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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

2
votes
1answer
65 views

Question about “different” equations of motion in dependence of indices

Let's have the action $$ S = \int (\partial_{\mu}h^{\mu \sigma}\partial^{\nu}h_{\nu \sigma} - \Lambda h^{\mu \nu}T_{\mu \nu}) d^{4}x. $$ For definiteness, $$ h_{\mu \nu} = h_{\nu \mu} , \quad T_{\mu ...
2
votes
2answers
180 views

Curved spacetime point particle Lagrangian density

This is probably trivially related to the question: Action for a point particle in a curved spacetime , but am a bit unsure how to write it as a Lagrangian density. In curved spacetime the action is ...
5
votes
1answer
233 views

Derivation of Noether's theorem - A problem with physical significance

My question is about the field theoretic version of Noether's theorem. I am deeply troubled by one of the hypotheses of the theorem. As it is the standard textbook for Lagrange mechanics, I'll follow ...
3
votes
2answers
131 views

Classical electrodynamics formulated in terms of forces

The Newton's law of universal gravitation is described in terms of a force, which is produced by an action at a distance. It also can be described using the concept of a field, and that would be an ...
0
votes
1answer
72 views

Why we can set variations for the metric and its derivatives to zero at infinity?

This question is the continuation of the following one. I still don't understand why $(1)$ may be set to zero. This refers to the zero value variations of metric and its derivatives on the infinitely ...
3
votes
1answer
155 views

Why can we assume independent variables when using Lagrange multipliers in nonholonomic systems?

I'm studying from Goldstein's Classical Mechanics. In section 2.4, he discusses nonholonomic systems. We assume that the constraints can be put in the form $f_\alpha(q, \dot{q}, t) =0$, $\alpha = 1 ...
3
votes
1answer
127 views

Hamilton-Jacobi formalism and on-shell actions

My question is essentially how to extract the canonical momentum out of an on-shell action. The Hamilton-Jacobi formalism tells us that Hamilton's principal function is the on-shell action, which ...
11
votes
3answers
449 views

Is Einstein-Hilbert action the unique action whose variation gives Einstein's field equations?

I know that scaling the action with a non-zero multiplicative constant, or adding a total divergence term to the Lagrangian density do not change the Euler-Lagrange equations, cf. e.g. this ...
0
votes
0answers
37 views

How can a transversality condition be invoked to reduce the Euler-Lagrange equation?

I asked this question regarding the Euler-Lagrange equation at MSE and have gotten no response. I will ask it here too. I think I might have more luck here since the E-L equation is at the core of ...
3
votes
0answers
58 views

The relation between the action of tunneling and the energy

In the semi-classical physics, the probability of the penetration through a barrier is given by $$ p \sim \exp \left( - A_{0} (E) \right), $$ where $A_0$ is the imaginary part of the action and $E$ ...
0
votes
1answer
219 views

Detailing why a scalar gravity theory predicts no bending of light [closed]

I want to understand in technical detail why a particular scalar theory for gravity predicts no bending of light. It is left as a question, either in "Gravitation" by Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler, ...
5
votes
1answer
595 views

How to find the Stress-Energy tensor?

I am a bit at loss about how to proceed to find the stress-energy tensor given some distribution of matter. The Wikipedia page gives some examples, and some (inequivalent) definitions for it: Using ...
1
vote
1answer
80 views

Finding the EOM for a charged relativistic particle

For an exercise sheet of a course in general relativity I'm asked to derive the equations of motion for a charged particle in an EM-field given by a potential $A^\mu$. I am give the action: $$S = ...
6
votes
2answers
435 views

Derivation of the Polyakov Action

As is usually done when first presenting string theory, the Nambu-Goto Action, $$ S_{\text{NG}}:=-T\int d\tau d\sigma \sqrt{-g} $$ ($g:=\det (g_{\alpha \beta})$ is the induced metric on the ...
1
vote
1answer
166 views

Expansion of action in general relativity?

I am reading a lot about GR lately (because of thesis), and one thing bothers me, and I'm not finding a direct answer to it. For instance in one article, the author says that they are expanding ...
3
votes
1answer
309 views

Euler's equations of rigid body motion from least action principle

I would like to derive Euler's equations of rigid body motion from least action principle. Suppose we are in free space so we have no gravity so Lagrangian is equal to kinetic energy. $$ L = T = ...
9
votes
2answers
358 views

How do I read the simple, but contradictory, Lagrangian ($\mathcal{L} = x + v$)?

