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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

MATH3355 Hamiltonian Systems

15 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Vincent Caudrelier

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20


MATH2650Calculus of Variations

This module is mutually exclusive with

MATH5356MAdvanced Hamiltonian Systems

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The Hamiltonian formulation of dynamics is the mathematically most beautiful form of mechanics and (in fact) the stepping stone to quantum mechanics. Hamiltonian systems are conservative dynamical systems with a very interesting algebraic structure in the guise of the Poisson bracket. Hamilton's equations are invariant under a very wide class of transformation (the canonical transformations), and this leads to a number of powerful solution techniques, developed in the nineteenth century. The subject received a boost in the late twentieth century, with the development of integrable systems, which gave many new examples and techniques.


1. Derive Lagrangian and Hamiltonian functions and write Hamilton's equations for simple mechanical systems.
2. Use phase portraits and Poincare maps to analyse simple Hamiltonian systems.
3. Calculate Poisson brackets and first integrals.
4. Use generating functions for canonical transformations and solve simple cases of the Hamilton-Jacobi equation.
5. To use Liouville's Theorem on complete integrability.

Learning outcomes
The aim of this module is to develop the theory of Hamiltonian systems, Poisson brackets and canonical transformations. After discussing some general algebraic and geometric properties, emphasis will be on complete integrability, developing a number of techniques for solving Hamilton's equations.


1. Review of 'pre-Hamiltonian' dynamics: Newtonian and Lagrangian dynamics. Hamilton's principle.
Legendre's transformation and the canonical equations of motion.
2. Introduction to Hamiltonian dynamics. Simple geometric properties. Phase portraits and Poincare maps.
Poisson brackets. First integrals and symmetries.
3. Canonical transformations and generating functions. The Hamilton-Jacobi equation. Separation of variables. Complete integrability.
4. Near integrable systems. Area preserving maps.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours117.00
Total Contact hours33.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Regular examples sheets

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 30 mins100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/09/2019


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