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On the Interpretation of the Lagrange Multipliers in the Constraint Formulation of Contact Problems; or Why Are Some Multipliers Always Zero?

[+] Author Affiliations
A. L. Schwab

Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Paper No. DETC2014-34709, pp. V006T10A022; 5 pages
  • ASME 2014 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 6: 10th International Conference on Multibody Systems, Nonlinear Dynamics, and Control
  • Buffalo, New York, USA, August 17–20, 2014
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4639-1
  • Copyright © 2014 by ASME


One method for modeling idealized contact between two bodies in mechanical system is based on the constraint approach, where Lagrange multipiers are introduced, which serve as constraint forces. In the usage of this formulation, there exists a linear dependancy between the Lagrange multipliers. Moreover, it has been observed that some Lagrange multipliers are always identical to zero. This sort of contradicts the basic notion that Lagrange multipliers in mechanical systems act as constraint forces which, when constraints are violated, push the system back in the desired configuration. In this paper it will be shown, by theory and example, that the above-mentioned linear dependency of the Lagrange multipliers, together with specific entries in the Jacobian of the constraint equations, results in some Lagrange multipliers being identical to zero.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME



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