispointalso
correspondstothecentreofpercussion.Thelength

isdeterminedfromtheformula,

or

Thesecondspendulum,whichprovidesthe"tick"and"tock"ofagrandfatherclock,takesonesecond
toswingfromsidetoside.Thisisaperiodoftwoseconds,oranaturalfrequencyof

,canbecomputedtobe

accommodatedifferentvaluesforthelocalaccelerationofgravity.Kater'spendulumisacompound
pendulumthatusesthispropertytomeasurethelocalaccelerationofgravity,andiscalleda
gravimeter.

Measuringmomentofinertia
Themomentofinertiaofcomplexsystemssuchasavehicleorairplanearounditsverticalaxiscan
bemeasuredbysuspendingthesystemfromthreepointstoformatrifilarpendulum.Atrifilar
pendulumisaplatformsupportedbythreewiresdesignedtooscillateintorsionarounditsvertical
centroidalaxis.[19]Theperiodofoscillationofthetrifilarpendulumyieldsthemomentofinertiaofthe
system.[20]

sphericalshell(red),solidsphere(orange),cylindricalring(green)andsolidcylinder(blue).Thetimeforeachobject
toreachthefinishinglinedependsontheirmomentofinertia.(OGVversion)

body,whereristheperpendiculardistancetothespecifiedaxis.Toseehowmomentofinertiaarises
inthestudyofthemovementofanextendedbody,itisconvenienttoconsiderarigidassemblyof
pointmasses.(Thisequationcanbeusedforaxesthatarenotprincipalaxesprovidedthatitis
understoodthatthisdoesnotfullydescribethemomentofinertia.[21])
ConsiderthekineticenergyofanassemblyofNmassesmithatlieatthedistancesrifromthepivot
pointP,whichisthenearestpointontheaxisofrotation.Itisthesumofthekineticenergyofthe
individualmasses,[17]:516517[18]:10841085[18]:12961300

Thisshowsthatthemomentofinertiaofthebodyisthesumofeachofthemr2terms,thatis

Thus,momentofinertiaisaphysicalpropertythatcombinesthemassanddistributionofthe
differentmomentsofinertia.
way,exceptwithinfinitelymanypointparticles.Thusthelimitsofsummationareremoved,andthe
sumiswrittenasfollows:

Anotherexpressionreplacesthesummationwithanintegral,

Here,thefunctiongivesthemassdensityateachpoint(x,y,z),risavectorperpendiculartothe
axisofrotationandextendingfromapointontherotationaxistoapoint(x,y,z)inthesolid,andthe
integrationisevaluatedoverthevolumeVofthebodyQ.Themomentofinertiaofaflatsurfaceis
similarwiththemassdensitybeingreplacedbyitsarealmassdensitywiththeintegralevaluatedover
itsarea.
Noteonsecondmomentofarea:Themomentofinertiaofabodymovinginaplaneandthe
secondmomentofareaofabeam'scrosssectionareoftenconfused.Themomentofinertiaofbody
tothecrosssection,weightedbyitsdensity.Thisisalsocalledthepolarmomentofthearea,andis
usingthesecondmomentofthecrosssectionalareaaroundeitherthexaxisoryaxisdependingon
Themomentofinertiaofacompoundpendulumconstructedfromathindiscmountedattheend
ofathinrodthatoscillatesaroundapivotattheotherendoftherod,beginswiththecalculationof
Themomentofinertiaofathinrodwithconstantcrosssectionsanddensityandwithlength
thexaxiswiththerodandlocatetheoriginitscentreofmassatthecentreoftherod,then

wherem=sisthemassoftherod.

axisthroughitscentreandperpendiculartoitsface(paralleltoitsaxisofrotationalsymmetry)is
determinedbyintegration.[18]:1301Alignthezaxiswiththeaxisofthediscanddefineavolume
elementasdV=srdrd,then

wherem=R2sisitsmass.
inertiaoftherodandthediscaroundthepivotpointPas,

whereListhelengthofthependulum.Noticethattheparallelaxistheoremisusedtoshiftthe
momentofinertiafromthecentreofmasstothepivotpointofthependulum.
Alistofmomentsofinertiaformulasforstandardbodyshapesprovidesawaytoobtainthemoment
ofinertialofacomplexbodyasanassemblyofsimplershapedbodies.Theparallelaxistheoremis
usedtoshiftthereferencepointoftheindividualbodiestothereferencepointoftheassembly.

