Numerical Methods for Nonholonomic Mechanics
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We discuss nonholonomic systems in general and numerical methods for solving them. Two different approaches for obtaining numerical methods are considered; discretization of the Lagrange-d'Alembert equations on the one hand, and using the discrete Lagrange-d'Alembert principle to obtain nonholonomic integrators on the other. Among methods using the first approach, we focus on the super partitioned additive Runge-Kutta (SPARK) methods. Among nonholonomic integrators, we focus on a reversible second order method by McLachlan and Perlmutter. Through several numerical experiments the methods we present are compared by considering error-growth, conservation of energy, geometric properties of the solution and how well the constraints are satisfied. Of special interest is the comparison of the 2-stage SPARK Lobatto IIIA-B method and the nonholonomic integrator by McLachlan and Perlmutter, which both are reversible and of second order. We observe a clear connection between energy-conservation and the geometric properties of the numerical solution. To preserve energy in long-time integrations is seen to be important in order to get solutions with the correct qualitative properties. Our results indicate that the nonholonomic integrator by McLachlan and Perlmutter sometimes conserves energy better than the 2-stage SPARK Lobatto IIIA-B method. In a recent work by Jay, however, the same two methods are compared and are found to conserve energy equally well in long-time integrations.