For questions involving the Lagrangian formulation of a dynamical system. Namely, the application of an action principle to a suitably chosen Lagrangian or Lagrangian Density in order to obtain the equations of motion of the system.

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The number of independent variables in the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian methods in Classical Mechanics

It's told in Landau - Classical Mechanics, that in the Hamiltonian method, generalized coordinates $q_j$ and generalized momenta $p_j$ are independent variables of a mechanical system. Anyway, in the ...
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0answers
183 views

Comparing Lagrangian in Special Relativity vs General Relativity for a weak gravitational field

This is a sequel to this question. Who knows a difference between the Lagrangian in SR and GR for a weak gravitational field in non-relativistic case? What is the reason of this difference?
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3answers
449 views

Generalizing Heisenberg Uncertainty Priniciple

Writing the relationship between canonical momenta $\pi _i$ and canonical coordinates $x_i$ $$\pi _i =\text{ }\frac{\partial \mathcal{L}}{\partial \left(\frac{\partial x_i}{\partial t}\right)}$$ ...
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2answers
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A charged particle moves in a plane subject to the oscillatory potential

A charged particle moves in a plane subject to the oscillatory potential: $U(r)=\frac{m\omega^2 r^2}{2}$ There is also a constant EM-field described by: $\vec{A}=\frac{1}{2}[\vec{B}\times\vec{r}]$ ...
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2answers
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Lagrangian mechanics vs Hamiltonian mechanics [duplicate]

First of all, what are the differences between these two: Lagrangian mechanics and Hamiltonian mechanics? And secondly, do I need to learn both in order to study quantum mechanics and quantum field ...
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2answers
496 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 ...
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4answers
418 views

Is the Lagrangian of a quantum field really a 'functional'?

Weinberg says, page 299, The quantum theory of fields, Vol 1, that The Lagrangian is, in general, a functional $L[\Psi(t),\dot{\Psi}(t)$], of a set of generic fields $\Psi[x,t]$ and their time ...
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1answer
471 views

The form of Lagrangian for a free particle

I've just registred here, and I'm very glad that finally I have found such a place for questions. I have small question about Classical Mechanics, Lagrangian of a free particle. I just read Deriving ...
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2answers
3k views

Deriving the Lagrangian for a free particle

I'm a newbie in physics. Sorry, if the following questions are dumb. I began reading "Mechanics" by Landau and Lifshitz recently and hit a few roadblocks right away. Proving that a free particle ...
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1answer
509 views

A Question about Virtual Work related to Newton's Third Law

In describing D'Alembert's principle, the lecture note I was provided with states that the total force $\mathbb F_l$ acting on a particle can be taken as, $$\mathbb F_l=F_l+\sum_mf_{ml}+C_l,$$ ...
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2answers
156 views

Does locality emerge from (classical) Lagrangian mechanics?

Consider a (classical) system of several interacting particles. Can it be shown that, if the Lagrangian of such a system is Lorenz invariant, there cannot be any space-like influences between the ...
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1answer
332 views

Constructing the “most general” two-particle spin interaction with $SU(2)$ symmetry

Suppose I want to write down an interaction term for an action for spin 1/2 fermions that is $SU(2)$-symmetric. I start from the most naive general form of such an action: $$S_{int} ~=~ \int_{4321} ...
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3answers
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Finding Lagrangian of a Spring Pendulum

I'm trying to understand Morin's example of a spring pendulum. What I don't get is his expression for $T$. I can understand the $\dot x^2$ term in the brackets. But I don't understand the $(l + ...
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4answers
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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 ...
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2answers
368 views

Derivation of the Lagrangian method using discretized time axis

I'm watching this video lecture by Leonard Susskind of Stanford: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3apIZCpmdls After some preliminaries, at 34 minutes he jumps into a discretization of the time axis ...
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1answer
326 views

Differentiating inside an integral sign

I'm reading John Taylor's Classical Mechanics book and I'm at the part where he's deriving the Euler-Lagrange equation. Here is the part of the derivation that I didn't follow: I don't get how ...
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5answers
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Why not using Lagrangian, instead of Hamiltonian, in non relativistic QM?

