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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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 ...
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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(...
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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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229 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 ...
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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 =...
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80 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 ...
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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 ...
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102 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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73 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 ...
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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 $t_2$ ...
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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\...
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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,...
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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}}}\...
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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_\...
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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 ...
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63 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 ...
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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 ...
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107 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 ...
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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 ...
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111 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 ...
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1answer
52 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_{...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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....
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187 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 $\...
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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 ...
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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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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}^{...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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,...
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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\...
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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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Are there (interesting) Poincare-invariant QFTs with non-invariant Lagrangian densities?

In all QFTs I know, the Lagrangian density is completely invariant under the Poincare group, $$ \mathcal L \to \mathcal L. $$ On the other hand, the action would be invariant even if the Lagrangian ...
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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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Action with self-dual field strength

It is said that writing down an action in presence of a self-dual field strength is subtle and not known till date. The familiar example people give is that of type IIB super-gravity which has a self-...
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1answer
383 views

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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Derivation of Maxwell's equations from field tensor lagrangian

I've started reading Peskin and Schroeder on my own time, and I'm a bit confused about how to obtain Maxwell's equations from the (source-free) lagrangian density $L = -\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu\nu}F^{\mu\nu}$...
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Equivalence between principle of least action and minimum potential energy

Are the principle of least action and the principle of minimum potential energy equivalent? How does one show that? Also, are Newton's laws of motion equivalent to the principle of least action? How ...
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Tidal Bulge on Earth due to Line of Action [duplicate]

I am in an intro to Statics course, and we briefly went over why tidal bulges occurred due to vectors in the line of action between the earth and the moon. I am confused because I do not understand ...
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Principle of Most Action? [duplicate]

In Landau-Lifshitz - Vol 1. Mechanics, right after the introduction of the principle of leas action, there is the following comment: It should be mentioned that this formulation ($S = \int\limits_{...
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1answer
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Conceptual problem with action considered as function of endpoints

I am having some trouble with understanding why it makes sense to consider action in classical mechanics as function of endpoints $q_{initial}, \ q_{final}$ and endtimes $t_{initial}, \ t_{final}$. ...
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1answer
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Functional Derivative of action

Consider the action of free Klein-Gordon theory $S[\phi]=\frac{1}{2}\displaystyle\int d^4y(\partial_\mu\phi(y)\partial^\mu\phi(y)-m^2\phi^2(y))$ Integrating by parts in the first term gives me $S[\...
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When the equations of motion are not unique (eg. when they are given by eigenvectors), which will the free particle adhere to?

For this question I think it will be easier to express the usual equation describing the motion of a "free particle,"--viz. $g_{ij}\dot{x}^i\dot{x}^j$--in matrix form as follows: $$g_{ij}\dot{x}^i\...