Springs and oscillations: Basic concepts

We introduced oscillations back in Chapter 3, while discussing sinusoidal waves and their combinations (refer to the section “Using trig functions for animation”). An oscillation is a repeating motion around some central position. Simple examples of oscillating systems include a pendulum and a swing.

Oscillations abound in natural systems, too: trees oscillate under a blowing wind, and floating objects oscillate on the water surface due to passing waves. Man-made mechanisms that include springs involve oscillations. Hence, there is an intuitive association between oscillations and springs; in fact, we will use the terms oscillations and spring-like motion interchangeably. This association is more than ...

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