The Use of Vector Techniques in Variational Problems

[+] Author and Article Information
L. J. Everett, M. McDermott

Mechanical Engineering Department, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843

J. Dyn. Sys., Meas., Control 108(2), 141-145 (Jun 01, 1986) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3143756 History: Received February 16, 1986; Online July 21, 2009


A convenient means for applying vector mathematics to variational problems is presented. The total and relative variations of a vector are defined and results which follow from these definitions are developed and proved. These results are then used to express the variation of a functional using vector techniques rather than the classical scalar or matrix techniques. The simple problems of deriving equations of motion for a rigid body and for a rigid double pendulum are presented as examples of the technique. The key advantages of the method are that (1) it allows the investigator who is familiar and proficient with vector techniques to apply these skills to variational problems and (2) it greatly simplifies the application of variational techniques to problems which include both rigid body motions and elastic deformations. This is accomplished by providing the techniques necessary for computing the variation of a vector defined in a moving coordinate system without using coordinate transformations.

Copyright © 1986 by ASME
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