The new edition of a classic text that concentrates on developing general methods for studying the behavior of classical systems, with extensive use of computation.
We now know that there is much more to classical mechanics than previously suspected. Derivations of the equations of motion, the focus of traditional presentations of mechanics, are just the beginning. This innovative textbook, now in its second edition, concentrates on developing general methods for studying the behavior of classical systems, whether or not they have a symbolic solution. It focuses on the phenomenon of motion and makes extensive use of computer simulation in its explorations of the topic. It weaves recent discoveries in nonlinear dynamics throughout the text, rather than presenting them as an afterthought. Explorations of phenomena such as the transition to chaos, nonlinear resonances, and resonance overlap to help the student develop appropriate analytic tools for understanding. The book uses computation to constrain notation, to capture and formalize methods, and for simulation and symbolic analysis. The requirement that the computer be able to interpret any expression provides the student with strict and immediate feedback about whether an expression is correctly formulated.
This second edition has been updated throughout, with revisions that reflect insights gained by the authors from using the text every year at MIT. In addition, because of substantial software improvements, this edition provides algebraic proofs of more generality than those in the previous edition; this improvement permeates the new edition.
Gerald Jay Sussman is Panasonic Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT.
Jack Wisdom is Professor of Planetary Science at MIT.
Sussman and Wisdom make a bold experiment in communicating mathematical physics: they say exactly what they mean. Even a computer can follow their equations. By using this textbook, students painlessly master Scheme, a minimalist programming language, at the same time. This empowers them to go beyond the simplistic integrable systems that dominate the traditional course, to the richness of nonlinear resonance and chaotic dynamics. The hard core of rigor is softened by a personal and enthusiastic writing style.
David Ritz Finkelstein, School of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology
With many new additions, from quaternions to Lie transforms, the core virtue of the book remains the same as in the first edition: by making the physics precise enough to run on a computer, the authors open the door to a deeper understanding of classical reality, with the promise of a deeper understanding of all reality.
Piet Hut, Professor of Astrophysics, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey
How can one write a new book on classical mechanics? Hasn't everything already been said? No! Things have changed. Now that there are computers, you can actually solve the equations of motion for interesting problems. Mathematical niceties are not the obsession of the authors, but rather to find out what happens, by a natural combination of mathematical argument and computer use. This new and effective approach should attract students to a subject which, since Newton, has constantly managed to rejuvenate itself. This second edition has kept the principles that made the value of the first, with a number of improvements concerning in particular computer-implemented methods.
David Ruelle, Honorary Professor, Institut des Hautes Études Scientifique, France