R. Hirota and K. Kimura discovered integrable discretizations of the Euler and the Lagrange tops, given by birational maps. Their method is a specialization to the integrable context of a general discretization scheme introduced by W. Kahan and applicable to any vector field with a quadratic dependence on phase variables. According to a proposal by T. Ratiu, discretizations of Hirota--Kimura type can be considered for numerous integrable systems of classical mechanics. Due to a remarkable and not well understood mechanism, such discretizations seem to inherit the integrability for all algebraically completely integrable systems. We introduce an experimental method for a rigorous study of integrability of such discretizations.
Application of this method to the Hirota--Kimura-type discretization of the Clebsch system leads to the discovery of four functionally independent integrals of motion of this discrete-time system, which turn out to be much more complicated than the integrals of the continuous-time system. Further, we prove that every orbit of the discrete-time Clebsch system lies in an intersection of four quadrics in the six-dimensional phase space. Analogous results hold for the Hirota--Kimura-type discretizations for all commuting flows of the Clebsch system, as well as for the so(4) Euler top.
"On Integrability of Hirota--Kimura-Type Discretizations: Experimental Study of the Discrete Clebsch System." Experiment. Math. 18 (2) 223 - 247, 2009.