When we studied classical mechanics on the undergraduate level, on the level of Taylor, we covered Hamiltonian as well as Lagrangian mechanics. Now when we studied QM, on the level of Griffiths, we ...
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5answers
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Quantum mechanics as classical field theory

Can we view the normal, non-relativistic quantum mechanics as a classical fields? I know, that one can derive the Schrödinger equation from the Lagrangian density $${\cal L} ~=~ \frac{i\hbar}{2} ...
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2answers
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Is the form of the Lagrangian relevant before the renormalization procedure?

In the renormalization procedure, is writing things like $$\varphi=\sqrt{Z_{\varphi}}\ \varphi_R\ ,\ \ m_0^2=Z_m\ m_R^2\ ,\ \ g_0=Z_g \mu^{\epsilon}\ g_R$$ and $$Z_i=1+\sum_{\nu=1}^\infty ...
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1answer
840 views

When is the principle of virtual work valid?

The principle of virtual work says that forces of constraint don't do net work under virtual displacements that are consistent with constraints. Goldstein says something I don't understand. He says ...
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1answer
260 views

Showing constraint is nonholonomic

One example of a nonholonomic constraint is a disk rolling around in the cartesian plane that is constrained to not be slipping. These leads to the constraint $dx - a \sin\theta d\phi = 0$ and $dy - ...
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4answers
643 views

Why can't we ascribe a (possibly velocity dependent) potential to a dissipative force?

Sorry if this is a silly question but I cant get my head around it.
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1answer
203 views

Question on 1st order Lagrangian Derivation in Faddeev-Jackiw Formalism

I'm looking at this reference (sorry it's a postscript file, but I can't find a pdf version on the web. This paper describes a similar procedure). The topic is the Faddeev-Jackiw treatment of ...
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3answers
411 views

Calculating lagrangian density from first principle

In most of the field theory text they will start with lagrangian density for spin 1 and spin 1/2 particles. But i could find any text where this lagrangian density is derived from first principle.
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2answers
387 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 ...
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3answers
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Is there a valid Lagrangian formulation for all classical systems?

Can one use the Lagrangian formalism for all classical systems, i.e. systems with a set of trajectories $\vec{x}_i(t)$ describing paths? On the wikipedia page of Lagrangian mechanics, there is an ...
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3answers
428 views

How can we represent the motion of a particle in 2D space using Lagrange's equations?

Can we represent the motion of a particle in 2D space using Lagrange's equations? This is what I tried. Please tell me what is wrong? Consider a particle on a plane have the co-ordinates $(x,y)$ with ...
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1answer
443 views

Origins of the principle of least time in classical mechanics

Is it possible to derive the principle of least time from the principle of least action in lagrangian or hamiltonian mechanics? Or is Fermat's principle more fundamental than the principle of least ...
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1answer
255 views

Differentiation of the action functional

In the QFT book by Itzykson and Zuber, the variation of the action functional $I=\int_{t_1}^{t_2}dtL$ is written as: $$\delta I=\int_{t_1}^{t_2}dt\frac{\delta I}{\delta q(t)}\delta q(t)$$ How is ...
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1answer
444 views

Lagrangian for Euler Equations in general relativity

The stress energy tensor for relativistic dust $$ T_{\mu\nu} = \rho v_\mu v_\nu $$ follows from the action $$ S_M = -\int \rho c \sqrt{v_\mu v^\mu} \sqrt{ -g } d^4 x = -\int c \sqrt{p_\mu ...
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2answers
174 views

More general invariance of the action functional

I will formulate my question in the classical case, where things are simplest. Usually when one discusses a continuous symmetry of a theory, one means a one-parameter group of diffeomorphisms of the ...
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2answers
226 views

Using the area element in derivation of geodesic

In the derivation of the geodesic, one starts with the integral of the line element (arclength): $$L(C)=\int_{\tau_1}^{\tau_2}d\tau\sqrt{g_{\mu \nu}\dot{x}^{\mu} \dot{x}^{\nu}}$$ The integrand is ...
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2answers
127 views

Group of symmetries of Lagrange's equations

Consider the following statements, for a classical system whose configuration space has dimension $d$: Lagrange equations admit a smaller group of "symmetries" (coordinate change under which ...
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1answer
179 views

Is the number of independent constants of a system equal to the number of degree of freedom of it?

