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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Is there a Maupertuis principle for General Relativity?

The motion of a point particle in classical mechanics is given by Newton's equation, $\mathbf{F}=m\mathbf{a}$. Suppose all forces considered are conservative and we have a constant total energy $h$. ...
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How to proceed (Tough Problem) [closed]

The problem that I am considering is to find the shortest path (or geodesic) on a surface with the equation $z=f(x,y)$. The path is parameterized by $s$ so that the path goes from $(x(0)$,$y(0)$,$z(0))...
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Why is the action dimensionless in natural units?

As I understand it, a natural system of units is one in which the numerical values of $c$ and $\hbar$ are unity, i.e. $c=\hbar =1$. What I find confusing is that they are still dimensionful, i.e. $[...
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How to derive the true spatial paths (orbits) from the Jacobi-Maupertuis condition

How can differential equations describing a physical object's true spatial paths (orbits) be derived from the time-independent Jacobi-Maupertuis principle of least action? According to this, it is ...
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Why do we sum relativistic intervals in relativistic action of a massive point-particle, and not a function from it?

Relativistic action as follows (which should explain relativistic motion of a classical particle): $$ S = C \Delta s=C\int ds $$ Where $C$ is some constant and $\Delta s$ is relativistic interval. ...
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Variations of actions of (lie algebra valued) differential forms

I have always found it a bit difficult to understand the variation of an action written in differential form language. For example, take the action $$\int tr A\wedge A\wedge A$$ where $A=A_\mu dx^\...
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How does GR determine the topology of spacetime? [duplicate]

The crux of GR is the action $$ S=\int _\mathcal M d^n x \sqrt{|g|}\,R $$ Varying this and setting $\delta S=0$ gives you the Einstein field equations. However, that only determines the metric, not ...
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The cosmological constant as a Lagrange multiplier?

The cosmological constant $\Lambda$ can be introduced into the gravitational action like this : \begin{equation} S = \frac{1}{2 \kappa} \int_{\Omega} (R - 2 \Lambda) \sqrt{-g} \; d^4 x + \text{matter ...
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Gibbons-Hawking Variation

I know there already exist some questions about this and some very good answers. However, I am still having trouble understanding one part of the calculation. The GHY term is given by $S_{GHY}=-\frac{...
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Is boundary well defined if variation of metric don't vanish on the boundary?

Suppose that you want to calculate the variation $\delta S$ of an action induced by some arbitrary variation $\delta g_{\mu \nu}$ of the spacetime metric : \begin{equation} S = \int_{\Omega} \mathscr{...
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Origin of Hamilton's variational principle [duplicate]

My question is what is the theoretical origin of Hamilton's principle. I mean is there any rigorous mathematical proof of this principle from some more basic principles?
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232 views

What are the boundary conditions associated to this lagrangian?

Suppose that $L(q^i, \dot{q}^i)$ is a standard and well behaved lagrangian associated to some Dirichlet boundary conditions : $q^i(t_1) = q_1^i$ and $q^i(t_2) = q_2^i$. Now I have this new lagrangian ...
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Boundary conditions of fields from the stationary action principle

First principle of stationary action Consider a real Klein-Gordon scalar field $\phi$ living in a $D$ dimensional flat spacetime. The field is considered off shell (the on shell condition is defined ...
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On the surface, is the law of maximum entropy production the same as principle of least action?

I just have read about the law of maximum entropy production. Someone has idolized it enough to make an whole website just for it: http://www.lawofmaximumentropyproduction.com/ A system will ...
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Why can't we fix the metric and its derivatives at boundary, with the variational method?

In general relativity and for its Einstein-Hilbert action, we usually ask that the metric variations $\delta g_{\mu \nu}$ cancel on the boundary $\partial \, \Omega$ of some region $\Omega$ of the ...
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Variation of the Einstein-Hilbert action in D dimensions without the Gibbons-Hawking-York term

Consider the standard Einstein-Hilbert action in $D \ne 2$ dimensions spacetimes : \begin{equation} S_{EH} = \frac{1}{2 \kappa} \int_{\Omega} R \; \sqrt{- g} \; d^D x, \end{equation} where $\Omega$ is ...
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Action for solution of general nth order differential equation [duplicate]

Suppose I want to find solution to a general nth order differential equation. (If I am right about the logic then) one might say that the solution $y\equiv y(x)$ is that function for which the ...
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46 views

Proof of Hamilton's principle [duplicate]

Is there a anything like a proof of Hamilton's principle? Where would I find it?
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36 views

Action functional of Born-Infeld model

I have a Born-Infeld action functional like this $$I[A,\phi]~=~\int b^2(\sqrt{1+(|\bigtriangledown\times A|^2)/b^2}-1)+|D_A\phi|^2 + b^2(1-\sqrt{(1-|\phi|^2)^2/b^2} ).$$ Have any books or notes talk ...
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107 views

What does it mean for an action to be defined “on-shell”?

