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A cluster of three spins coupled by single-axis anisotropic exchange exhibits classical behaviors ranging from regular motion at low and high energies, to chaotic motion at intermediate energies. A change of variable, taking advantage of the conserved z-angular momentum, combined with a 3-d graphical presentation (described in the Appendix), produce Poincare sections that manifest all symmetries of the system and clearly illustrate the transition to chaos as energy is increased.
The three-spin system has four families of periodic orbits. Linearization around stationary points predicts orbit periods in the low energy (antiferromagnetic) and high energy (ferromagnetic) limits and also determines the stability properties of certain orbits at a special intermediate energy. The energy surface undergoes interesting changes of topology as energy is varied. We describe the similiarities of our three spin system with the Anisotropic Kepler Problem and the Henon-Heiles Hamiltonian. An appendix discusses numerical integration techniques for spin systems.