The German Research Council (DFG) decided 1987 to establish a nationwide five year research project devoted to dynamics of multibody systems. In this project universities and research centers cooperated with the goal to develop a general pur pose multibody system software package. This concept provides the opportunity to use a modular structure of the software, i.e. different multibody formalisms may be combined with different simulation programmes via standardized interfaces. For the DFG project the database RSYST was chosen using standard FORTRAN 77 and an object oriented multibody system datamodel was defined. The project included • research on the fundamentals of the method of multibody systems, • concepts for new formalisms of dynamical analysis, • development of efficient numerical algorithms and • realization of a powerful software package of multibody systems. These goals required an interdisciplinary cooperation between mathematics, compu ter science, mechanics, and control theory. ix X After a rigorous reviewing process the following research institutions participated in the project (under the responsibility of leading scientists): Technical University of Aachen (Prof. G. Sedlacek) Technical University of Darmstadt (Prof. P. Hagedorn) University of Duisburg M. Hiller) (Prof.