An old and debated problem in Mechanics concerns the capacity of finite dimensional Lagrangian systems to describe dissipation phenomena. It is true that Helmholtz conditions determine not-always verifiable conditions establishing when a system of n second-order ordinary differential equations in normal form (nODEs) be the Lagrange equations deriving from an nth dimensional Lagrangian. However, it is also true that one could conjecture that, given nODEs it is possible to find a (n+k)th dimensional Lagrangian such that the evolution of suitably chosen n Lagrangian parameters allows for the approximation of the solutions of the nODEs. In fact, while it is well known that the ordinary differential equations (ODEs) usually introduced for describing some dissipation phenomena do not verify Helmholtz conditions, in this paper, we give some preliminary evidence for a positive answer to the conjecture that a dissipative system having n degrees of freedom (DOFs) can be approximated, in a finite time interval and in a suitable norm, by an extended Lagrangian system, having a greater number of DOFs. The theoretical foundation necessary to formulate such a conjecture is here laid and three different examples of extended Lagrangians are shown. Finally, we give some computational results, which encourage to deepen the study of the theoretical aspects of the problem.
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