A word is in order about the definition of s, which we’ve described as the total, equivalent distance traveled. First, by total distance we mean that s is not measured relative to the bunch center or a fiducial particle. It is entirely a property of the individual particle and its path through the accelerator.
To explain what we mean by equivalent distance, note that the relationship between s and arrival time t at the observation point is, for each particle, s = βct, where βc is the instantaneous velocity of the particle. Whenever a particle’s velocity changes, elegant recomputes s to ensure that this relationship holds. s is thus the “equivalent” distance the particle would have traveled at the present velocity to arrive at the observation point at the given time. This book-keeping is required because elegant was originally a matrix-only code using s as the longitudinal coordinate.
Users should keep the meaning of s in mind when viewing statistics for s, for example, in the sigma or watch point output files. A quantity like Ss is literally the rms spread in s. It is not defined as σt∕(⟨β⟩c). A nonrelativistic beam with velocity spread will show no change in Ss in a drift space, because the distance traveled is the same for all particles.