Classical mechanics with dissipative constraints

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


The aim of this thesis is to consider the mathematical treatment of mechanical systems in the presence of constraints which are energetically dissipative. Constraints may be energetically dissipative due to impacts and friction. In the frictionless setting, we generalize Hamilton's principle of stationary action, central to the Lagrangian formulation of classical mechanics, to reflect optimality conditions in constrained spaces. We show that this generalization leads to the standard measure-theoretic equations for shocks in the presence of unilateral constraints. Previously, these equations were simply postulated; we derive them from a fundamental variational principle. We also present results in the frictional setting. We survey the extensive literature on the subject, which focusses on existence results and numerical schemes known as time- stepping algorithms. We consider a novel model of friction (which is more dissipative than standard Coulomb friction) for which we can give better well-posedness results than what is currently available for the Coulomb theory. To this end, we study multi-valued maps, differential inclusions, and optimization theory. We construct a differential inclusion we call the feedback problem, for which the multi-valued map is the solution set of a convex program. We give existence and uniqueness results regarding this feedback problem. We cast the persistent contact evolution problem of our novel model of friction into the form of a feedback problem to derive an existence result.




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