Adaptive Runge–Kutta integration for stiff systems: Comparing Nose and Nose–Hoover dynamics for the harmonic oscillator

William Graham Hoover
Ruby Valley Research Institute, Highway Contract 60, Box 601, Ruby Valley, Nevada 89833

Julien Clinton Sprott
Department of Physics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706

Carol Griswold Hoover
Ruby Valley Research Institute, Highway Contract 60, Box 601, Ruby Valley, Nevada 89833

(Received 26 February 2016; accepted 13 July 2016)

We describe the application of adaptive (variable time step) integrators to stiff differential equations encountered in many applications. Linear harmonic oscillators subject to nonlinear thermal can exhibit either stiff or smooth dynamics. Two closely related examples, Nose’s dynamics and Nose–Hoover dynamics, are both based on Hamiltonian mechanics and generate microstates consistent with Gibbs’ canonical ensemble. Nose’s dynamics is stiff and can present severe numerical difficulties. Nose–Hoover dynamics, although it follows exactly the same trajectory, is smooth and relatively trouble-free. We emphasize the power of adaptive integrators to resolve stiff problems such as the Nose dynamics for the harmonic oscillator. The solutions also illustrate the power of computer graphics to enrich numerical solutions.

Ref: W. G. Hoover, J. C. Sprott, American Journal of Physics 86, 786-794 (2016)

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