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

1
vote
1answer
78 views

Action variables in canonical transformations

Let's suppose we have a Hamiltonian $H(p_k, q_k)$ and we want to transform it via a canonical transformation to one Hamiltonian which doesn't depend on the new coordinates $w_k$, but only in the ...
6
votes
2answers
91 views

Actions that are not integrals

So far every action I've seen in physics has been an integral of a Lagrangian, be it a point particle: $$S = \int dt\ L$$ or fields (relativistic or not): $$S = \int d^4x\ \mathcal{L}$$ and so ...
8
votes
2answers
282 views

Why are the Nambu-Goto action and Polyakov action equivalent at quantum level?

It's a well known elementary fact that the Nambu-Goto action $$S_{NG} = T \int d \tau d \sigma \sqrt{ (\partial_{\tau} X^{\mu})^2 (\partial_{\sigma} X^{\mu})^2 - (\partial_{\sigma} X^{\mu} \partial_{\...
1
vote
3answers
207 views

Principle of Least Action Question

Let's say we have a particle with no forces on it. The path that this classical particle takes is the one that minimizes the integral $$\frac{1}{2}m\int_{t_i}^{t_f}v^2dt.$$ So if we graph this for ...
0
votes
1answer
110 views

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, ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Is the Lagrangian density in field theory real?

As the Lagrangian in classical mechanics corresponds to energy, it must be real. But is that the case in quantum field theory? I mean, it should still correspond to some sort of energy, but what about ...
6
votes
2answers
323 views

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 ...
0
votes
1answer
56 views

What is the intuitive concept of the action of a relativistic point particle? [duplicate]

The action of a relativistic point particle is its negative rest energy along its worldline, the parameter being its own proper time. $$ S = - mc^2 \int d\tau $$ (see Wikipedia) Action is energy ...
1
vote
0answers
23 views

Why the action of a relativistic point particle is considered to be negative? [duplicate]

The action of a relativistic point particle is its negative rest energy along its worldline, the parameter being its own proper time. $$ S = - mc^2 \int d\tau $$ (see Wikipedia) Is there a ...
0
votes
1answer
131 views

Relativistic action is negative or positive number? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why lagrangian is negative number? In the special relativistic action for a massive point particle, $$\int_{t_i}^{t_f}\mathcal {L}dt,$$ where the Lagrangian $$\mathcal {L}...
23
votes
6answers
6k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
240 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
50 views

Nambu-Goto and Polyakov Actions

This might be a little bit of a technical question, so bear with me. Ok, so from string theory we know that the action for a relativistic string is found from the worldsheet when we embed the string ...
3
votes
2answers
113 views

Are the partial derivatives of Lagrangian in the varied action functional derivatives?

In particle mechanics Lagrangian $L$ depends upon position, velocity (and may be explicitly on time), whereas in field theory the Lagrangian density ${\cal L}$ similarly (or analogously) depends upon ...
4
votes
1answer
64 views

Vary action with respect to velocity

Variation of the action $S$ corresponding to a Lagrangian e.g. $L(x(t),\dot{x}(t))$ gives the Euler-Lagrange equations: $$ \frac{\delta S}{\delta x(t)} = 0 \\ \int du \left ( \frac{\delta L}{\delta x(...
8
votes
1answer
121 views

Action of a massive free point-particle in relativistic mechanics

I was reading about the formulation of mechanics in special relativity and found that the action for a massive free point-particle as $$ S = -mc\int_a^b ds $$ So, I did a few observations, ie. $$ S =...
0
votes
1answer
86 views

Why the Lagrangian $L$ is KE - PE? Why not KE + PE!

With Lagrangian, is there any way to intuitively grasp why total energy equals the difference between the kinetic and potential energy? Seems counter-intuitive - whereas Hamiltonian calculation (sum ...
3
votes
1answer
54 views

Problem obtaining string equations from Polyakov action [closed]

I am trying to obtain the string equations of motion from the Polyakov action in the conformal gauge, i.e.: $$ S=T\int{d\tau d\sigma (\dot{x}^2-x^{'2})}\equiv\int{d\tau d\sigma \mathcal{L}} $$ where ...
1
vote
1answer
106 views

Polyakov From Nambu-Goto Directly, for Strings?

