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2: Forced Oscillation and Resonance

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    The forced oscillation problem will be crucial to our understanding of wave phenomena. Complex exponentials are even more useful for the discussion of damping and forced oscillations. They will help us to discuss forced oscillations without getting lost in algebra.


    In this chapter, we apply the tools of complex exponentials and time translation invariance to deal with damped oscillation and the important physical phenomenon of resonance in single oscillators.

    1. We set up and solve (using complex exponentials) the equation of motion for a damped harmonic oscillator in the overdamped, underdamped and critically damped regions.
    2. We set up the equation of motion for the damped and forced harmonic oscillator.
    3. We study the solution, which exhibits a resonance when the forcing frequency equals the free oscillation frequency of the corresponding undamped oscillator.
    4. We study in detail a specific system of a mass on a spring in a viscous fluid. We give a physical explanation of the phase relation between the forcing term and the damping.

    This page titled 2: Forced Oscillation and Resonance is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Howard Georgi via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.