The action is the integral of the Lagrangian over time, or the integral of the Lagrangian Density over both time and space.

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Reversing time for a closed system of particles

For a closed system of particles, the lagrangian in classical mechanics is $$L=\sum \frac{1}{2}mv_a^2 - U(\mathbf{r_1},\mathbf{r_2}, \cdots)$$ For an arbitrary position function $x(t)$, to see the ...
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What exactly is the Action? (Learning lagrangian)

I have been trying to wrap my head around lagrangian mechanics but I find some parts confusing. For example, what exactly is action and why is it defined by the Kinetic energy minus the potential ...
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Reformulating a traditional minimization problem as a stationary action problem [on hold]

A famous problem in financial theory is formulated as follows: $$\min_{\mathbf{w}} \sigma^2 \:\:\:\:\:s.t. \:\:\mathbf{w'}\mathbf{1}=1 \:\:\:\: \mathbf{w'}\mathbf{y}=k$$ Where lower case bold faced ...
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Classical trajectories that are not a minimum of the action [duplicate]

Are there physically realizable dynamical systems where the true trajectory is not a minumum action trajectory? Formally, Lagrangian mechanics only requires that the trajectory be an extremum (or ...
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51 views

Derivation of an ordinary, Lagrangian/Hamiltonian and action formulation

I am confused as to how the different formulations in physics are derived. In many fields of physics, we usually begin with an ordinary formulation (e.g Newton's Laws in classical mechanics), and ...
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Hamilton's Principle - achieving Hamilton equations

Consider the action function: $$\mathcal{S}(t)=\int_{t_1}^{t_2}\mathcal{L}(q_i,\dot{q_i},t) dt$$ where $\mathcal{L}$ is the Lagrangian of the system. The Hamiltonian is defined by the following ...
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Does the principle of stationary action always work? [duplicate]

Give some Lagrangian we use the principle of stationary action to find the desired euqations of motion for something (e.g. a field). A lot of modern physics seems to be based on the principle of ...
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How does one express a Lagrangian and Action in the language of forms?

In Lipschitzs Classical Mechanics a Lagrangian is defined as: $L(q,q',t)$ for some trajectory $q(t)$ of a particle And the action is defined as: $S:=\int^a_b L(q,q',t) dt$ How does one ...
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Does Conformal Invariance of the Polyakov Action in Conformal Gauge imply Conformal Invariance of the Pre-gauge-fixed Polyakov Action?

In bosonic string theory the Polyakov action can be put in into conformal gauge. It is then possible to show that the resulting gauge fixed action is conformally invariant. Actually it's shown that ...
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Proving independence of the lagrangian on position of a free particle using the euler-lagrange equation

I asked a similar question some time back but am trying to work this from another angle. In deriving the lagrangian of a free particle, we use the homogeneity of space to conclude that the lagrangian ...
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54 views

Equation of motion of an auxiliary field

I'm a newbie in the field of QFT and SUSY, so I'm warning you: this might be a stupid question. I'm working with auxiliary fields to describe supersymmetric models and I understand that upon ...
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Deriving lagrangian of a free particle - How do you arrive at Lagrangian independency conclusions

I guess this question has been asked before, but I'm looking at a slightly different aspect. I'm reading Landau's book on classical mechanics. In deriving the lagrangian for a free particle, I ...
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Decoupling of generalized coordinates in lagrangian

Say you have a lagrangian $L$ for a system of 2 degrees of freedom. The action, S is: $S[y,z] = \int_{t_1}^{t_2} L(t,y,y',z,z')\,dt \tag{1}$ If $y$ and $z$ are associated with two parts of the ...
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If I flex my arm, where is the “equal and opposite” reaction?

In my sight, nothing happens at all. Is the opposite reaction pressure applied to my bones? It certainly seems so; however, since I flex my arms in a curve, shouldn't the opposite reaction direction ...
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Information contained in Lagrangians and actions [duplicate]

I've been looking into analytical mechanics with the intention of finding out more about Lagrangians and actions. As far as I currently understand it, the Lagrangian is formed with positions and ...
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56 views

Formulating a symplectic integrator for a non-local Hamiltonian

I recently asked two questions, Q. [1] and Q. [2], regarding reformulating non-local Lagrangians as Hamiltonians. In these questions, the Hamiltonian is formulated as an integral because of it's ...
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129 views

An inconsistency in Hamiltonian formulation for non-local Lagrangian: what am I doing wrong?