Maybe the question is not very clear myself since I am not a physics major.But can you help me make this question clearer and then give me some comments on it? I got that this holds in gravitional ...
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0answers
492 views

Find equations of motion from given Lagrangian density [closed]

Could someone help me solve this probably not very hard problem? Given Lagrangian Density: $\mathcal ...
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1answer
767 views

Principle of Least Action; Newton's 2nd Law of Motion

This question is based on the description of Longair in his book "Theoretical Concepts in Physics". He starts by giving some provisions: Conservative force field Fixed times $t_1$ and $t_2$ Object ...
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1answer
548 views

what this Lagrangian stands for?

i saw this Lagrangian in notes i have printed: $$ L(x,dx/dt) = (m^2(dx/dt)^4)/12 + m(dx/dt)^2*V(x) -V^2(x) $$ what is it? is it physical? it seems like it doesn't have the right units of energy, ...
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2answers
564 views

Conversion of the Nambo-Goto action into the Polyakov action?

I`ve read that the Nambo-Goto action containing the induced metric $\gamma_{\alpha\beta}$ $$\tag{1} S_{NG} ~=~ -T\int_{\tau_i}^{\tau_f} d\tau \int_0^{\ell} d\sigma \sqrt{-\gamma}$$ can be converted ...
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1answer
760 views

Problems that Lagranges equations of the 1st kind can solve whereas the 2nd kind can't?

Can anyone give examples of mechanics problems which can be solved by Lagrange equations of the first kind, but not the second kind?
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1answer
554 views

Why does charge conservation due to gauge symmetry only hold on-shell?

While deriving Noether's theorem or the generator(and hence conserved current) for a continuous symmetry, we work modulo the assumption that the field equations hold. Considering the case of gauge ...
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7answers
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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 ...
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2answers
360 views

Motivation for Potentials

This is a hypothetical question about "pedagogy". Let's say I am trying to take someone who has just a very small amount of knowledge about Newtonian mechanics and convince them that the Lagrangian ...
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1answer
340 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 ...
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3answers
2k views

Galilean invariance of Lagrangian for non-relativistic free point particle?

In QFT, the Lagrangian density is explicitly constructed to be Lorentz-invariant from the beginning. However the Lagrangian $$L = \frac{1}{2} mv^2$$ for a non-relativistic free point particle is ...
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1answer
45 views

Are there Trojan family or Hilda family satellites locked in Earth's orbit?

Jupiter has many Trojan asteroids located at Lagrangian points L4 and L5 and Hilda asteroids dispersed between points L3, L4, and L5. Does the Earth have similar satellites? If so, how many?
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1answer
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To construct an action from a given two-point function

This is really a basic question whose answer I guess may have to do with the way we construct Feynman rules and diagrams. The question is: Suppose I have been given a two-point function (found in some ...
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4answers
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Deriving Newton's Third Law from homogeneity of Space

I am following the first volume of the course of theoretical physics by Landau. So, whatever I say below mainly talks regarding the first 2 chapters of Landau and the approach of deriving Newton's ...
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1answer
161 views

Quantum tunneling in Field theory with Time dependent potential

What should be the limits of integration for euclidean action $S(\phi)$ in 3d and 4d? This action is negatively exponentiated to calculate the decay rate. I suspect that it is variable limit problem. ...
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5answers
860 views

What is the Lagrangian for a relativistic charge that includes the self-force?

The usual Lagrangian for a relativistically moving charge, as found in most text books, doesn't take into account the self force from it radiating EM energy. So what is the Lagrangian for a ...