Lagrangian & Hamiltonian Dynamics (Adv) (MATH3977)


This unit provides a comprehensive treatment of dynamical systems using the mathematically sophisticated framework of Lagrange and Hamilton. This formulation of classical mechanics generalizes elegantly to modern theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. The unit develops dynamical theory from the Principle of Least Action using the calculus of variations. Emphasis is placed on the relation between the symmetry and invariance properties of the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian functions and conservation laws. Coordinate and canonical transformations are introduced to make apparently complicated dynamical problems appear very simple. The unit will also explore connections between geometry and different physical theories beyond classical mechanics.

Students will be expected to solve fully dynamical systems of some complexity including planetary motion and to investigate stability using perturbation analysis. Hamilton-Jacobi theory will be used to elegantly solve problems ranging from geodesics (shortest path between two points) on curved surfaces to relativistic motion in the vicinity of black holes.

This unit is a useful preparation for units in dynamical systems and chaos, and complements units in differential equations, quantum theory and general relativity.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


Three 1 hour lectures and one 1 hour tutorial per week.


One 2 hour exam and assignments and/or quizzes (100%)

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules

Prerequisites and assumed knowledge

Credit average or greater in 12 credit points of Intermediate Mathematics


MATH2904 or MATH2004 or MATH3917

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.