The following derivation, for a classical relativistic point particle, of the 'Polyakov' form of the action from the 'Nambu-Goto' form of the action, without any tricks - no equations of motion or ...
1
vote
0answers
29 views

Going to the Einstein frame in f(R) theories

First of all thank you for your time! I have a question that I can't solve. In every review that I read, I find that when you want to go to the Einstein frame in a $f(R)$ theory what you have to do ...
0
votes
0answers
46 views

Feynman's Path Integral Approach: The Complex Exponentiated Action [duplicate]

I'm working on a project covering Feynman's Path Integral Approach. I'm having trouble intuitively grasping what motivates the introduction of the expression $e^\frac{iS}{\hbar}$, where S is the ...
16
votes
4answers
2k 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 ?
0
votes
1answer
76 views

How are Lagrangians in QFT constructed?

Various particle equations (like the K-G equation, the Dirac equation, the Proca equation etc.) in QFT are derived by applying the Euler-Lagrange equations to the Lagrangian density. But how are these ...
1
vote
2answers
59 views

Is there any general theorem which specifies conditions where the critical solution of an action is unique (for given boundary conditions)? [duplicate]

Consider a classical mechanical system with generalized coordinates $q_i$, $i \in \{1,\dots\,n\}$. And Lagrangian $L$. Given a path $\gamma$ (with coordinates $\gamma_i$) and two times $t_1$ and $t_2$ ...
4
votes
2answers
86 views

Total derivatives in GR

Without gravity we can easily switch between terms in a Lagrangian, such as $\partial\phi\partial\bar{\phi}$ and $\phi\Box\bar{\phi}$, since total derivative vanishes. But in GR we have additional $e\...
3
votes
1answer
47 views

Supersymmetrizing bosonic actions at higher orders

Given only the bosonic terms of a supersymmetric action, using a knowledge of the (local) supersymmetry transformations, is there a systematic way of reconstructing the fermionic terms? More generally,...
-3
votes
1answer
45 views

Lagrangian in polar coordinates [closed]

$$L=\frac{1}{2}mv^2=\frac{1}{2}m(\dot{x}^2+\dot{y}^2)$$ $$L=\frac{1}{2}mv^2=\frac{1}{2}m(\dot{r}^2+r^2\dot{φ}^2)$$ I dont get this part. $$\frac{d}{dt}\left(\frac{\partial{L}}{\partial{\dot{φ}}}\...
3
votes
3answers
96 views

Field equations of a given action

Provided an action: $$S[A_\nu] = \int\left(\frac{1}{4\mu_0}(A_{\gamma,\mu}-A_{\mu,\gamma})(A_{\zeta,\alpha}-A_{\alpha,\zeta})\eta^{\gamma\zeta}\eta^{\mu\alpha}+\frac{1}{2}\nu^2A_\mu A_\gamma -\beta A_\...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Lagrangian for relativistic massless point particle

For relativistic massive particle, the action is $$S ~=~ -m_0 \int ds ~=~ -m_0 \int d\lambda ~\sqrt{ g_{\mu\nu} \dot{x}^{\mu}\dot{x}^{\nu}} ~=~ \int d\lambda \ L,$$ where $ds$ is the proper time of ...
0
votes
0answers
67 views

Physical motivation for Lagrangian formalism

This is more of a request for clarification of understanding and intuition rather than a question, but I hope people can help me with it. I have learned calculus of variations and have subsequently ...
4
votes
2answers
98 views

Higher than Lagrangian/action?

When you begin learning physics, you start with equations of motion applied to various physics systems. In classical mechanics course you learn, that exists Lagrangian/action of a system, which gives ...
8
votes
1answer
111 views

Why is a theory Lorentz invariant if the Lagrangian is Lorentz invariant?

For if I started by trying to make the Hamiltonian Lorentz invariant, I would have failed. Indeed, the Hamiltonian is part of a covariant tensor. But how do I know that the Lagrangian is not a part of ...
0
votes
0answers
28 views

Must there exist a Lagrangian for any 2nd order ordinary derivative equation?

We know if there exist a Lagrangian of some ODE, then it must exist many equivalent Lagrangian. My question: Then must there exist a Lagrangian for any 2nd order ODE? If not, do we have some ...
3
votes
1answer
112 views

Is there an action for every physical law?

