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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 I (

)=

t 2 t 1 F

( U, ˙ U,t ) dt, (1)where t 1 , and t 2 are arbitrary,

is a small positive, real constant, and U and˙ U are given by U ( t )= u ( t )+

(

(2)The functions U .t ) . t 1 . and u may be thought of as describing the possible positions of a dynamical systembetween the two instants in time. and˙ U ( t )=˙ u ( t )+ ˙ η ( t ) .

and t 2 .e. and U ( t ) is u ( t ) plus a variation ( t ). where it is an extremum. where u ( t ) represents the position when the integral de-scribed by Equation (1) is stationary. i.The function U ( t ) does not by deﬁnition render (1) stationary because we shall assume η ..

( t ) is indepen-dent of u ( t ). We willnow specify that the functions u ( . The important point so far is that have not made any restrictivestatements about I ( ) other than it is an integral of a functional of the functions U ( t ) and˙ U ( t ). and we will assume that a unique function renders (1) an extremum. The reasons for theseassumptions will become clear below.

they possess continuous secondderivatives with respect to t .t ). and t = t 2 . Inother words. u . That is. let us stipulate that η ( t ) must vanish at t = t 1 . Further. and η ( t ) are of class C 2 .

by deﬁnition. that the function u ( . We have. lets see what rules the functional F ( U.( t ) and U ( t ) coincide at the end points of the interval [ t 1 .t 2 ].Now that we have the stage more or less set up.t ) mustobey to render (1) extreme. and t 2 are arbitrary . where t 1 . ˙ U.

this situation is depicted in Figure1. assuming that t 1 . and t 2 . Relationship between extremizing function u ( t ). or = 0.Thus.t ) renders I stationary. and variation ( t ). hence.Figure 1.we know this occurs when U ( t )= u ( t ).

we set the ﬁrst derivative of I ( ) equal to zero. dI ( ) =0 = t 2 t 1 ( U. ˙ .are not functions of .

(3)2 © Dr.t )= + ∂F ∂ ˙ U∂ ˙ . ( U. 1995 – 2011All Rights Res. Daniel S. 1 THE CALCULUS OF VARIATIONS However. Stutts.t ) dt =0 . ˙ U.U.

(4)so substituting Equation (4) into Equation (3). we have dI ( ) =0 = t 2 t 1 ∂F ∂uη + ∂F ∂ ˙ u ˙ η . and setting = 0.

(5)Integration of Equation (5) by parts yields: dI ( ) =0 = t 2 t 1 η ( t ) ∂F ∂u .dt =0 .

− 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 ( ) =0 = t 2 t 1 η ( t ) .

since η ( t ) is arbitrary except at the endpoints t 1 . (7)By the fundamental theorem of the calculus of variations [1]. in general dI ( ) . and t 2 . we must have.∂F ∂u − ddt∂F ∂ ˙ u dt =0 .

or (3) an inﬂection point – i.=0 = ∂F ∂u − ddt∂F ∂ ˙ u =0 . there is noguarantee of the existence of a global extremum.e. In fact. It speciﬁes the conditions on the functional F toextremize the integral I ( ) given by Equation (1). By extremize. the integral may be only locally extreme for small valuesof . we mean that I ( ) may be (1) maxi-mum. neither maximum. nor minimum. (8)Equation (8) is known as the Euler-Lagrange equation. (2) minimum.

Let it suﬃce to say that for every case considered in this class.Equation (5) is often written δI = dI ( ) =0 . I ( ) will be globally minimum when = 0.. The determination of the nature of the stationary condition of I ( ) for the general case is beyondthe scope of this document.

= t 2 t 1 ∂F ∂uη + ∂F ∂ ˙ u ˙ η dt = t 2 t 1 ∂F ∂uδu .

ddtδu = ddt ( )= . and [2]. (9)where δu = η is the variation of u .+ ∂F ∂ ˙ uδ ˙ u dt =0 .

(10)Using Equation (10). . we obtain δI = t 2 t 1 ∂F ∂u − ddt∂F ∂ ˙ u δudt. and integrating Equation (9) by parts.˙ η = δdudt = δ ˙ u.

