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Udwadia–Kalaba equation

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Title: Udwadia–Kalaba equation  
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Udwadia–Kalaba equation

The Fundamental Equation of Constrained Motion[1] is a mathematical method for derivation of the equations of motion of a constrained system. This equation was originally developed by Firdaus E. Udwadia and Robert E. Kalaba in a series of papers, beginning in 1992. This equation has application in the field of analytical dynamics.

The Central Problem of Constrained Motion

In the study of the dynamics of mechanical systems, the configuration of a given system S is, in general, completely described by n generalized coordinates so that its generalized coordinate n-vector is given by


Using Newtonian or Lagrangian dynamics, the unconstrained equations of motion of the system S under study can be derived as


where it is assumed that the initial conditions q(0) and \dot{q}(0) are known. We call the system S unconstrained because \dot{q}(0) may be arbitrarily assigned. Here, the dots represent derivatives with respect to time. The n by n matrix M is symmetric, and it can be positive definite (M > 0) or semi-positive definite (M \geq 0). Typically, it is assumed that M is positive definite; however, it is not uncommon to derive the unconstrained equations of motion of the system S such that M is only semi-positive definite; i.e., the mass matrix may be singular.[2][3] The n-vector Q denotes the total generalized force impressed on the system; it can be expressible as the summation of all the conservative forces with the non-conservative forces.


We now assume that the unconstrained system S is subjected to a set of m consistent equality constraints given by

A(q,\dot{q},t)\ddot{q} = b(q,\dot{q},t),

where A is a known m by n matrix of rank r and b is a known m-vector. We note that this set of constraint equations encompass a very general variety of holonomic and non-holonomic equality constraints. For example, holonomic constraints of the form

\varphi(q,t) = 0

can be differentiated twice with respect to time while non-holonomic constraints of the form

\psi(q,\dot{q},t) = 0

can be differentiated once with respect to time to obtain the m by n matrix A and the m-vector b. In short, constraints may be specified that are (1) nonlinear functions of displacement and velocity, (2) explicitly dependent on time, and (3) functionally dependent.

As a consequence of subjecting these constraints to the unconstrained system S, an additional force is conceptualized to arise, namely, the force of constraint. Therefore, the constrained system S_c becomes


where Q^{c}—the constraint force—is the additional force needed to satisfy the imposed constraints. The central problem of constrained motion is now stated as follows:

1. given the unconstrained equations of motion of the system S,

2. given the generalized displacement q(t) and the generalized velocity \dot{q}(t) of the constrained system S_c at time t, and

3. given the constraints in the form A\ddot{q}=b as stated above,

find the equations of motion for the constrained system—the acceleration—at time t, which is in accordance with the agreed upon principles of analytical dynamics.

The Fundamental Equation of Constrained Motion

The solution to this central problem is given by the fundamental equation of constrained motion. When the matrix M is positive definite, the equation of motion of the constrained system S_c, at each instant of time, is[4][5]

M\ddot{q} = Q + M^{1/2}\left(AM^{-1/2}\right)^+(b-AM^{-1}Q),

where the '+' symbol denotes the Moore-Penrose inverse of the matrix AM^{-1/2}. The force of constraint is thus given explicitly as

Q^{c} = M^{1/2}\left(AM^{-1/2}\right)^+(b-AM^{-1}Q),

and since the matrix M is positive definite the generalized acceleration of the constrained system S_c is determined explicitly by

\ddot{q} = M^{-1}Q + M^{-1/2}\left(AM^{-1/2}\right)^+(b-AM^{-1}Q).

In the case that the matrix M is semi-positive definite (M \geq 0), the above equation cannot be used directly because M may be singular. Furthermore, the generalized accelerations may not be unique unless the n+m by n matrix

\hat{M} = \left[\begin{array}{c} M \\ A \end{array}\right]

has full rank (rank = n).[2][3] But since the observed accelerations of mechanical systems in nature are always unique, this rank condition is a necessary and sufficient condition for obtaining the uniquely defined generalized accelerations of the constrained system S_c at each instant of time. Thus, when \hat{M} has full rank, the equations of motion of the constrained system S_c at each instant of time are uniquely determined by (1) creating the auxiliary unconstrained system[3]

M_A \ddot{q}:=(M+A^+A)\ddot{q} = Q + A^+b := Q_b,

and by (2) applying the fundamental equation of constrained motion to this auxiliary unconstrained system so that the auxiliary constrained equations of motion are explicitly given by[3]

M_A \ddot{q} = Q_b + M_A^{1/2}(AM_A^{-1/2})^+(b-AM_A^{-1}Q_b).

Moreover, when the matrix \hat{M} has full rank, the matrix M_A is always positive definite. This yields, explicitly, the generalized accelerations of the constrained system S_c as

\ddot{q} = M_A^{-1}Q_b + M_A^{-1/2}(AM_A^{-1/2})^+(b-AM_A^{-1}Q_b).

This equation is valid when the matrix M is either positive definite or positive semi-definite! Additionally, the force of constraint that causes the constrained system S_c—a system that may have a singular mass matrix M—to satisfy the imposed constraints is explicitly given by

Q^{c} = M_A^{1/2}(AM_A^{-1/2})^+(b-AM_A^{-1}Q_b).


  1. ^ Udwadia, F.E.; Kalaba, R.E. (1996). Analytical Dynamics: A New Approach. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-04833-8
  2. ^ a b Udwadia, F.E.; Phohomsiri, P. (2006). "Explicit equations of motion for constrained mechanical systems with singular mass matrices and applications to multi-body dynamics". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A 462 (2071): 2097–2117.  
  3. ^ a b c d Udwadia, F.E.; Schutte, A.D. (2010). "Equations of motion for general constrained systems in Lagrangian mechanics". Acta Mechanica 213 (1): 111–129.  
  4. ^ Udwadia, F.E.; Kalaba, R.E. (1992). "A new perspective on constrained motion". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A 439 (1906): 407–410.  
  5. ^ Udwadia, F.E.; Kalaba, R.E. (1993). "On motion". Journal of the Franklin Institute 330 (3): 571–577.  
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