Lagrange's equations are a system of n second-order ordinary differential equations in the time, the generalized coordinates, the generalized velocities, and the generalized accelerations. Trajectories are determined by the coordinates and the velocities at a moment.
Hamilton's equations specify the dynamics as a system of first-order ordinary differential equations in the time, the generalized coordinates, and the conjugate momenta. Phase-space trajectories are determined by an initial point in phase space at a moment.
The Hamiltonian formulation and the Lagrangian formulation are equivalent in that equivalent initial conditions produce the same configuration path.
If there is a symmetry of the problem that is naturally expressed as a cyclic coordinate, then the conjugate momentum is conserved. In the Hamiltonian formulation, such a symmetry naturally results in the reduction of the dimension of the phase space of the difficult part of the problem. If there are enough symmetries, then the problem of determining the time evolution may be reduced to evaluation of definite integrals (reduced to quadratures).
Systems without enough symmetries to be reducible to quadratures may be effectively studied with the surface of section technique. This is particularly advantageous in systems for which the reduced problem has two degrees of freedom or has one degree of freedom with explicit periodic time dependence.
Surfaces of section reveal tremendous structure in the phase space. There are chaotic zones and islands of regular behavior. There are interesting transitions as parameters are varied between mostly regular motion and mostly chaotic motion.
Chaotic trajectories exhibit sensitive dependence on initial conditions, separating exponentially from nearby trajectories. Regular trajectories do not show such sensitivity. Curiously, chaotic trajectories are distinguished both by the dimension of the space they explore and by their exponential divergence.
The time evolution of a 2n-dimensional region in phase space preserves the volume. Hamiltonian flow is ``incompressible'' flow of the ``phase fluid.''
Surfaces of section for two-degree-of-freedom systems and for periodically driven one-degree-of-freedom systems are area preserving. Abstract area-preserving maps of a phase plane onto itself show the same division of the phase space into chaotic and regular regions as surfaces of section generated by dynamical systems. They also show transitions to large-scale chaos.