1995 – 2011All Rights Res. Stutts. that δu ( t 1 )= δu ( t 2 ) = 0. Hence. perhaps. u . the most important result in the calculus of variations. We derivedthe Euler-Lagrange equation for a single variable. as before.3 © Dr. 2 HAMILTON’S PRINCIPLE 2 Hamilton’s Principle Hamilton’s principal is. we may obtain .(11)with the stipulation. but we will now shift our attention to a system N particles of mass m i each. Daniel S.

(12)where the bold font indicates a vector quantity. and F i denotes the total force on the i th particle.D’Alembert’s principle may be stated by rewriting Equation (12) as m i ¨r .N equations of the form m i ¨r i = F i .

i − F i = 0 (13)Taking the dot product of each of the Equations (13) with the variation in position δ r . yields N i =1 ( m i ¨r i − F i ) . and summing theresult over all N particles.

· δ r =0 . (15)Next. (14)We note that the sum of the virtual work done by the applied forces over the virtual displacements isgiven by δW = N i =1 F i · δ r . we note that N i =1 .

m i ¨ r i · δ r i = N i =1 m i ddt (˙ r i · δ r i .

) − δ 12˙ r i · ˙ r i = N i =1 m i ddt (˙ r i · δ .

Equation (16) may be written. (16)where δT is the variation of the kinetic energy.r i ) − δT. δT + δW = N i =1 m i ddt (˙ r i · δ r . Hence.

Possible dynamical paths for a particle between two arbitrary instants in time.i ) . Stutts.4 © Dr. (17)In a manner similar to that shown in Figure1. 2 HAMILTON’S PRINCIPLE Since we again have that δ r ( t 1 )= δ r ( .where the varied dynamical path may bethought to occur atemporally . rrrr Figure 2. 1995 – 2011All Rights Res. Daniel S. and in view of Equation (10) the possible dynamicalpaths of each particle may be represented as shown in Figure2.

t 2 ) = 0. and t 2 to obtain t 2 t 1 ( δT + δW ) dt = N i =1 . we may multiply Equation (17) by dt . and and integratebetween the two arbitrary times t 1 .

(18)If δW can be expressed as the variation of the potential energy.m i (˙ r i · δ r i ) t 2 t 1 =0 . Equation (18) may be written . − δV 1 .

t 2 t 1 ( δT − δV ) dt =0 . Equation (19) becomes δ t 2 t 1 . (19)Introducing the Lagrange function. L = T − V .

and t 2 provided that the path variations vanish at t 1 . and t 2 [2]. Hamilton’s principal may be deﬁnedin words as follows.Ldt =0 . Deﬁnition 1 The actual path a body takes in conﬁguration space renders the value of the deﬁnite integral I = t 2 t 1 Ldt stationary with respect to all arbitrary variations of the path between two instants t 1 . . (20)Equation (20) is the mathematical statement of Hamilton’s principal .

2.1 Generalized Coordinates Implicit in the deﬁnition of Hamilton’s principle is that the system will move along a dynamical pathconsistent with the system constraints – i. the stationary value of I will be a minimum.and (in general) time. Generalized coordinates render thedynamical path explicitly permissible by describing it using the minimum number of independent coor-dinates.In all physical systems. along a permissible path. t. the i th system position may be described as a function of the N generalized coordinates.e. as follows: r i = r i ( q 1 .q 2 . Thus.

the variation of the i th position.. ··· .q 3 . may be expressed as δ r i = N j =1 ∂ r i ∂q j .t ) . which occurs atemporally. (21)Hence.q n .

δq j . Example 1 Given the system shown in Figure3 . and j are the unit vectors in the x and y directions. where i . over a virtual displacement δ r consistent with the constraints: x = r cos . determine the virtual work δW done by the force F =4 i +3 j . (22)Consider the following example.

1 The negative sign on δV is chosen to reﬂect that conservative forces may always be written as the negative gradient of the potential energy: F ci = . and q 2 = θ . q 1 = r . and y = r sin θ .θ . Use the generalized coordinates.

. for example. Where. uploaded a new revision for this document (#1) . in Cartesian coordinates: = ∂∂x i + ∂∂y j + ∂∂z k .− V .. 5 of 00 Leave a Comment Submit Characters: .

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