Hi, I am new around here. Hope you don't mind me beginning my stay with a question.

1. The Problem

Suppose masses $\displaystyle m_{1}, m_{2}, m_{3}, m_{4}$ are located at positions $\displaystyle x_{1}, x_{2}, x_{3}, x_{4}$ in a line and connected by springs with constants $\displaystyle k_{12}, k_{23}, k_{34}$ whose natural lengths of extension are $\displaystyle l_{12}, l_{23}, l_{34}$.

Let $\displaystyle f_{1}, f_{2}, f_{3}, f_{4}$ denote the rightward forces on the masses, e.g.,

$\displaystyle f_{1} = k_{12}(x_{2} - x_{1} - l_{12})$

a) Write the 4 X 4 matrix equation relating the column vectors $\displaystyle f $ and $\displaystyle x $. Let $\displaystyle K $ denote the matrix in this equation.

2. Attempt at solution

I treat this as a equilibrium problem. I imagine the masses being pulled to the right and held in place. Then I find the forces neccessary to keep them in that new position. I'm not sure that this is what the problem asks for, but I don't want to just post the question

$\displaystyle f_{2} = k_{23}(x_{3} - x_{2} - l_{23}) - f_{1}$

$\displaystyle f_{3} = k_{34}(x_{4} - x_{3} - l_{34}) - (f_{1} + f_{2})$

$\displaystyle f_{4} = f_{1} + f_{2} + f_{3}$

I then expand and simplify each and expression.

I then write these equations in the form:

$\displaystyle

\textbf{f} = \textbf{K}\textbf{x} + \textbf{c}

$

$\displaystyle

\left[\begin{array}[pos]{c}

f_{1} \\

f_{2} \\

f_{3} \\

f_{4} \\

\end{array}\right] $

$\displaystyle

=

\left[\begin{array}[pos]{cccc}

-k_{12} & k_{12} & 0 & 0 \\

k_{12} & (-k_{12}-k_{23}) & k_{23} & 0 \\

0 & k_{23} &(-k_{23}-k_{34}) & k_{34} \\

0 & 0 &-k_{34} & k_{34}\\

\end{array}\right] $

$\displaystyle

\left[\begin{array}[pos]{c}

x_{1} \\

x_{2} \\

x_{3} \\

x_{4} \\

\end{array}\right]$

$\displaystyle

+

\left[\begin{array}[pos]{c}

-k_{12}l_{12} \\

-k_{23}l_{23} + k_{12}l_{12} \\

-k_{34}l_{34} + k_{23}l_{23} \\

-k_{34}l_{34} \\

\end{array}\right]

$

Sorry about the formatting of matrices, I get too long string errors when I tried writing them next to eachother..

Somehow I feel that the masses should be included in the party as well...

Any suggestions are appreciated, thanks.