Time integration errors and some new functionals for the dynamics of a free mass

Lorenzo Bardella, Angelo Carini, and Francesco Genna

Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Brescia, Via Branze, 3825123, Brescia, Italy


We study the numerical integration of the Poisson second-order ordinary differential equation which describes, for instance, the dynamics of a free mass. Classical integration algorithms, when applied to such an equation, furnish solutions affected by a significant "drift" error, apparently not studied so far. In the first part of this work we define measures of such a drift. We then proceed to illustrate how to construct both classical and extended functionals for the equation of motion of a free mass with given initial conditions. These tools allow both the derivation of new variationally-based time integration algorithms for this problem, and, in some cases, the theoretical isolation of the source of the drift. While we prove that this particular error is unavoidable in any algorithmic solution of this problem, we also provide some new time integration algorithms, extensions at little added cost of classical methods, which permit to substantially improve numerical predictions.

Author Keywords: Variational principles; Dynamics; Time integration methods