Simple harmonic motion
Overview

Simple harmonic motion can serve as a mathematical model
Mathematical model
A mathematical model is a description of a system using mathematical concepts and language. The process of developing a mathematical model is termed mathematical modeling. Mathematical models are used not only in the natural sciences and engineering disciplines A mathematical model is a...

of a variety of motions, such as the oscillation of a spring. Additionally, other phenomena can be approximated by simple harmonic motion, including the motion of a simple pendulum
Pendulum
A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely. When a pendulum is displaced from its resting equilibrium position, it is subject to a restoring force due to gravity that will accelerate it back toward the equilibrium position...

and molecular vibration
Molecular vibration
A molecular vibration occurs when atoms in a molecule are in periodic motion while the molecule as a whole has constant translational and rotational motion...

.

Simple harmonic motion provides the basis of the characterization of more complicated motions through the techniques of Fourier analysis.
A simple harmonic oscillator
Harmonic oscillator
In classical mechanics, a harmonic oscillator is a system that, when displaced from its equilibrium position, experiences a restoring force, F, proportional to the displacement, x: \vec F = -k \vec x \, where k is a positive constant....

is attached to the spring, and the other end of the spring is connected to a rigid support such as a wall.
Encyclopedia
Simple harmonic motion can serve as a mathematical model
Mathematical model
A mathematical model is a description of a system using mathematical concepts and language. The process of developing a mathematical model is termed mathematical modeling. Mathematical models are used not only in the natural sciences and engineering disciplines A mathematical model is a...

of a variety of motions, such as the oscillation of a spring. Additionally, other phenomena can be approximated by simple harmonic motion, including the motion of a simple pendulum
Pendulum
A pendulum is a weight suspended from a pivot so that it can swing freely. When a pendulum is displaced from its resting equilibrium position, it is subject to a restoring force due to gravity that will accelerate it back toward the equilibrium position...

and molecular vibration
Molecular vibration
A molecular vibration occurs when atoms in a molecule are in periodic motion while the molecule as a whole has constant translational and rotational motion...

.

Simple harmonic motion provides the basis of the characterization of more complicated motions through the techniques of Fourier analysis.

## Introduction

A simple harmonic oscillator
Harmonic oscillator
In classical mechanics, a harmonic oscillator is a system that, when displaced from its equilibrium position, experiences a restoring force, F, proportional to the displacement, x: \vec F = -k \vec x \, where k is a positive constant....

is attached to the spring, and the other end of the spring is connected to a rigid support such as a wall. If the system is left at rest at the equilibrium
Mechanical equilibrium
A standard definition of static equilibrium is:This is a strict definition, and often the term "static equilibrium" is used in a more relaxed manner interchangeably with "mechanical equilibrium", as defined next....

position then there is no net force
Force
In physics, a force is any influence that causes an object to undergo a change in speed, a change in direction, or a change in shape. In other words, a force is that which can cause an object with mass to change its velocity , i.e., to accelerate, or which can cause a flexible object to deform...

acting on the mass. However, if the mass is displaced from the equilibrium position,a restoring elastic
Elasticity (physics)
In physics, elasticity is the physical property of a material that returns to its original shape after the stress that made it deform or distort is removed. The relative amount of deformation is called the strain....

force which obeys Hooke's law
Hooke's law
In mechanics, and physics, Hooke's law of elasticity is an approximation that states that the extension of a spring is in direct proportion with the load applied to it. Many materials obey this law as long as the load does not exceed the material's elastic limit. Materials for which Hooke's law...

is exerted by the spring.

Mathematically, the restoring force F is given by
where F is the restoring elastic force exerted by the spring (in SI
International System of Units
The International System of Units is the modern form of the metric system and is generally a system of units of measurement devised around seven base units and the convenience of the number ten. The older metric system included several groups of units...

units: N), k is the spring constant
Hooke's law
In mechanics, and physics, Hooke's law of elasticity is an approximation that states that the extension of a spring is in direct proportion with the load applied to it. Many materials obey this law as long as the load does not exceed the material's elastic limit. Materials for which Hooke's law...

(N·m−1), and x is the displacement
Displacement (vector)
A displacement is the shortest distance from the initial to the final position of a point P. Thus, it is the length of an imaginary straight path, typically distinct from the path actually travelled by P...

from the equilibrium position (in m).

For any simple harmonic oscillator:
• When the system is displaced from its equilibrium position, a restoring force which obeys Hooke's law tends to restore the system to equilibrium.

