1
vote
2answers
80 views

Action and Action integral: Different kinds of variational principles

What are the difference between: the action $\int_{t_{1}}^{t_{2}}(L+H) dt$ that we use in the principle of least action, and the action integral $\int_{t_{1}}^{t_{2}}L dt$ that we use in ...
7
votes
3answers
229 views

Confusion regarding the principle of least action in Landau's “The Classical Theory of Fields”

Edit: The previous title didn't really ask the same thing as the question (sorry about that), so I've changed it. To clarify, I understand that the action isn't always a minimum. My questions are in ...
2
votes
1answer
44 views

Sign of gravitational force

I'm reading Lanczos's The variational principles of mechanics, and on pp. 80-81 there is an example involving a system made up of $n$ rigid bars, freely jointed at their end points, and the two free ...
3
votes
2answers
100 views

Variation of Action with time coordinate variations

I was trying to derive equation (65) in the following review: http://relativity.livingreviews.org/open?pubNo=lrr-2004-4&page=articlesu23.html This slightly unusual then usual classical mechanics ...
1
vote
0answers
86 views

Why does Principle for least action hold for classical fields [duplicate]

Let $\mathscr L (\phi(\mathbf x), \partial \phi(\mathbf x))$ denote the Lagrangian density of field $\phi(\mathbf x)$. Then then actual value of the field $\phi(\mathbf x)$ can be computed from the ...
0
votes
2answers
129 views

Derivation of Lagrangian?

I know that the Lagrangian $L$ is defined to be $T-V$, i.e. the difference between kinetic energy and potential energy. Also the Action $S$ is defined to be $\int Ldx$ and from this we can derive ...
4
votes
1answer
112 views

How Hamilton's Principle was found?

Hamilton's principle states that the actual path a particle follows from points $p_1$ and $p_2$ in the configuration space between times $t_1$ and $t_2$ is such that the integral $$S = ...
3
votes
1answer
149 views

Is there a Lagrangian whose Euler-Lagrange equation is the gradient?

I am trying to recast a problem I am working on in terms of Lagrangian mechanics. I am in the following situation. Suppose I have a function $f:X \rightarrow \mathbb{R}$ (a field). In the its ...
10
votes
2answers
360 views

Lagrangian Mechanics - Commutativity Rule $\frac{d}{dt}\delta q=\delta \frac{dq}{dt} $

I am reading about Lagrangian mechanics. At some point the difference between the temporal derivative of a variation and variation of the temporal derivative is discussed. The fact that the two are ...
3
votes
1answer
57 views

Classical Mechanics & Coordinates [closed]

What is the meaning generalised coordinates in Classical Mechanics? How is Lagrangian formalism different from Hamiltonian formalism? How are they related to Hamilton's Principle? How are they ...
3
votes
1answer
138 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
104 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
453 views

D'Alembert's Principle: Necesssity of virtual displacements

Why is the D'Alembert's Principle $$\sum_{i} ( {F}_{i} - m_i \bf{a}_i )\cdot \delta \bf r_i = 0$$ stated in terms of "virtual" displacements instead of actual displacements? Why is it so necessary ...
3
votes
2answers
122 views

Non-uniqueness of solutions in Newtonian mechanics

In The Variational Principles of Mechanics by Lanczos, in section 1 of Chapter 1, Lanczos states that for a complicated situation, the Newtonian approach fails to give a unique answer to the problem, ...
2
votes
1answer
178 views

Motivating the Legendre Transform Mathematically

If I begin with a functional of the form $$J[y] = \int_a^b f(x,y,y')dx$$ and find its Euler-Lagrange equations $$\frac{\partial f}{\partial y} - \frac{d}{dx}\frac{\partial f}{\partial y'} = 0 = ...
5
votes
1answer
324 views

What is Maupertuis' principle good for?

The strength of Hamilton's principle is obvious to me and I see the advantage. Now, for conservative systems we also have Maupertuis' principle that says: $$ \delta \int p dq =0$$ and I am not sure ...
3
votes
1answer
266 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
333 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
399 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
216 views

Virtual differentials approach to Euler-Lagrange equation - necessary?

I'm currently teaching myself intermediate mechanics & am really struggling with the d'Alembert-based virtual differentials derivation for the Euler-Lagrange equation. The whole notion of, and ...
1
vote
1answer
274 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
774 views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
244 views

What shape of track minimizes the time a ball takes between start and stop points of equal height?

I was at my son's high school "open house" and the physics teacher did a demo with two curtain rail tracks and two ball bearings. One track was straight and on a slight slope. The beginning and end ...
2
votes
2answers
490 views

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?
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Why can't any term which is added to the Lagrangian be written as a total derivative (or divergence)?

All right, I know there must be an elementary proof of this, but I am not sure why I never came across it before. Adding a total time derivative to the Lagrangian (or a 4D divergence of some 4 ...
4
votes
2answers
350 views

How do I show that there exists variational/action principle for a given classical system?

We see variational principles coming into play in different places such as Classical Mechanics (Hamilton's principle which gives rise to the Euler-Lagrange equations), Optics (in the form of Fermat's ...
3
votes
2answers
393 views

What are some interesting calculus of variation problems? [closed]

That I could create as a classical mechanics class project? Other than the classical examples that we see in textbooks (catenary, brachistochrone, Fermat, etc..)
24
votes
7answers
4k views

Why the Principle of Least Action?

I'll be generous and say it might be reasonable to assume that nature would tend to minimize, or maybe even maximize, the integral over time of $T-V$. Okay, fine. You write down the action ...
3
votes
1answer
288 views

What variables does the action $S$ depend on?

Action is defined as, $$S ~=~ \int L(q, q', t) dt,$$ but my question is what variables does $S$ depend on? Is $S = S(q, t)$ or $S = S(q, q', t)$ where $q' := \frac{dq}{dt}$? In ...
2
votes
1answer
621 views

Does Action in Classical Mechanics have a Interpretation? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Hamilton's Principle The Lagrangian formulation of Classical Mechanics seem to suggest strongly that "action" is more than a mathematical trick. I suspect strongly ...