Journal of Applied Mathematics
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 320276, 13 pages
Research Article

A Differential Algebraic Method to Approximate Nonsmooth Mechanical Systems by Ordinary Differential Equations

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kyushu University, Motooka 744, Nishi-ku, Fukuoka 819-0395, Japan

Received 28 September 2012; Revised 1 April 2013; Accepted 3 April 2013

Academic Editor: Jitao Sun

Copyright © 2013 Xiaogang Xiong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Nonsmooth mechanical systems, which are mechanical systems involving dry friction and rigid unilateral contact, are usually described as differential inclusions (DIs), that is, differential equations involving discontinuities. Those DIs may be approximated by ordinary differential equations (ODEs) by simply smoothing the discontinuities. Such approximations, however, can produce unrealistic behaviors because the discontinuous natures of the original DIs are lost. This paper presents a new algebraic procedure to approximate DIs describing nonsmooth mechanical systems by ODEs with preserving the discontinuities. The procedure is based on the fact that the DIs can be approximated by differential algebraic inclusions (DAIs), and thus they can be equivalently rewritten as ODEs. The procedure is illustrated by some examples of nonsmooth mechanical systems with simulation results obtained by the fourth-order Runge-Kutta method.