In mathematics and classical mechanics, canonical coordinates are sets of coordinates on phase space which can be used to describe a physical system at any given point in time. Canonical coordinates are used in the Hamiltonian formulation of classical mechanics. A closely related concept also appears in quantum mechanics; see the Stone–von Neumann theorem and canonical commutation relations for details.
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As Hamiltonian mechanics is generalized by symplectic geometry and canonical transformations are generalized by contact transformations, so the 19th century definition of canonical coordinates in classical mechanics may be generalized to a more abstract 20th century definition of coordinates on the cotangent bundle of a manifold (the mathematical notion of phase space).