axisthroughitscentreofmass.Thisisdeterminedbysummingthemomentsofinertiaofthethin
discsthatformthesphere.Ifthesurfaceoftheballisdefinedbytheequation[18]:1301

Therefore,themomentofinertiaoftheballisthesumofthemomentsofinertiaofthediscsalong
thezaxis,

wherem=

Momentofinertiainplanarmovementofarigidbody
Ifamechanicalsystemisconstrainedtomoveparalleltoafixedplane,thentherotationofabodyin
thesystemoccursaroundanaxiskperpendiculartothisplane.Inthiscase,themomentofinertiaof
themassinthissystemisascalarknownasthepolarmomentofinertia.Thedefinitionofthepolar
momentofinertiacanbeobtainedbyconsideringmomentum,kineticenergyandNewton'slawsfor
theplanarmovementofarigidsystemofparticles.[14][17][23][24]
Ifasystemofnparticles,Pi,i=1,...,n,areassembledintoarigidbody,thenthemomentumofthe
systemcanbewrittenintermsofpositionsrelativetoareferencepointR,andabsolutevelocitiesvi

whereistheangularvelocityofthesystemandVisthevelocityofR.
Forplanarmovementtheangularvelocityvectorisdirectedalongtheunitvectorkwhichis
perpendiculartotheplaneofmovement.IntroducetheunitvectorseifromthereferencepointRtoa
pointri,andtheunitvectorti=keiso

Thisdefinestherelativepositionvectorandthevelocityvectorfortherigidsystemoftheparticles
movinginaplane.
Noteonthecrossproduct:Whenabodymovesparalleltoagroundplane,thetrajectoriesofall
thepointsinthebodylieinplanesparalleltothisgroundplane.Thismeansthatanyrotationthatthe
bodyundergoesmustbearoundanaxisperpendiculartothisplane.Planarmovementisoften
presentedasprojectedontothisgroundplanesothattheaxisofrotationappearsasapoint.Inthis
case,theangularvelocityandangularaccelerationofthebodyarescalarsandthefactthattheyare
vectorsalongtherotationaxisisignored.Thisisusuallypreferredforintroductionstothetopic.Butin
thecaseofmomentofinertia,thecombinationofmassandgeometrybenefitsfromthegeometric
propertiesofthecrossproduct.Forthisreason,inthissectiononplanarmovementtheangular
velocityandaccelerationsofthebodyarevectorsperpendiculartothegroundplane,andthecross
productoperationsarethesameasusedforthestudyofspatialrigidbodymovement.

Angularmomentuminplanarmovement
Theangularmomentumvectorfortheplanarmovementofarigidsystemofparticlesisgivenby[14]
[17]

UsethecentreofmassCasthereferencepointso

anddefinethemomentofinertiarelativetothecentreofmassICas

thentheequationforangularmomentumsimplifiesto[18]:1028

throughthecentreofmassisknownasthepolarmomentofinertia.
intheangularvelocity.Figureskaterscanchangetheirmomentofinertiabypullingintheirarms.
velocitywhenthearmsarepulledin,becauseofthereducedmomentofinertia.

Kineticenergyinplanarmovement

This1906rotaryshearusesthemomentofinertiaoftwoflywheelstostorekineticenergywhichwhenreleasedisused
tocutmetalstock(InternationalLibraryofTechnology,1906).

Thekineticenergyofarigidsystemofparticlesmovingintheplaneisgivenby[14][17]

Thisequationexpandstoyieldthreeterms

LetthereferencepointbethecentreofmassCofthesystemsothesecondtermbecomeszero,and
introducethemomentofinertiaICsothekineticenergyisgivenby[18]:1084

ThemomentofinertiaICisthepolarmomentofinertiaofthebody.

