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Geometric discretization of nonholonomic systems with symmetries

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  • The paper develops discretization schemes for mechanical systems for integration and optimization purposes through a discrete geometric approach. We focus on systems with symmetries, controllable shape (internal variables), and nonholonomic constraints. Motivated by the abundance of important models from science and engineering with such properties, we propose numerical methods specifically designed to account for their special geometric structure. At the core of the formulation lies a discrete variational principle that respects the structure of the state space and provides a framework for constructing accurate and numerically stable integrators. The dynamics of the systems we study is derived by vertical and horizontal splitting of the variational principle with respect to a nonholonomic connection that encodes the kinematic constraints and symmetries. We formulate a discrete analog of this principle by evaluating the Lagrangian and the connection at selected points along a discretized trajectory and derive discrete momentum equation and discrete reduced Euler-Lagrange equations resulting from the splitting of this principle. A family of nonholonomic integrators that are general, yet simple and easy to implement, are then obtained and applied to two examples-the steered robotic car and the snakeboard. Their numerical advantages are confirmed through comparisons with standard methods.
    Mathematics Subject Classification: Primary: 58F15, 58F17; Secondary: 53C35.

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