Institute for Mathematical Sciences

Preprint ims96-1b

P. Boyland and C. Gole
Dynamical Stability in Lagrangian Systems

Abstract: This paper surveys various results concerning stability for the dynamics of Lagrangian (or Hamiltonian) systems on compact manifolds. The main, positive results state, roughly, that if the configuration manifold carries a hyperbolic metric, \ie a metric of constant negative curvature, then the dynamics of the geodesic flow persists in the Euler-Lagrange flows of a large class of time-periodic Lagrangian systems. This class contains all time-periodic mechanical systems on such manifolds. Many of the results on Lagrangian systems also hold for twist maps on the cotangent bundle of hyperbolic manifolds. We also present a new stability result for autonomous Lagrangian systems on the two torus which shows, among other things, that there are minimizers of all rotation directions. However, in contrast to the previously known \cite{hedlund} case of just a metric, the result allows the possibility of gaps in the speed spectrum of minimizers. Our negative result is an example of an autonomous mechanical Lagrangian system on the two-torus in which this gap actually occurs. The same system also gives us an example of a Euler-Lagrange minimizer which is not a Jacobi minimizer on its energy level.
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