Some actions like 11D supergravity are defined "on-shell". What does this mean exactly? Can you give me an example? Say for example the Klein-Gordon action. Can this be defined on-shell too?
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38 views

Behaviour of action with respect to time

I was wondering if it was possible to say something general on the behaviour of the action : $$ S[x(\tau)]=\int_0^T L(x,\frac{dx}{d\tau},t) dt $$ (where $x(\tau)$ defines a trajectory, with certain ...
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What is $\mathcal{L}_M$?

Usually we derive the Einstein field equation in vacuum starting from E-H action $$S= \int{\sqrt{-g}d^4x(\frac{c^4}{16\pi G})R}.$$ But in case we wanted to get $$R_{\mu\nu}-\frac{1}{2}g_{\mu\nu}R=\...
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Invariance under local diffeomorphisms

In the context of the Polyakov action, the action for a relativistic point particle $$ S_P = \frac{1}{2} \int \mathrm{d}\tau \, e(\tau) \left(\frac{1}{e^2(\tau)}\left(\frac{\mathrm{d} X^\mu(\tau)}{\...
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Why does overall action need to have an extremum?

Quoting from Landau's and Lifshitz' Mechanics : The integral ${\int\limits_{t_1}^{t_2}}L(q, \dot{q},t)\,dt$ for the entire path must have an extremum, but not necessarily a minimum. This, ...
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Function for which action is the minimum

On page 2 of "Mechanics" Landau & Lifshitz say that $q=q(t)$ is a function for which action is a minimum. Before this they say that at times $t_1$ and $t_2$, the system occupies coordinates $q^{(1)...
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Derivative of the action integral [closed]

I need to find the partial derivative of the action $S$ with respect to the generalized coordinate $q(t_f)$ and according to my textbook, it should equal the generalized momentum $p(t_f)$. I have a ...
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56 views

Covariant form of non-relativistic free particle

I have two questions about the action of free particle. $$S=\int dt~\frac{m}{2}~(\frac{d \vec{x} }{dt})^2 \tag{1}$$ The Covariant form is: (assume: $m=1$) $$S=\int d\tau \frac{1}{v(\tau)}~\...
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Action max, min, or saddle?

It is well known that $\delta S = 0$ lays the foundation for variational mechanics. But I am confused as to whether or not this S is a minimum, a maximum, or a saddle point. Some books address this ...
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121 views

Derivation of Euler-Lagrange equations in Landau's and Lifshitz's “Mechanics”

There's an integral ${\int\limits_{t_1}^{t_2}}(\frac{\partial{L}}{\partial{q}}{\delta}q+\frac{\partial{L}}{\partial{v}}{\delta}v)dt=0$. [1.] $ {\delta}v={\frac{d{\delta}q}{dt}}$ [2.] I should get $ [...
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Lagrangians not related via a total time derivative lead to same Noether symmetries?

Having answered my initial two questions (v1), I now consider a third possibility. Consider two Lagrangians that both lead to equivalent equations of motion. Suppose that they are not related via a ...
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Maxwell and Bianchi equations

We frequently see: A certain action and then we are asked to solve for Bianchi identity and Maxwell equation. I have often solved for them but I never knew what is the difference between the two? In ...
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Physical meaning of the Lagrangian function [duplicate]

In Lagrangian mechanics, the function $L=T-V$, called Lagrangian, is introduced, where $T$ is the kinetic energy and $V$ the potential one. I was wondering: is there any reason for this quantity to be ...
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Bulk action - Can a brane velocity be defined?

a) If a brane action in a bulk is defined, in that case, that a brane is modelwise moving through a bulk, how is this ratio defined? Is this a regular "velocity" in that meaning, that space is being ...
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Goldstein's derivation of the 'principle of least action'

I want make an punctual question ands it's about The derivation of the expression $$ \Delta\int_{t_1}^{t_2} Ldt=L(t_2)\Delta t_2-L(t_1)\Delta t_1 + \int_{t_1}^{t_2} \delta L dt. \tag{8.74}$$ You can ...
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Different actions equivalence in general relativity?