Once the mass is displaced from its equilibrium position, it experiences a net restoring force. As a result, it accelerates
Acceleration
In physics, acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time. In one dimension, acceleration is the rate at which something speeds up or slows down. However, since velocity is a vector, acceleration describes the rate of change of both the magnitude and the direction of velocity. ...

and starts going back to the equilibrium position. When the mass moves closer to the equilibrium position, the restoring force decreases. At the equilibrium position, the net restoring force vanishes. However, at x = 0, the momentum
Momentum
In classical mechanics, linear momentum or translational momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object...

of the mass does not vanish due to the impulse of the restoring force that has acted on it. Therefore, the mass continues past the equilibrium position, compressing the spring. A net restoring force then tends to slow it down, until its velocity
Velocity
In physics, velocity is speed in a given direction. Speed describes only how fast an object is moving, whereas velocity gives both the speed and direction of the object's motion. To have a constant velocity, an object must have a constant speed and motion in a constant direction. Constant ...

vanishes, whereby it will attempt to reach equilibrium position again

As long as the system has no energy
Energy
In physics, energy is an indirectly observed quantity. It is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on other physical systems...

loss, the mass will continue to oscillate. Thus, simple harmonic motion is a type of periodic
Frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...

motion.

## Dynamics of simple harmonic motion

For one-dimensional simple harmonic motion, the equation of motion, which is a second-order linear ordinary differential equation
Ordinary differential equation
In mathematics, an ordinary differential equation is a relation that contains functions of only one independent variable, and one or more of their derivatives with respect to that variable....

with constant coefficients, could be obtained by means of Newton's second law and Hooke's law
Hooke's law
In mechanics, and physics, Hooke's law of elasticity is an approximation that states that the extension of a spring is in direct proportion with the load applied to it. Many materials obey this law as long as the load does not exceed the material's elastic limit. Materials for which Hooke's law...

.

where m is the inertial mass of the oscillating body, x is its displacement
Displacement (vector)
A displacement is the shortest distance from the initial to the final position of a point P. Thus, it is the length of an imaginary straight path, typically distinct from the path actually travelled by P...

from the equilibrium
Mechanical equilibrium
A standard definition of static equilibrium is:This is a strict definition, and often the term "static equilibrium" is used in a more relaxed manner interchangeably with "mechanical equilibrium", as defined next....

(or mean) position, and k is the spring constant.

Therefore,

Solving the differential equation above, a solution which is a sinusoidal function
Sine wave
The sine wave or sinusoid is a mathematical function that describes a smooth repetitive oscillation. It occurs often in pure mathematics, as well as physics, signal processing, electrical engineering and many other fields...

is obtained.
where
In the solution, c1 and c2 are two constants determined by the initial conditions, and the origin is set to be the equilibrium position. Each of these constants carries a physical meaning of the motion: A is the amplitude (maximum displacement from the equilibrium position) , is the angular frequency
Angular frequency
In physics, angular frequency ω is a scalar measure of rotation rate. Angular frequency is the magnitude of the vector quantity angular velocity...

, and φ is the phase.

Using the techniques of differential calculus
Differential calculus
In mathematics, differential calculus is a subfield of calculus concerned with the study of the rates at which quantities change. It is one of the two traditional divisions of calculus, the other being integral calculus....

, the velocity
Velocity
In physics, velocity is speed in a given direction. Speed describes only how fast an object is moving, whereas velocity gives both the speed and direction of the object's motion. To have a constant velocity, an object must have a constant speed and motion in a constant direction. Constant ...

and acceleration
Acceleration
In physics, acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time. In one dimension, acceleration is the rate at which something speeds up or slows down. However, since velocity is a vector, acceleration describes the rate of change of both the magnitude and the direction of velocity. ...

as a function of time can be found:
Acceleration can also be expressed as a function of displacement:

Then since ,

and since where T is the time period,

These equations demonstrate that the simple harmonic motion is isochronous
Isochronous
Isochronous : From Greek iso, equal + chronos, time. It literally means regularly, or at equal time intervals. In general English language, it refers to something that occurs at a regular interval, of the same duration; as opposed to synchronous which refers to more than one thing happening at the...

(the period and frequency are independent of the amplitude and the initial phase of the motion).

## Energy of simple harmonic motion

The kinetic energy
Kinetic energy
The kinetic energy of an object is the energy which it possesses due to its motion.It is defined as the work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to its stated velocity. Having gained this energy during its acceleration, the body maintains this kinetic energy unless its speed changes...

