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Convergence Of Hamiltonian Systems To Billiards

We examine in detail a physically natural and general scheme for gradually deforming a Hamiltonian to its corresponding billiard, as a certain parameter k varies from one to infinity. We apply this limiting process to a class of Hamiltonians with homogeneous potential-energy functions and further investigate the extent to which the limiting billiards inherit properties from the corresponding sequences of Hamiltonians. The results are mixed. Using theorems of Yoshida for the case of two degrees of freedom, we prove a general theorem establishing the "inheritability" of stability properties of certain orbits. This result follows naturally from the convergence of the traces of appropriate monodromy matrices to the billiard analog. However, in spite of the close analogy between the concepts of integrability for Hamiltonian systems and billiards, integrability properties of Hamiltonians in a sequence are not necessarily inherited by the limiting billiard, as we show by example. In addition to rigorous results, we include numerical examples of certain interesting cases, along with computer simulations.

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