This paper presents a comparative theoretical and numerical study on the efficiency of several numerical methods for the dynamic analysis of constrained mechanical systems, also called in the literature multibody systems. This comparative study has been performed between methods based on the use of “reference point” coordinates and those based on the use of “natural” coordinates. This study embraces different possibilities to formulate the differential equations of motion. The relative efficiency of the resulting algorithms has been analyzed theoretically in terms of the number of multiplications needed to evaluate the mechanism accelerations. This efficiency has also been studied implementing the methods into computer codes and testing them with different examples. Conclusions on the relative efficiency of the methods are finally presented.

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