K of the system at time t is
and the potential energy
Potential energy
In physics, potential energy is the energy stored in a body or in a system due to its position in a force field or due to its configuration. The SI unit of measure for energy and work is the Joule...

is
The total mechanical energy
Mechanical energy
In physics, mechanical energy is the sum of potential energy and kinetic energy present in the components of a mechanical system. It is the energy associated with the motion and position of an object. The law of conservation of energy states that in an isolated system that is only subject to...

of the system therefore has the constant value

## Examples

The following physical systems are some examples of simple harmonic oscillator
Harmonic oscillator
In classical mechanics, a harmonic oscillator is a system that, when displaced from its equilibrium position, experiences a restoring force, F, proportional to the displacement, x: \vec F = -k \vec x \, where k is a positive constant....

.

### Mass on a spring

A mass m attached to a spring of spring constant k exhibits simple harmonic motion in space. The equation
shows that the period of oscillation is independent of both the amplitude and gravitational acceleration.

### Uniform circular motion

Simple harmonic motion can in some cases be considered to be the one-dimensional projection
Projection (mathematics)
Generally speaking, in mathematics, a projection is a mapping of a set which is idempotent, which means that a projection is equal to its composition with itself. A projection may also refer to a mapping which has a left inverse. Bot notions are strongly related, as follows...

of uniform circular motion
Uniform circular motion
In physics, uniform circular motion describes the motion of a body traversing a circular path at constant speed. The distance of the body from the axis of rotation remains constant at all times. Though the body's speed is constant, its velocity is not constant: velocity, a vector quantity, depends...

. If an object moves with angular velocity
Angular velocity
In physics, the angular velocity is a vector quantity which specifies the angular speed of an object and the axis about which the object is rotating. The SI unit of angular velocity is radians per second, although it may be measured in other units such as degrees per second, revolutions per...

ω around a circle of radius r centered at the origin
Origin (mathematics)
In mathematics, the origin of a Euclidean space is a special point, usually denoted by the letter O, used as a fixed point of reference for the geometry of the surrounding space. In a Cartesian coordinate system, the origin is the point where the axes of the system intersect...

of the x-y plane, then its motion along each coordinate is simple harmonic motion with amplitude r and angular frequency ω.

### Mass on a simple pendulum

In the small-angle approximation, the motion of a simple pendulum is approximated by simple harmonic motion. The period of a mass attached to a string of length with gravitational acceleration g is given by

This shows that the period of oscillation is independent of the amplitude and mass of the pendulum but not the acceleration due to gravity (g), therefore a pendulum of the same length on the Moon would swing more slowly due to the Moon's lower gravitational acceleration.

This approximation is accurate only in small angles because of the expression for angular acceleration
Angular acceleration
Angular acceleration is the rate of change of angular velocity over time. In SI units, it is measured in radians per second squared , and is usually denoted by the Greek letter alpha .- Mathematical definition :...

being proportional to the sine of position:
where I is the moment of inertia
Moment of inertia
In classical mechanics, moment of inertia, also called mass moment of inertia, rotational inertia, polar moment of inertia of mass, or the angular mass, is a measure of an object's resistance to changes to its rotation. It is the inertia of a rotating body with respect to its rotation...

. When θ is small, and therefore the expression becomes
which makes angular acceleration directly proportional to θ, satisfying the definition of simple harmonic motion.

• Isochronous
Isochronous
Isochronous : From Greek iso, equal + chronos, time. It literally means regularly, or at equal time intervals. In general English language, it refers to something that occurs at a regular interval, of the same duration; as opposed to synchronous which refers to more than one thing happening at the...

• Uniform circular motion
Uniform circular motion
In physics, uniform circular motion describes the motion of a body traversing a circular path at constant speed. The distance of the body from the axis of rotation remains constant at all times. Though the body's speed is constant, its velocity is not constant: velocity, a vector quantity, depends...

• Complex harmonic motion
Complex harmonic motion
Complex harmonic motion occurs when a number of simple harmonic motions are combined.Chords in music are an example of this phenomenon.Any continuous periodic function can be represented as a complex harmonic motion using its fourier series....

• Damping
Damping
In physics, damping is any effect that tends to reduce the amplitude of oscillations in an oscillatory system, particularly the harmonic oscillator.In mechanics, friction is one such damping effect...

• Harmonic oscillator
Harmonic oscillator
In classical mechanics, a harmonic oscillator is a system that, when displaced from its equilibrium position, experiences a restoring force, F, proportional to the displacement, x: \vec F = -k \vec x \, where k is a positive constant....