I understand the lagrangian formulation of classical mechanics, to a degree. I can derive the Euler-Lagrange equations from the "least" action principle, and equivalently can determine the equations ...
1
vote
1answer
159 views

Is the Schwinger action principle important in renormalization?

Is the Schwinger action principle important in renormalization? I want to know if this principle could help us to see if a model is renormalizable of not. If you have any other comment or information ...
0
votes
2answers
220 views

What's an “Action” and what does the Lagrangian equation mean exactly?

How and why would a particle take the shortest path? $L=KE-PE$? What's the $KE-PE$ mean in English? I understand the 'mechanics' but not the idea itself. Please explain simply, I do know Calculus ...
6
votes
1answer
287 views

Energy-momentum tensor of Bosonic Ghost Action in String Theory

When quantizing bosonic string theory by means of the path integral, one inverts the Faddeev-Popov determinant by going to Grassmann variables, yielding: $$ S_{\mathrm{ghosts}} = ...
3
votes
1answer
320 views

Principle of Least Action

Is the principle of least action actually a principle of least action or just one of stationary action? I think I read in Landau/Lifschitz that there are some examples where the action of an actual ...
10
votes
1answer
373 views

What makes a Lagrangian a Lagrangian?

I just wanted to know what the characteristic property of a Lagrangian is? How do you see without referring to Newtonian Mechanics that it has to be $L=T-V$? People constructed a Lagrangian in ...
6
votes
3answers
421 views

Principle of Least Action via Finite-Difference Method

I am reading Gelfand's Calculus of Variations & mathematically everything makes sense to me, it makes perfect sense to me to set up the mathematics of extremization of functionals & show that ...
1
vote
2answers
187 views

Is this a valid derivation of the Legendre transformation from the Euler-Lagrange condition

E-L condition: $$\frac{d p}{dt}=\frac{\partial L}{\partial q}$$ Where $p=\frac{\partial L}{\partial \dot{q}}$ Are the following steps valid: $$\frac{\partial q}{dt} dp=\partial L$$ $$\dot{q} \: ...
2
votes
1answer
445 views

Retrieving Maxwell's equations from the minimum action principle

I'm currently working at the start of Alexei Tsvelik's book Quantum Field Theory in Condensed Matter Physics. I'm kinda stumped on a few essential steps. Starting with the action: $$S = \int dt \int ...
2
votes
1answer
362 views

Why vary the action with respect to the inverse metric?

Whenever I have read texts which employ actions that contain metric tensors, such as the Nambu-Goto, Polyakov or Einstein-Hilbert action, the equations of motion are derived by varying with respect to ...
1
vote
1answer
206 views

Discretization of action in path integral

I am reading Peskin and Schroeder (path integrals) and it states that discretising the classical action gives: $$S~=~\int \left(\frac{m}{2}\dot{x}^{2}-V(x)\right) dt ~\rightarrow~ \sum ...
5
votes
1answer
167 views

What is the action for an electromagnetic field if including magnetic charge

Recently, I try to write an action of an electromagnetic field with magnetic charge and quantize it. But it seems not as easy as it seems to be. Does anyone know anything or think of anything like ...
1
vote
2answers
497 views

How the boundary term in the variation of the action vanishes

In David Tong's QFT lecture notes (Quantum Field Theory: University of Cambridge Part III Mathematical Tripos, Lecture notes 2007, p.8), he states that We can determine the equations of motion by ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Noether's current expression in Peskin and Schroeder

In the second chapter of Peskin and Schroeder, An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory, it is said that the action is invariant if the Lagrangian density changes by a four-divergence. But if we ...
7
votes
1answer
141 views

Does anybody know of any good sources that explain (generically) how we form Lagrangians/Actions/Superpotentials for different field content?

I regularly find that I'll understand where the field content in a particular physics paper comes from, but then a Lagrangian or action or superpotential is stated and I don't know how it's derived. ...
2
votes
1answer
144 views

Varying an action (cosmological perturbation theory)

I am stuck varying an action, trying to get an equation of motion. (Going from eq. 91 to eq. 92 in the image.) This is the action $$S~=~\int d^{4}x \frac{a^{2}(t)}{2}(\dot{h}^{2}-(\nabla h)^2).$$ ...
3
votes
3answers
415 views

Polyakov action: difference induced metric and dynamical metric

The Polyakov action is given by: $$ S_p ~=~ -\frac{T}{2}\int d^2\sigma \sqrt{-g}g^{\alpha\beta}\partial_{\alpha}X^{\mu}\partial_{\beta}X^{\nu}\eta_{\mu\nu} ~=~ -\frac{T}{2}\int d^2\sigma ...
2
votes
2answers
270 views

Calculating the (on-shell) action of a free particle

I am having difficulty with the first problem from Feynman and Hibbs' book. For a free particle $L = (m/2)\dot{x}^2$. Show that the (on-shell) action $S_{cl}$ corresponding to the classical ...
1
vote
2answers
341 views

Why lagrangian is negative number?