Given an action, I can get the differential equation governing the evolution of the system by applying the principle of least action. Does it work the other way around? Given any differential ...
0
votes
1answer
55 views

Understanding Derivation of Euler-Lagrange

I am trying to understand the derivation of the Euler-Lagrange equation. I drew a graph below. So, according to the graph, $$ \int_{t_1}^{t_2} L(x+\delta{x},\dot{x}+\delta\dot{x}\,t) dt - \int_{...
7
votes
5answers
346 views

In the Principle of Least Action, how does a particle know where it will be in the future?

In his book on Classical Mechanics, Prof. Feynman asserts that it just does. But if this is really what happens (& if the Principle of Least Action is more fundamental than Newton's Laws), then ...
1
vote
3answers
214 views

How can an action be dependent on both its past and future?

Is it true that whenever an action takes place it is dependent on both its past and future? I mean if we already know that whatever we are doing is dependent on future as much as it is dependent on ...
0
votes
0answers
25 views

Computing the value of an Action given some boundary conditions

Having being dealing with Actions for a while I have come across a question in which I am required to calculate the value for $S$ an action in the form of a function for some given boundary conditions....
3
votes
1answer
189 views

Hamilton's equations from the action with boundary conditions involving position and momentum

Generally, when you are given the action $$ S=\int_{t_1}^{t_2}\mathrm dt (p\dot q - \mathcal H )$$ the boundary conditions are $q(t_1)=q_1$ and $q(t_2)=q_2$. This is useful because to calculate $\...
1
vote
1answer
52 views

Meaning of dt/dx when deriving the law of reflection

One way to derive the law of reflection, you can use the principle of least action to minimize the action path of motion of light. They key concept while doing this is to take the derivative of the ...
3
votes
0answers
85 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
51 views

Principle of Stationary Action and Euler-Lagrange Equation

Principle of Stationary Action: Given a mechanical system, there exists an action $S$ such that it is extremitized, or $\delta S=0$, for the actual motion of the system. $$S = \int_{t_1}^{...
0
votes
0answers
46 views

How to calculate Lagrangian density function in classical field theory

In Lagrangian mechanics observing the possible degrees of freedom we first write down our Lagrangian. Then we use E-L equation to determine equation of motion and using sufficient boundary condition ...
1
vote
0answers
41 views

Coordinates from action-angle variables

I'm interested into getting the original coordinates, $q(t)$ and $p(t)$, from the action, $J=\oint p dq$, and angle, $w(t)=\frac{dH}{dJ}t+\beta$, variables for a 1-D, one particle system. I know that ...
1
vote
0answers
19 views

Max & inflection point in the principle of least action [duplicate]

Short question: What is the physics interpretation of max & inflection points in the principle of least action? Long question: If $$L(q_1,q_2;t)=K-V$$ then let $$S = \int^{t_1}_{t_2} L(q_1,...
0
votes
1answer
39 views

Simplify calculation of geodesics from action principle

I don't understand a step with the calculation of geodesics equations from action principle on this link : demo geodesics equations My issue is the following step : $$\int \bigg(\dfrac{dx^{\mu}}{d\...
4
votes
0answers
104 views

General Relativity as a Special Relativistic Field Theory

In this question, I want to consider only the classical case. I have seen the statement that general relativity can be considered as a spin-2 field living on a Minkowski background. In that case, you ...
-1
votes
1answer
21 views

Are cumulus clouds analogous to airships flying downwards?

First of all, cumulus clouds are amazing. Big puffy white clouds floating on the air. Some of them produce updrafts of over 100 Km per hour. Now, if an airship had its engine pointed towards the ...
5
votes
1answer
111 views

Reality of the action in QFT [duplicate]

Following Ramond, 1.5 Field Theory, it is mentioned that the classical Lagrangian density in (workable for HEP) QFT theories has to be Real, otherwise total probability is not conserved. Can someone ...
8
votes
2answers
297 views

Why does the action have to be hermitian?

The hermiticity of operators of observables, e.g. the Hamiltonian, in QM is usually justified by saying that the eigenvalues must be real valued. I know that the Lagrangian is just a Legendre ...