Inelastic collisions of three particles on a line as a two-dimensional billiard

Peter Constantin, Elizabeth Grossman, Muhittin Mungan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


We study the inelastic collisions of three particles on a line. We show that this system is a two dimensional billiard in a semi-enclosed space with unconventional reflection laws. Using this geometric language, we describe completely the dynamics of this system. We find that the asymptotic behavior changes when the coefficient of restitution becomes smaller than a critical value rc. For r >rc, the system can be understood in terms of a conventional billiard in an infinite wedge. For r ≤ rc, this is no longer true and the asymptotic behavior is richer. We also investigate the question of triple collisions and find that they are regularizable only for certain values of r.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-420
Number of pages12
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 1 1995
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics


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