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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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 ...
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91 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 = ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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404 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 = ...
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391 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 ...
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173 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 ...
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289 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 ...
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351 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}} = ...
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1answer
413 views

Principle of Least Action [duplicate]

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 ...
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433 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 ...
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124 views

Is it possible to derive the brane action in pure supergravity?

The branes that source the RR fields of supergravity are described by the DBI action plus a CS term. I know this only from superstring considerations. Is there a way to find this result without ...
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491 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 ...
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219 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} \: ...
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1answer
599 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 ...
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1answer
577 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 ...
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231 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 ...
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195 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 ...
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713 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 ...
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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 ...
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153 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. ...
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1answer
171 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 $$S~=~\int d^{4}x \frac{a^{2}(t)}{2}(\dot{h}^{2}-(\nabla h)^2).$$ ...
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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 ...
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364 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 ...
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392 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?
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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 . ...
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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 ...
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328 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 ...
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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 ?
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644 views

Action for a point particle in a curved spacetime

Is this action for a point particle in a curved spacetime correct? $$\mathcal S =-Mc \int ds = -Mc \int_{\xi_0}^{\xi_1}\sqrt{g_{\mu\nu}(x)\frac{dx^\mu(\xi)}{d\xi} \frac{dx^\nu(\xi)}{d\xi}} \ \ d\xi$$
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60 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 [ ...
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322 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 ...
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364 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 ...
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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). ...
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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 ...
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301 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)?
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316 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 ...
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635 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 ...
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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 ...
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563 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 ...
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309 views

Is the Lagrangian “math” or “science”?

I've seen in class that we can get from Lagrangian to derive equations of motion (I know its used elsewhere in physics, but I haven't seen it yet). It's not clear to me whether the Lagrangian itself ...
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Is the principle of least action a boundary value or initial condition problem?

Here is a question that's been bothering me since I was a sophomore in university, and should have probably asked before graduating: In analytic (Lagrangian) mechanics, the derivation of the ...
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Deriving the action and the Lagrangian for a free point particle in Special Relativity

My question relates to Landau & Lifshitz, Classical Theory of Field, Chapter 2: Relativistic Mechanics, Paragraph 8: The principle of least action. As stated there, to determine the action ...
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1answer
286 views

What do I call the inverse of a propagator?

Let's suppose I have a theory described by a Lagrangian as follows: $ \mathcal{L} = A_\mu \underbrace{\left( \partial^2 g^{\mu\nu} - \partial^\mu \partial^\nu + m^2 g^{\mu \nu} \right)}_{K^{\mu \nu}} ...
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What is the significance of action?

What is the physical interpretation of $$ \int_{t_1}^{t_2} (T -V) dt $$ where, $T$ is Kinetic Energy and $V$ is potential energy. How does it give trajectory?
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Is there some connection between the Virial theorem and a least action principle?

Both involve some 'averaging' over energies (kinetic and potential) and make some prediction about their mean values. As far as the least action principles, one could think of them as saying that the ...
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Hamilton-Jacobi Equation

In the Hamilton-Jacobi equation, we take the partial time derivative of the action. But the action comes from integrating the Lagrangian over time, so time seems to just be a dummy variable here and ...
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$\hbar$, the angular momentum and the action

Is there anything interesting to say about the fact that $\hbar$, the angular momentum and the action have the same units or is it a pure coincidence?
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Derivation of the supergravity action in 11D

The Einstein-Hilbert action of general relativity is uniquely determined by general covariance and the requirement that only second derivatives in the metric appear. Yang-Mills theory can be motivated ...
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551 views

Is it circular reasoning to derive Newton's laws from action minimization?

Usually, a typical example of the use of the action principle that I've read a lot is the derivation of Newton's equation (generalized to coordinate $q(t)$). However, in the classical mechanics ...