The theoretical development of the laws of motion of bodies is a problem of such interest and importance, that it has engaged the attention of all the most eminent mathematicians, since the invention of dynamics as a mathematical science by Galileo, and especially since the wonderful extension which was given to that science by Newton. Among the successors of those illustrious men, Lagrange has perhaps done more than any other analyst, to give extent and harmony to such deductive researches, by showing that the most varied consequences respecting the motions of systems of bodies may be derived from one radical formula; the beauty of the method so suiting the dignity of the results, as to make of his great work a kind of scientific poem. But the science of force, or of power acting by law in space and time, has undergone already another revolution, and has become already more dynamic, by having almost dismissed the conceptions of solidity and cohesion, and those other material ties, or geometrically imaginable conditions, which Lagrange so happily reasoned on, and by tending more and more to resolve all connexions and actions of bodies into attractions and repulsions of points: and while the science is advancing thus in one direction by the improvement of physical views, it may advance in another direction also by the invention of mathematical methods. And the method proposed in the present essay, for the deductive study of the motions of attracting or repelling systems, will perhaps be received with indulgence, as an attempt to assist in carrying forward so high an inquiry. In the methods commonly employed, the determination of the motion of a free point in space, under the influence of accelerating forces, depends on the integration of three equations in ordinary differentials of the second order; and the determination of the motions of a system of free points, attracting or repelling one another, depends on the integration of a system of such equations, in number threefold the number of the attracting or repelling points, unless we previously diminish by unity this latter number, by considering only relative motions. Thus, in the solar system, when we consider only the mutual attractions of the sun and of the ten known planets, the determination of the motions of the latter about the former is reduced, by the usual methods, to the integration of a system of thirty ordinary differential equations of the second order, between the coordinates and the time; or, by a transformation of Lagrange, to the integration of a system of sixty ordinary differential equations of the first order, between the time and the elliptic elements: by which integrations, the thirty varying coordinates, or the sixty varying elements, are to be found as functions of the time. In the method of the present essay, this problem is reduced to the search and differentiation of a single function, which satisfies two partial differential equations of the first order and of the second degree: and every other dynamical problem, respecting the motions of any system, however numerous, of attracting or repelling points, (even if we suppose those points restricted by any conditions of connexion consistent with the law of living force,) is reduced, in like manner, to the study of one central function, of which the form marks out and characterizes the properties of the moving system, and is to be determined by a pair of partial differential equations of the first order, combined with some simple considerations. The difficulty is therefore at least transferred from the integration of many equations of one class to the integration of two of another: and even if it should be thought that no practical facility is gained, yet an intellectual pleasure may result from the reduction of the most complex and, probably., of all researches respecting the forces and motions of body, to the study of one characteristic function, the unfolding of one central relation.