Oliver O’Reilly of UC Berkley, joins us to discuss the writing and impact of his latest book, the 2nd edition of Intermediate Dynamics for Engineers: Newton-Euler and Lagrangian Mechanics.
An important book for dynamics classes across a range of engineering programs, this textbook provides a clear introduction to the kinematics and kinetics of particles and rigid bodies. One of the goals of the book is to teach students how to clearly formulate the equations of motion for these mechanical systems, and this is just what Professor O’Reilly sets out to do in this new edition as well.
This book is now available on the new Higher Education from Cambridge University Press website. Find out more here.
The second edition has been inspired by further teaching notes that Professor O’Reilly uses for two courses on Langrangian and Newton-Euler dynamics. Writing any textbook can be difficult, but in the end yields fortuitous results. O’Reilly himself finds that the process of writing a textbook can often be helpful for instruction; building the framework, creating illustrations, crafting examples and assignments; and not to mention the devotion to mastery of the subject matter. All these and more go on to help produce a refined book that provides students with the necessary knowledge to pass and indeed excel in a given topic.
But what of length, and breadth of content? “In writing any book,” says Professor O’Reilly, “it’s often harder to resist the temptation to include more material…the book in its present form is self-contained and consistent….writing this second edition allowed me to include new material from my research that clarified topics [from the first edition].”
Faculty will often ask the important question of what is new to this edition that wasn’t in the last. Expanding the book to include O’Reilly’s latest course notes was the starting point, but more specifically, he wanted to promote the differential geometric methods and ideas about constraint forces and moments that are used in the book to a wider audience. There are also new discussions of coordinate singularities, gimbal lock, and constraint forces and constraint moments.
But at the core of it, why is this textbook so important? For O’Reilly, the content of this book and the applications these topics are used for proves absolutely useful across a wide range of fields in Engineering, preparing students for a variety of careers they may enter into. It is also one of the only textbooks, if not the only, that contains an explicit explanation of why the equations of motion for systems of particles and rigid bodies developed using Lagrange’s equations of motion and the Newton-Euler balance laws are equivalent.
This textbook is one that underpins the fact that it has taken over 200 years of research since the publishing of original works to develop an understanding of why the Lagrangian and Newton-Euler approaches are equivalent. It is one that will hopefully demonstrate to students the lasting and important impact and legacies of Euler, Lagrange, and Newton, for years to come.
This book is now available on the new Higher Education from Cambridge University Press website, which allows for institutional access to individual and collections of textbooks, as well as individual purchases. Take a look at the About section on the new functionality offered by the website for textbooks. You can also request examination copies of this textbook via the site.