Symplectic and energy-conserving algorithms for solving magnetic field trajectories. Academic Article uri icon


  • The exponential splitting of the classical evolution operator yields symplectic integrators if the canonical Hamiltonian is separable. Similar splitting of the noncanonical evolution operator for a charged particle in a magnetic field produces exact energy-conserving algorithms. The latter algorithms evaluate the magnetic field directly with no need of a vector potential and are more stable with far less phase errors than symplectic integrators. For a combined electric and magnetic field, these algorithms from splitting the noncanonical evolution operator are neither fully symplectic nor exactly energy conserving, yet they behave exactly like symplectic algorithms in having qualitatively correct trajectories and bounded periodic energy errors. This work shows that exponential-splitting algorithms of any order for solving particle trajectories in a general electric and magnetic field can be systematically derived by use of the angular momentum operator of quantum mechanics. The use of operator analysis in this work fully comprehends the intertwining interaction between electric and magnetic forces and makes possible the derivation of highly nontrivial integrators.

published proceedings

  • Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys

author list (cited authors)

  • Chin, S. A.

citation count

  • 44

complete list of authors

  • Chin, Siu A

publication date

  • June 2008