Newton'slawsforplanarmovement

A1920sJohnDeeretractorwiththespokedflywheelontheengine.Thelargemomentofinertiaoftheflywheel
smoothstheoperationofthetractor

Newton'slawsforarigidsystemofNparticles,Pi,i=1,...,N,canbewrittenintermsofaresultant
forceandtorqueatareferencepointR,toyield[14][17]

whereridenotesthetrajectoryofeachparticle.
ThekinematicsofarigidbodyyieldstheformulafortheaccelerationoftheparticlePiintermsofthe
positionRandaccelerationAofthereferenceparticleaswellastheangularvelocityvectorand
angularaccelerationvectoroftherigidsystemofparticlesas,

Forsystemsthatareconstrainedtoplanarmovement,theangularvelocityandangularacceleration
vectorsaredirectedalongkperpendiculartotheplaneofmovement,whichsimplifiesthis

accelerationequation.Inthiscase,theaccelerationvectorscanbesimplifiedbyintroducingtheunit
vectorseifromthereferencepointRtoapointriandtheunitvectorsti=kei,so

Thisyieldstheresultanttorqueonthesystemas

whereeiei=0,andeiti=kistheunitvectorperpendiculartotheplaneforalloftheparticlesPi.
UsethecentreofmassCasthereferencepointanddefinethemomentofinertiarelativetothe
centreofmassIC,thentheequationfortheresultanttorquesimplifiesto[18]:1029

TheparameterICisthepolarmomentofinertiaofthemovingbody.

Theinertiamatrixforspatialmovementofarigidbody
Thescalarmomentsofinertiaappearaselementsinamatrixwhenasystemofparticlesis
assembledintoarigidbodythatmovesinthreedimensionalspace.Thisinertiamatrixappearsinthe
calculationoftheangularmomentum,kineticenergyandresultanttorqueoftherigidsystemof
particles.[3][4][5][6][25]
AnimportantapplicationoftheinertiamatrixandNewton'slawsofmotionistheanalysisofa
spinningtop.Thisisdiscussedinthearticleongyroscopicprecession.Amoredetailedpresentation
canbefoundinthearticleonEuler'sequationsofmotion.
LetthesystemofparticlesPi,i=1,...,nbelocatedatthecoordinatesriwithvelocitiesvirelativetoa
fixedreferenceframe.Fora(possiblymoving)referencepointR,therelativepositionsare

andthe(absolute)velocitiesare

whereistheangularvelocityofthesystem,andVRisthevelocityofR.

Angularmomentum
IfthereferencepointRintheassembly,orbody,ischosenasthecentreofmassC,thenitsangular
momentumtakestheform,[3][6]

wherethetermscontainingVRsumtozerobydefinitionofthecentreofmass.
fromavectorbthatperformsthecrossproductoperation,suchthat

Thismatrix[B]hasthecomponentsofb=(bx,by,bz)asitselements,intheform

Nowconstructtheskewsymmetricmatrix[ri]=[riC]obtainedfromtherelativepositionvectorri=ri
C,andusethisskewsymmetricmatrixtodefine,

where[IC]definedby

isthesymmetricinertiamatrixoftherigidsystemofparticlesmeasuredrelativetothecentreofmass
C.

Kineticenergy
Thekineticenergyofarigidsystemofparticlescanbeformulatedintermsofthecentreofmassand
amatrixofmassmomentsofinertiaofthesystem.LetthesystemofparticlesPi,i=1,...,nbelocated
atthecoordinatesriwithvelocitiesvi,thenthekineticenergyis[3][6]

whereri=riCisthepositionvectorofaparticlerelativetothecentreofmass.
Thisequationexpandstoyieldthreeterms

ThesecondterminthisequationiszerobecauseCisthecentreofmass.Introducetheskew
symmetricmatrix[ri]sothekineticenergybecomes

Thus,thekineticenergyoftherigidsystemofparticlesisgivenby

where[IC]istheinertiamatrixrelativetothecentreofmassandMisthetotalmass.

Resultanttorque
TheinertiamatrixappearsintheapplicationofNewton'ssecondlawtoarigidassemblyofparticles.
Theresultanttorqueonthissystemis,[3][6]

whereaiistheaccelerationoftheparticlePi.Thekinematicsofarigidbodyyieldstheformulaforthe
accelerationoftheparticlePiintermsofthepositionRandaccelerationAofthereferencepoint,as
wellastheangularvelocityvectorandangularaccelerationvectoroftherigidsystemas,

UsethecentreofmassCasthereferencepoint,andintroducetheskewsymmetricmatrix[ri]=[riC]
torepresentthecrossproduct(riC)x,toobtain

