Fr.: principe de d'Alembert
The statement that a moving body can be brought to a → static equilibrium by applying an imaginary inertia force of the same magnitude as that of the accelerating force but in the opposite direction. More specifically, when a body of mass m is moving with a uniform acceleration a under the action of an external force F, we can write: F = m . a, according to Newton's second law. This equation can also be written as: F - ma = 0. Therefore, by applying the force -ma, the body will be considered in equilibrium as the sum of all forces acting on it is zero. Such equilibrium is called → dynamic equilibrium. Owing to this principle, dynamical problems can be treated as if they were statical.
Named after the French mathematician and philosopher Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1717-1783), who introduced the principle in his Traité de dynamique (1743).