This question is based on a previous question I asked, Q. [1] In this question, I proposed an example of a non-local Lagrangian (functional), I'm revisiting it here: $$\mathbb{L}=\frac{1}{2}\int^t_0 ...
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Legendre transform for non-local Lagrangians, or Hamiltonian of non-local Lagrangian and their properties

This is sort of a multi-part question, mostly dealing with how to treat non-local Hamiltonians and how the corresponding properties of Hamiltonians work in a non-local framework. I proposed an example ...
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The principle of least action [duplicate]

I have read about the principle of least action. This principle suggests that nature would allow a particle to travel in a path along which the integral of the difference between kinetic energy and ...
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153 views

Chern Simons action in 4 dimensions

I can not understand why we do not have a Chern-Cimons action for 4 or even forms? And why it not good theory for (3+1) dim?
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Euclidean classical action

This is the Euclidean classical action $S_{cl}[\phi]=\int d^{4}x\ (\frac{1}{2}(\partial_{\mu}\phi)^{2}+U(\phi))$. It would be nice if somebody could explain the structure of the potential. I don't ...
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Hamilton-Jacobi theory and initial value problem?

Having read through some recent posts regarding the Lagrangian formulation being interpreted into an initial value problem rather than the familiar boundary condition problem we are familiar with, I ...
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Why does the non-linearity of the string action prohibit stretching due to strong excitations?

From 't Hooft's String Theory lecture notes on page 8 (paraphrased): To understand hadronic particles as excited states of strings, we have to study the dynamical properties of these strings, and ...
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Time dependence of the Lagrangian of a free particle?

I am working through Landau's book on Classical Mechanics. I understand the logic and physics of isotropy and homogeneity of space-time behind the derivation of the Lagrangian for a free particle, but ...
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Help understanding what the Hamiltonian signifies for the action compared with the Euler-Lagrange equations for the Lagrangian?

Consider the Lagrangian for a simple harmonic oscillator \begin{equation} L (x,\dot{x}) = \frac{1}{2}m\dot{x}^2 - \frac{1}{2}kx^2 \end{equation} Obviously we have \begin{align} \frac{\partial ...
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The einbein in the action of a relativistic massive point particles [closed]

The action of a relativistic massive point particle moving in space-time is $$S=-m\int d\tau \sqrt{g _{\nu \rho}\frac{dx^{\nu}}{d\tau}\frac{dx^{\rho}}{d\tau}}$$ [with Minkowski sign convention ...
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Can we derive most fundamental laws from the Action Principle? [duplicate]

It is said in the book Fearful Symmetry - The Search for Beauty in Modern Physics that we can derive all basic laws in physics from a simple principle called Least Action Principle (although it may be ...
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Alternative formulations of Lagrangians and Hamiltonian? [closed]

We have the Hamiltonian, a concept that was based on trajectories being used extensively in General Relativity, Electromagnetism, Quantum Mechanics, Classical Physics and lot more. Where we use the ...
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83 views

Does an on-shell symmetry necessarily change the Lagrangian by a total derivative?

This is a follow-up question to: Does a symmetry necessarily leave the action invariant? Qmechanic writes here: Here the word off-shell means that the Lagrangian eqs. of motion are not assumed to ...
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Does a symmetry necessarily leave the action invariant?

A symmetry maps a configuration with stationary action to another configuration with stationary action. However, does it necessarily preserve the value of the action exactly? It seems that it should ...
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“Find the Lagrangian of the theory”

I've heard a few of my professors throw around the term "finding the Lagrangian of a theory". What exactly is this referring to. From what I understand it seems that you determine invariances ...
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How to calculate the classical on-shell action for a harmonic oscillator? [closed]

So, short and sweet, I've been reading the path integrals book by Feynman and Hibbs, and one of the elementary problems they ask is to calculate the classical on-shell$^1$ action of a harmonic ...
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Trying to understand relativistic action of a massive point particle

I got badly lost in derivation of relativistic formulas for energy and momentum. I stumbled upon relativistic action as follows (which should explain relativistic motion of a classical particle): $$ ...
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What assumptions about the action do we make or give up in transitioning from classical mechanics to quantum mechanics to quantum field theory?

