- Generalized coordinates
By deriving

equations of motion in terms of a general set of**generalized coordinates**, the results found will be valid for anycoordinate system that is ultimately specified."cite book |last=Torby |first=Bruce |title=Advanced Dynamics for Engineers |series=HRW Series in Mechanical Engineering |year=1984 |publisher=CBS College Publishing |location=United States of America |isbn=0-03-063366-4 |chapter=Energy Methods] rp|259 The name is a holdover from a period whenCartesian coordinates were the standard system.**Independent generalized coordinates**For any particular problem, it is advantageous to choose generalized coordinates such that they are independent, as is done in

Lagrangian mechanics , because this eliminates the variables that would be required to express constraints on and among the coordinates. However, when dealing with nonholonomic constraints or when trying to find the force due to any constraint—holonomic or not, dependent generalized coordinates must be employed. Sometimes independent generalized coordinates are called internal coordinates because they are mutually independent, otherwise unconstrained, and together give the position of the system.A system with $m$ degrees of freedom and n particles whose positions are designated with three dimensional vectors, $lbrace\; mathbf\; \{r\}\_i\; brace$, implies the existence of $3\; n-m$ scalar constraint equations on those position variables. Such a system can be fully described by the scalar generalized coordinates, $lbrace\; q\_1,\; q\_2,\; ...,\; q\_m\; brace$, and the time, $t$, if and only if all $m$ $lbrace\; q\_j\; brace$ are independent coordinates. For the system, the transformation from old coordinates to generalized coordinates may be represented as follows:rp|260

:$mathbf\{r\}\_1=mathbf\{r\}\_1(q\_1,\; q\_2,\; ...,\; q\_m,\; t)$,:$mathbf\{r\}\_2=mathbf\{r\}\_2(q\_1,\; q\_2,\; ...,\; q\_m,\; t)$, ...:$mathbf\{r\}\_n=mathbf\{r\}\_n(q\_1,\; q\_2,\; ...,\; q\_m,\; t)$.

This transformation affords the flexibility in dealing with complex systems to use the most convenient and not necessarily

inertial coordinates. These equations are used to construct differentials when consideringvirtual displacement s andgeneralized forces .**Examples**A

**double-pendulum**constrained to move in the plane of the page may be described by the fourCartesian coordinates $lbrace\; x\_1,\; y\_1,\; x\_2,\; y\_2\; brace$, but the system only has two degrees of freedom, and a more efficient system would be to use

$lbrace\; q\_1,\; q\_2\; brace\; =\; lbrace\; heta\_1,\; heta\_2\; brace$, which are defined via the following relations:

$lbrace\; x\_1,\; y\_1\; brace\; =\; lbrace\; l\_1sin\; heta\_1,\; l\_1cos\; heta\_1\; brace$

$lbrace\; x\_2,\; y\_2\; brace\; =\; lbrace\; l\_1sin\; heta\_1+l\_2sin\; heta\_2,\; l\_1cos\; heta\_1+l\_2cos\; heta\_2\; brace$A

**bead constrained to move on a wire**has only one degree of freedom, and the generalized coordinate used to describe its motion is often:

$q\_1=\; l$,

where $l$ is the distance along the wire from some reference point on the wire. Notice that a motion embedded in three dimensions has been reduced to only one dimension.An

**object constrained to a surface**has two degrees of freedom, even though its motion is again embedded in three dimensions. If the surface is a sphere, a good choice of coordinates would be:

$lbrace\; q\_1,\; q\_2\; brace\; =\; lbrace\; heta,\; phi\; brace$,

where $heta$ and $phi$ are the angle coordinates familiar fromspherical coordinates . The $r$ coordinate has been effectively dropped, as a particle moving on a sphere maintains a constant radius.**Generalized velocities and kinetic energy**Each generalized coordinate $q\_i$ is associated with a generalized velocity $dot\; q\_i$, defined as:

$dot\; q\_i=\{dq\_i\; over\; dt\}$

The kinetic energy of a particle is

$T\; =\; frac\; \{m\}\{2\}\; left\; (\; dot\; x^2\; +\; dot\; y^2\; +\; dot\; z^2\; ight\; )$.

In more general terms, for a system of $p$ particles with $n$ degrees of freedom, this may be written

$T\; =sum\_\{i=1\}\; ^p\; frac\; \{m\_i\}\{2\}\; left\; (\; dot\; x\_i^2\; +\; dot\; y\_i^2\; +\; dot\; z\_i^2\; ight\; )$.

If the transformation equations between the Cartesian and generalized coordinates

$x\_i\; =\; x\_i\; left\; (q\_1,\; q\_2,\; ...,\; q\_n,\; t\; ight\; )$

$y\_i\; =\; y\_i\; left\; (q\_1,\; q\_2,\; ...,\; q\_n,\; t\; ight\; )$

$z\_i\; =\; z\_i\; left\; (q\_1,\; q\_2,\; ...,\; q\_n,\; t\; ight\; )$

are known, then these equations may be differentiated to provide the time-derivatives to use in the above kinetic energy equation:

$dot\; x\_i\; =\; frac\; \{d\}\{dt\}\; x\_i\; left\; (q\_1,\; q\_2,\; ...,\; q\_n,\; t\; ight\; ).$It is important to remember that the kinetic energy must be measured relative to inertial coordinates. If the above method is used, it means only that the Cartesian coordinates need to be

inertial , even though the generalized coordinates need not be. This is another considerable convenience of the use of generalized coordinates.**Applications of generalized coordinates**Such coordinates are helpful principally in

Lagrangian Dynamics , where the forms of the principal equations describing the motion of the system are unchanged by a shift to generalized coordinates from any other coordinate system.The amount of

virtual work done along any coordinate $q\_i$ is given by:

$delta\; W\_\{q\_i\}\; =\; F\_\{q\_i\}\; cdot\; delta\; q\_i$,where $F\_\{q\_i\}$ is the

generalized force in the $q\_i$ direction. While the generalized force is difficult to construct 'a priori', it may be quickly derived by determining the amount of work that would be done by all non-constraint force s if the system underwent avirtual displacement of $delta\; q\_i$, with all other generalized coordinates and time held fixed. This will take the form:

$delta\; W\_\{q\_i\}\; =\; f\; left\; (\; q\_1,\; q\_2,\; ...,\; q\_n\; ight\; )\; cdot\; delta\; q\_i$,

and thegeneralized force may then be calculated:

$F\_\{q\_i\}\; =\; frac\; \{delta\; W\_\{q\_i\{delta\; q\_i\}\; =\; f\; left\; (\; q\_1,\; q\_2,\; ...,\; q\_n\; ight\; )$.**ee also***

Lagrangian mechanics

*Hamiltonian mechanics

*Degrees of freedom (physics and chemistry)

*Virtual work

*Orthogonal coordinates

*Curvilinear coordinates

*Frenet-Serret formulas **References***cite book

last = Greenwood

first = Donald T.

year = 1987

title = Principles of Dynamics

edition = 2nd edition

publisher = Prentice Hall

id = ISBN 0-13-709981-9

*cite book

last = Wells

first = D. A.

year = 1967

title = Schaum's Outline of Lagrangian Dynamics

location = New York

publisher = McGraw-Hill

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