I started reading up on the different actions that appear in GR. I have come across two: When looking at geodesics I found: $$S=\int \sqrt{-g_{\mu \nu} \frac{dx^\mu}{d\lambda} \frac{dx^\nu}{d\...
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qualitative explanation of Principle of Least Action (vertical movement)

Consider the following situation I want to understand what the PLA means here from an intuitive and qualitative point of view. I understand the mathematical approach. Combining $L(y,\dot{y})=\...
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Deriving Expression for variation of Action (Lagrangian Mechanics)

I am studying Lagrangian mechanics and I have come across something that I do not understand. Basically the text I am reading skipped steps and I do not know how to get from point A to point B. I ...
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Why are the Euler-Lagrange equations invariant if we add a surface term to the action?

In the lecture on Noether's theorem and the Lagrange formulation of classical field theories, my professor wrote A symmetry is a field variation that maps solutions to solutions, which is true if ...
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Deriving velocity after elastic and inelastic collision via the Principle of Least Action

I am reading on the Principle of Least Action from a historical perspective. I am also trying to make sense of it from a contemporary point of view -- though my training in contemporary physics is ...
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Why should physical theories always have a Lagrangian formalism? [duplicate]

I've often heard that every physical theory has some kind of Lagrangian formalism, or a formalism in terms of a principle of stationary action. The Standard Model has one, General Relativity has one, ...
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Equivalence of functional and partial derivatives

I am trying to derive Newton's second law from the principle of least action, that is, setting the functional derivative $\frac{\delta S}{\delta x(t)}$ equal to 0. $$S = \int dt' \left[ \frac{m}{2} ...
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66 views

Is there any reason for principle of least action to be true? [duplicate]

My question is not rigidly related to physics. The principle of least actions says that for any dynamical system there exists a function parameterized by $q$'s and $\dot{q}$'s such that the line ...
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What is a macro world example of “action”? [duplicate]

What is a real world example of action? This question originally came to me when learning about Planck's constant $h$. Planck's constant $h$ is measured in Joule * Seconds. I know Joule * Seconds can ...
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Why don't all free particles lose their kinetic energy?

I'm currently studying Action. I've been reading about how a particle has particular probabilities of ending at an infinite number of events. Say I have a free particle that isn't experiencing any ...
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On the connection between forces and the principle of stationary action

Feynman tries to account for the relation between the principle of stationary action, which is a statement about the whole path of a particle, and Newton's second law, which is a statement about the ...
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Finding the action of a discretized Lagrangian

I am trying to find the action associated with the Lagrangian density $$ \mathcal{L} = \frac{1}{2}\left( \frac{\partial\phi}{\partial x} \right)^2 + \frac{1}{2}m^2\phi^2. \tag{1} $$ I am supposed to ...
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Physical significance of omitting a purely time dependent term from a Lagrangian

For a simple pendulum whose point of support moves on a vertical circle of radius $a$ with constant frequency $\gamma$, you can write the Lagrangian down. The potential energy can be written as $-mg(-...
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3-cylinder surface element (Poisson's “A Relativist's Toolkit”)

From Poisson's "A Relativist's Toolkit": he introduces the non-dynamical term $$ S_0=\frac{1}{8\pi}\int_{\partial\Omega}\epsilon K\sqrt{\lvert h\rvert}d^3x $$ in the GR action, where $h$ is the ...
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The Nambu-Goto action how do we know the Hamilton's principle applies?

I am reading 'A first course in string theory' by Barton Zwiebach (2ed) on page 112 he comes up (after a small derivation) the action formula: $$S=-\frac{T_0}{c} \int d\tau d \sigma \sqrt{-\gamma}.$$ ...
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Help me calculate the Euclidean action of a gravitating system!

I recently read Gibbons and Hawking's paper Action integrals and partition functions in quantum gravity, Phys. Rev. D 15 (1977) 2752. I am interested in repeating their calculations. It is fairly ...