Thecalculationusestheidentity

obtainedfromtheJacobiidentityforthetriplecrossproductasshownintheproofbelow:
Theinertiamatrixofabodydependsonthechoiceofthereferencepoint.Thereisauseful
relationshipbetweentheinertiamatrixrelativetothecentreofmassCandtheinertiamatrixrelative
toanotherpointR.Thisrelationshipiscalledtheparallelaxistheorem.[3][6]
Considertheinertiamatrix[IR]obtainedforarigidsystemofparticlesmeasuredrelativetoa
referencepointR,givenby

LetCbethecentreofmassoftherigidsystem,then

wheredisthevectorfromthecentreofmassCtothereferencepointR.Usethisequationto
computetheinertiamatrix,

Expandthisequationtoobtain

Thefirsttermistheinertiamatrix[IC]relativetothecentreofmass.Thesecondandthirdtermsare
zerobydefinitionofthecentreofmassC.Andthelasttermisthetotalmassofthesystemmultiplied
bythesquareoftheskewsymmetricmatrix[d]constructedfromd.
Theresultistheparallelaxistheorem,

wheredisthevectorfromthecentreofmassCtothereferencepointR.
Noteontheminussign:Byusingtheskewsymmetricmatrixofpositionvectorsrelativetothe
referencepoint,theinertiamatrixofeachparticlehastheformm[r]2,whichissimilartothemr2that
appearsinplanarmovement.However,tomakethistoworkoutcorrectlyaminussignisneeded.
Thisminussigncanbeabsorbedintothetermm[r]T[r],ifdesired,byusingtheskewsymmetry
propertyof[r].

Theinertiamatrixandthescalarmomentofinertiaaroundan
arbitraryaxis
unitvectorSandpassesthroughthebodyatapointRisasfollows:[6]

where[IR]isthemomentofinertiamatrixofthesystemrelativetothereferencepointR.
Thisisderivedasfollows.LetarigidassemblyofNparticles,Pi,i=1,...,N,havecoordinatesri.
ChooseRasareferencepointandcomputethemomentofinertiaaroundanaxisLdefinedbythe
unitvectorSthroughthereferencepointR.Themomentofinertiaofthesystemaroundthisline

L=R+tSiscomputedbydeterminingtheperpendicularvectorfromthisaxistotheparticlePigivenby

where[I]istheidentitymatrixand[SST]istheouterproductmatrixformedfromtheunitvectorS
alongthelineL.
Torelatethisscalarmomentofinertiatotheinertiamatrixofthebody,introducetheskewsymmetric
matrix[S]suchthat[S]y=Sxy,thenwehavetheidentity

whichreliesonthefactthatSisaunitvector.
Themagnitudesquaredoftheperpendicularvectoris

Thesimplificationofthisequationusestheidentity

wherethedotandthecrossproductshavebeeninterchanged.Expandthecrossproductsto
compute

where[ri]istheskewsymmetricmatrixobtainedfromthevectorr=riR.
Thus,themomentofinertiaaroundthelineLthroughRinthedirectionSisobtainedfromthe
calculation

or

where[IR]isthemomentofinertiamatrixofthesystemrelativetothereferencepointR.
Thisshowsthattheinertiamatrixcanbeusedtocalculatethemomentofinertiaofabodyaround
anyspecifiedrotationaxisinthebody.

Theinertiatensor
Theinertiamatrixisoftendescribedastheinertiatensor,whichconsistsofthesamemomentsof
fromtheninecomponenttensors,(thesymbol

isthetensorproduct)

whereei,i=1,2,3arethethreeorthogonalunitvectorsdefiningtheinertialframeinwhichthebody
moves.Usingthisbasistheinertiatensorisgivenby

Thistensorisofdegreetwobecausethecomponenttensorsareeachconstructedfromtwobasis
vectors.Inthisformtheinertiatensorisalsocalledtheinertiabinor.
ForarigidsystemofparticlesPk,k=1,...,Neachofmassmkwithpositioncoordinatesrk=(xk,yk,zk),
theinertiatensorisgivenby

whereEistheidentitytensor

Theinertiatensorforacontinuousbodyisgivenby

whererdefinesthecoordinatesofapointinthebodyand(r)isthemassdensityatthatpoint.The
integralistakenoverthevolumeVofthebody.TheinertiatensorissymmetricbecauseIij=Iji.
Alternativelyitcanalsobewrittenintermsofthehatoperatoras:

Theinertiatensorcanbeusedinthesamewayastheinertiamatrixtocomputethescalarmoment

wherethedotproductistakenwiththecorrespondingelementsinthecomponenttensors.Aproduct
ofinertiatermsuchasI12isobtainedbythecomputation

andcanbeinterpretedasthemomentofinertiaaroundthexaxiswhentheobjectrotatesaroundthe
yaxis.