In the special relativistic action for a massive point particle, $$\int_{t_i}^{t_f}\mathcal {L}dt,$$ why is the Lagrangian $$\mathcal {L}=-E_o\gamma^{-1}$$ a negative number?
0
votes
0answers
82 views

path integrals: how/why can the phase be identified with the action?

In Peskin & Schroeder, chapter 9 introduces the functional methods. The idea, to recall, is simply to sum over all the possible paths: $U(x_a,x_b;T) = \sum_{\text{all paths}} e^{i . ...
9
votes
1answer
670 views

Do an action and its Euler-Lagrange equations have the same symmetries?

Assume a certain action $S$ with certain symmetries, from which according to the Lagrangian formalism, the equations of motion (EOM) of the system are the corresponding Euler-Lagrange equations. Can ...
2
votes
3answers
278 views

Is the path of stationary action unique? What are the physical implications of $L_{\dot{x}}=L_x$

Below, for any function $Q$ the notation $Q_x$ means $\frac{\partial Q}{\partial x}$, and $Q_{xx}$ means $\frac{\partial^2 Q}{\partial x^2}$. In physics, the trajectory of a particle is given by the ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Entropy and the principle of least action

Is there any link between the law of maximum entropy and the principle of least action. Is it possible to derive one from the other ?
4
votes
3answers
565 views

Action for a point particle in a curved spacetime

Is this action for a point particle in a curved spacetime correct? $$\mathcal S =-Mc \int ds = -Mc \int_{\xi_0}^{\xi_1}\sqrt{g_{\mu\nu}(x)\frac{dx^\mu(\xi)}{d\xi} \frac{dx^\nu(\xi)}{d\xi}} \ \ d\xi$$
0
votes
0answers
59 views

Help identifying an expression for the action

I found the following expression for the action of a (free, I think) relativistic particle in my notes but I can't remember from what it came from: $$ S = \int_{0}^{N} \left [ ...
1
vote
1answer
297 views

What's the motivation behind the action principle? [closed]

What's the motivation behind the action principle? Why does the action principle lead to Newtonian law? If Newton's law of motion is more fundamental so why doesn't one derive Lagrangians and ...
1
vote
2answers
307 views

What is the relativistic action of a massive particle?

all Lorentz observers watching a particle move will compute the same value for the quantity $$ds^2 = -(c \, dt)^2 + dx^2 + dy^2 + dz^2,$$ $$ds^2 = g_{\mu\nu}dx^{\mu}dx^{\nu},$$ and ''ds/c'' is then ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the meaning of the word “Principle” in Physics?

What is the meaning of the word principle in Physics? For example in the "action principle". Is it an action law, an action equation, or an unproved assumption? (I have an idea what an action is). ...
3
votes
2answers
163 views

Could we get rid of explicit fields derivatives in Quantum Field Theories?

For instance, if we choose the following scalar field Lagrangian, which is (I hope) Lorentz-invariant, where $l$ is a a length scale, and with a $(-1,1,1,1)$ metric: $$ \mathfrak{L}(x) \sim ...
2
votes
1answer
282 views

Find the action from given equations of motion

Is there a systematic procedure to generally obtain an appropriate action that corresponds to any given equations of motion (if I know that it exists)?
4
votes
0answers
234 views

Dirac action and conventions

I have a (possibly) fundamental question, which is driving me crazy. Notation When considering the Dirac action (say reading Peskin's book), one have $\int ...
4
votes
2answers
570 views

How to apply Noether's theorem

Say I have a point transformation: $$x' ~=~ (1 +\epsilon)x,$$ $$t' ~=~ (1 +\epsilon)^2t,$$ and Lagrangian $$ L ~=~ \frac{1}{2}m\dot{x}^2 - \frac{\alpha}{x^2}.$$ How do I go out about showing ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the physical meaning of the action in Lagrangian mechanics?

The action is defined as $S = \int_{t_1}^{t_2}L \, dt$ where $L$ is Lagrangian. I know that using Euler-Lagrange equation, all sorts of formula can be derived, but I remain unsure of the physical ...
5
votes
2answers
452 views

Gauge fixing and equations of motion

Consider an action that is gauge invariant. Do we obtain the same information from the following: Find the equations of motion, and then fix the gauge? Fix the gauge in the action, and then find the ...