This chapter gives a brief overview of Hamiltonian mechanics. The complexity of the Newtonian equations of motion for N interacting bodies led to the development in the late 18th and early 19th centuries of a formalism that reduces these equations to first-order differential equations. This formalism is known as Hamiltonian mechanics. This chapter shows how, given a Lagrangian and having constructed the corresponding Hamiltonian, Hamilton’s equations amount to simply a rewriting of the Euler–Lagrange equations. The feature that makes the Hamiltonian formulation superior is that the dimension of the phase space is double that of the configuration space, so that in addition to point transformations, it is possible to perform more general transformations in order to simplify solving the equations of motion.
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