A general formulation of piecewise linear systems with discontinuous force elements is provided in this paper. It has been demonstrated that this class of nonlinear systems is of great importance due to their ability to accurately model numerous scientific and engineering phenomena. Additionally, it is shown that this class of nonlinear systems can demonstrate a wide spectrum of nonlinear motions and in fact, the phenomenon of weak chaos is observed in a mechanical assembly for the first time.

Despite such importance, efficient methods for fast and accurate evaluation of piecewise linear systems’ responses are lacking and the methods of the literature are either incompatible, very slow, very inaccurate, or bear a combination of the aforementioned deficiencies. To overcome this shortcoming, a novel symbolic-numeric method is presented in this paper that is able to obtain the analytical response of piecewise linear systems with discontinuous elements in an efficient manner. Contrary to other efficient methods that are based on stationary steady state dynamics, this method will not experience failure upon the occurrence of complex motion and is able to capture the entirety of the dynamics.

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