I am reading Quantum Field Theory for the Gifted Amateur and I feel I don't have a good grasp as to how the Lagrangian and the action are used differently in (1) classical mechanics (2) quantum ...
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Is the term “Lagrangian density” specific to spacetime?

Wikipedia talks about Lagrangian densities here. But they never actually say whether they're just applying the concept to spacetime or that Lagrangian density is the analog for Lagrangians but for ...
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What is the action of maxwellian electromagnetism?

What is the Lagrangian formulation of classical electromagnetism? Specifically I want to know the action in classical electromagnetism.
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Uses for Action from Lagrangian Mechanics

In my course on Lagrangian/Hamiltonian mechanics I noticed that we dealt with finding the stationary point of the change in action $ \delta S $ and we were never really doing anything with $ S $ ...
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Lagrangians with higher derivatives than Klein-Gordon [duplicate]

Has anyone ever tried to work with Lagrangians involving higher derivatives? The Klein-Gordon Lagrangian only involves $(\frac{\partial}{\partial t})^2$ and $\nabla^2$ terms, what about third and ...
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What is the action for a photon? [duplicate]

If I understand correctly, the action for a massive free particle is: $$ S = -mc^2 \int \mathrm{d}\tau = -mc \int \sqrt{g_{\mu\nu} \frac{\mathrm{d}x^\mu}{\mathrm{d}\lambda} ...
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Action and Reaction - Time lag

Is there a time lag between action and reaction ? If there isn't such a time lag, the reaction force must cancel the applying force although they act on different bodies. My second question is that, ...
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Euler-Lagrange equation (equation of motion) solution with hairy Lagrangian [closed]

I'm going through Zwiebach Chapter 6 on relativistic strings to try to solve a similar problem. I got all the way to my equation of motion \begin{eqnarray*} \delta S & = & [ p' \delta ...
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Geodesic Equation from variation: Is the squared lagrangian equivalent?

It is well known that geodesics on some manifold $M$, covered by some coordinates ${x_\mu}$, say with a Riemannian metric can be obtained by an action principle . Let $C$ be curve $\mathbb{R} \to M$, ...
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Classical action of the simple harmonic oscillator

I have been calculating the classical action of the harmonic oscillator, the problem I have is that I am only able to solve it if I set the integration limits of the action integral to be $t=T$ and ...
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Why is the value of the action integral in general relativity the same on all regions that are homologous?

In their famous paper Action integrals and partition functions in quantum gravity, Gibbons and Hawking argue that in order to avoid the singularity of a Schwarzschild black hole you can complexify ...
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That the gravitational mass equals to inertial mass can imply that only Einstein-Hilbert action is satisfied

I read Spacetime and Geometry by Sean Carroll. In p. 166 there is a comment that GR's action is nonlinear because if it is linear like the EM field, then graviton will not interact with each other, ...
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masslessness of Goldstone boson, Effective action, and functional-integral measure

I have difficulty in understanding the path-integral formalism of SSB, and that of Effective Action. Let's say a complex scalar field theory has the global $U(1)$ SSB, $$L(\phi)=(\partial^\mu ...
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Total vs partial time derivative of action

I'm following Ref. 1 in my reasoning, struggling with action as a function of time. Consider a Lagrangian $$L=\dot x^2-x^2.\tag1$$ Solving the corresponding equations of motion with initial ...
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Invariance of action $\Rightarrow$ covariance of field equations?

Invariance of action $\Rightarrow$ covariance of field equations? Is this statement true? I have only seen examples of this, like the invariance of Electromagnetic action under Lorentz ...
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Can action be unbounded from below?

While solving the problem in this question, I found cases where the numerical optimization failed, suspecting unboundedness of the function being minimized. The function approximates the action of the ...
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When is the principle of stationary action not the principle of least action?

I've only had a very brief introduction to Lagrangian mechanics. In a physics course I took last year, we briefly covered the principle of stationary action --- we looked at it, derived some equations ...