In order to describe completely the motion of a particle in one plane, only two quantities must be known, say its two rectangular components. Similarly, for a particle moving in space, three independent quantities must be known to describe its motion. A molecule in a rigid body can have three motions of vibration along any of three co-ordinates axis in addition to its three motions of translation. It is thus obvious that in order to completely describe the state of motion of a particle, six independent quantities must be known.

In general, the total number of independent quantities, which must be known for describing completely the state of motion of a body, are called its degrees of freedom.

In general, the total number of independent quantities, which must be known for describing completely the state of motion of a body, are called its degrees of freedom.

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