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4 views2 pages"What is the term used for the third derivative of position?" ©1992–2016 The Physics and Relativity FAQ, All Rights Reserved

Oct 11, 2019

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"What is the term used for the third derivative of position?" ©1992–2016 The Physics and Relativity FAQ, All Rights Reserved

© All Rights Reserved

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"What is the term used for the third derivative of position?" ©1992–2016 The Physics and Relativity FAQ, All Rights Reserved

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of position?

Philip Gibbs & Stephanie Gragert

November 1998

It is well known that the first derivative of position (symbol r) with respect to time is

velocity (symbol v) and the second is acceleration (symbol a). It is a little less well known

that there is no universally accepted name for derivative subsequent to acceleration.

However the third derivative, i.e. the rate of increase of acceleration, is technically known

as jerk (symbol j). In the UK jolt has sometimes been used instead of jerk and may be

equally acceptable, also if jerk appears to be the more common of the two. It is also reco-

gnised in international standards:

Note that the symbol j for jerk is not in the standard and is probably only one of many

symbols used.

Many other terms have appeared in individual cases for the third derivative, including

pulse, impulse, bounce, surge, shock and super acceleration. These are generally less ap-

propriate than jerk and jolt, either because they are used in engineering to mean other

things or because the common English use of the word does not fit the meaning so well.

For example impulse is more commonly used in physics to mean a increase of momentum

imparted by a force of limited duration [Belanger 1847] and surge is used by electricians

to mean something like rate of increase of current or voltage. The terms jerk and jolt are

therefore preferred for rate of increase of acceleration.

As its name suggests, jerk is important when evaluating the destructive effect of motion

on a mechanism or the discomfort caused to passengers in a vehicle. The movement of

delicate instruments needs to be kept within specified limits of jerk as well as acceleration

to avoid damage. When designing a train the engineers will typically be required to keep

the jerk less than 2 metres per second cubed for passenger comfort. In the aerospace indu-

stry they even have such a thing as a jerkmeter; an instrument for measuring jerk.

In the case of the Hubble space telescope, the engineers are said to have even gone as far

as specifying limits on the magnitude of the fourth derivative.

The term jounce has been used for the fourth derivative, i.e. the rate of increase of jerk, but

it has the drawback of using the same initial letter as jerk so it is not clear which symbol

to use. According this convention, According to this convention, the terms flounce and

pounce have been proposed for the fifth derivative and the sixth derivative. Another less

serious suggestion is snap (symbol s), crackle (symbol c) and pop (symbol ℘) for the 4th,

5th and 6th derivatives respectively. Higher derivatives do not yet have names because

they do not come up very often.

I

What is the term used for the third derivative of position?

Regarding the dynamic translational quantities, since the rate of increase of momentum

(symbol p) is force (symbol F) is it seems necessary to find terms for higher derivatives

of force too. So far yank (symbol Y) has been suggested for rate of increase of force, tug

(symbol T) for rate of increase of yank, snatch (symbol S) for rate of increase of tug and

shake (symbol S ) for rate of increase of snatch.

A similar reasoning can be done for the dynamic rotary quantities, in fact, when the refe-

rence point is motion less, the rate increase of angular momentum (symbol p), the moment

of momentum, is torque (symbol M), the moment of force, so for rate increase of torque

has been proposed rotatum (symbol P), gyratum (symbol G) for rate increase of rotatum,

versum (symbol V) for rate increase of gyratum and volutum (symbol V ) for rate increase

of versum.

Needless to say, none of these are in any kind of standards, yet. We just made them up on

usenet.

Momentum equals mass times velocity and its moment is angular momentum!

Force equals mass times acceleration and its moment is torque!

Yank equals mass times jerk and its moment is rotatum!

Tug equals mass times snap and its moment is gyratum!

Snatch equals mass times crackle and its moment is versum!

Shake equals mass times pop and its moment is volutum!

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