Thecomponentsoftensorsofdegreetwocanbeassembledintoamatrix.Fortheinertiatensorthis
matrixisgivenby,

Itiscommoninrigidbodymechanicstousenotationthatexplicitlyidentifiesthex,y,andzaxes,such
asIxxandIxy,forthecomponentsoftheinertiatensor.

Tocomputemomentofinertiaofamassaroundanaxis,theperpendicularvectorfromthemassto
theaxisisneeded.IftheaxisLisdefinedbytheunitvectorSthroughthereferencepointR,thenthe
perpendicularvectorfromthelineLtothepointrisgivenby

where[I]istheidentitymatrixand[SST]istheouterproductmatrixformedfromtheunitvectorS
alongthelineL.Recallthatskewsymmetricmatrix[S]isconstructedsothat[S]y=Sxy.Thematrix
[ISST]inthisequationsubtractsthecomponentofr=rRthatisparalleltoS.
Theprevioussectionsshowthatincomputingthemomentofinertiamatrixthisoperatoryieldsa
similaroperatorusingthecomponentsofthevectorrthatis

tensorandtheinertiamatrix.
Let[R]betheskewsymmetricmatrixassociatedwiththepositionvectorR=(x,y,z),thentheproduct
intheinertiamatrixbecomes

Thiscanbeviewedasanotherwayofcomputingtheperpendiculardistancefromanaxistoapoint,
becausethematrixformedbytheouterproduct[RRT]yieldstheidentify

where[I]isthe3x3identitymatrix.
Alsonotice,that

wheretrdenotesthesumofthediagonalelementsoftheouterproductmatrix,knownasitstrace.

Theinertiamatrixindifferentreferenceframes
TheuseoftheinertiamatrixinNewton'ssecondlawassumesitscomponentsarecomputedrelative
toaxesparalleltotheinertialframeandnotrelativetoabodyfixedreferenceframe.[6][23]Thismeans
thatasthebodymovesthecomponentsoftheinertiamatrixchangewithtime.Incontrast,the
componentsoftheinertiamatrixmeasuredinabodyfixedframeareconstant.

Bodyframeinertiamatrix
Letthebodyframeinertiamatrixrelativetothecentreofmassbedenoted[ICB],anddefinethe
orientationofthebodyframerelativetotheinertialframebytherotationmatrix[A],suchthat,

wherevectorsyinthebodyfixedcoordinateframehavecoordinatesxintheinertialframe.Then,the
inertiamatrixofthebodymeasuredintheinertialframeisgivenby

Noticethat[A]changesasthebodymoves,while[ICB]remainsconstant.

Principalaxes
Measuredinthebodyframetheinertiamatrixisaconstantrealsymmetricmatrix.Arealsymmetric
givenby

where

Thecolumnsoftherotationmatrix[Q]definethedirectionsoftheprincipalaxesofthebody,andthe
constantsI1,I2andI3arecalledtheprincipalmomentsofinertia.ThisresultwasfirstshownbyJ.
J.Sylvester(1852),andisaformofSylvester'slawofinertia.[26][27]
Forbodieswithconstantdensityanaxisofrotationalsymmetryisaprincipalaxis.

Inertiaofanellipsoid

Anellipsoidwiththesemiprincipaldiameterslabelleda,b,andc.

thebodycalledPoinsot'sellipsoid.[28]Let[]betheinertiamatrixrelativetothecentreofmass
alignedwiththeprincipalaxes,thenthesurface

or

definesanellipsoidinthebodyframe.Writethisequationintheform,

toseethatthesemiprincipaldiametersofthisellipsoidaregivenby

Letapointxonthisellipsoidbedefinedintermsofitsmagnitudeanddirection,x=|x|n,wherenisa
unitvector.Thentherelationshippresentedabove,betweentheinertiamatrixandthescalarmoment
ofinertiaInaroundanaxisinthedirectionn,yields

Thus,themagnitudeofapointxinthedirectionnontheinertiaellipsoidis