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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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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3answers
180 views

Constructing Supersymmetric Lagrangians

It is a very trivial doubt but somehow I am not able to figure it out. While constructing a supersymmetric lagrangian we always even number of fermionic fields. One reason is of course the product ...
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3answers
4k views

What exactly are Hamiltonian Mechanics (and Lagrangian mechanics)

What exactly are Hamiltonian Mechanics (and Lagrangian mechanics)? I want to self-study QM, and I've heard from most people that Hamiltonian mechanics is a prereq. So I wikipedia'd it and the entry ...
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1answer
435 views

Two masses with interacting forces and an external force

Two masses in 3d space attract each other with a potential relative to the distance between them. There is also an external force on each particle based on the distance from a origin. I want to find ...
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1answer
394 views

Generalized momentum conjugate and potential $U(q, \dot q)$

On Goldstein's "Classical Mechanics" (first ed.), I have read that if $q_j$ is a cyclic coordinate, its generalized momentum conjugate $p_j$ is costant. He obtained that starting from Lagrange's ...
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1answer
362 views

How to tell local and non-local in QFT?

I'm taking QFT course in this term. I'm quite curious that in QFT by which part of the mathematical expression can we tell a quantity or a theory is local or non-local?
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1answer
126 views

Non-relativistic Kepler orbits

Consider the Newtonian gravitational potential at a distance of Sun: $$\varphi \left ( r \right )~=~-\frac{GM}{r}.$$ I write the classical Lagrangian in spherical coordinates for a planet with mass ...
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1answer
288 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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1answer
150 views

Symmetries of spacetime and objects over it

I guess according to mathematical didactic, we first think of spacetime as a set and we reason about elements of its topology and then it's furthermore equipped with a metric. Appearently it is this ...
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2answers
320 views

Kugo and Ojima's Canonical Formulation of Yang-Mills using BRST

I am trying to study the canonical formulation of Yang-Mills theories so that I have direct access to the $n$-particle of the theory (i.e. the Hilbert Space). To that end, I am following Kugo and ...
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1answer
201 views

Clarification on a Goldstein formula steps (classical mechanics)

At page 20 of Classical Mechanics' Goldstein (Third edition), there are these two steps given between eqs. (1.51) and (1.52): $$\sum_i m_i \ddot {\bf r}_i \cdot \frac{\partial {\bf r_i}}{ \partial ...
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2answers
403 views

Can auxiliary fields be thought of as Lagrange multipliers?

In the BRST formalism of gauge theories, the Lautrup-Nakanishi field $B^a(x)$ appears as an auxiliary variable $$\mathcal{L}_\text{BRST}=-\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu\nu}^a F^{a\,\mu\nu}+\frac{1}{2}\xi B^a B^a + ...
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5answers
2k views

Why does no physical energy-momentum tensor exist for the gravitational field?

Starting with the Einstein-Hilbert Lagrangian $$ L_{EH} = -\frac{1}{2}(R + 2\Lambda)$$ one can formally calculate a gravitational energy-momentum tensor $$ T_{EH}^{\mu\nu} = -2 \frac{\delta ...
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2answers
436 views

Landau Mechanics: why does adding Lagrangians remove the indefiniteness of multiplying each Lagrangian by a different constant?

In Landau Mechanics (third edition page 4), why does adding Lagrangians of two non interacting parts remove the indefiniteness of multiplying each Lagrangian by a different constant? If both systems ...
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2answers
601 views

Partial derivative of Lagrangian density for vector field

The lagrangian density of a massless vector field is $ \mathcal{L} = -\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu\nu}F^{\mu\nu}$, where $F_{\mu\nu}=\partial_{\mu}A_{\nu}-\partial_{\nu}A_{\mu}$ Expanding out gives ...
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1answer
282 views

Can I find a potential function in the usual way if the central field contains $t$ in its magnitude?

I'm working on a classical mechanics problem in which the problem states that a particle of mass $m$ moves in a central field of attractive force of magnitude: $$F(r, t) = \frac{k}{r^2}e^{-at}$$ ...
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2answers
597 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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1answer
383 views

Why has the trace of the energy-momentum tensor to vanish for conserved scaling currents to exist?

In this paper, the authors say that the trace of the energy-momentum tensor has to vanish to allow for the existence of conserved dilatation or scaling currents, as defined on p 10, Eq(22) $$ ...
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6answers
3k 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 ...
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0answers
173 views

Describing the movement of the object in a particular situation in Lagrangian way

Suppose there is a object M, (sliding motion) moving by the initial speed $v$ and the initial location $x_0$. Otherwise noted, friction is assumed to be nonexistent. It then meets a circular mold ...
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1answer
408 views

Questions regarding solving the Brachistochrone problem using Lagrangian

brachistochrone problem: Suppose that there is a rollercoaster. There is point 1 ($0,0$) and point 2 ($x_2, y_2)$. Point 1 is at the higher place when compared to the point 2, so the rollercoaster ...
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2answers
807 views

The Lagrangian in Scalar Field Theory

This is perhaps a naive question, but why do we write down the Lagrangian $$\mathcal{L}=\frac{1}{2}\eta^{\mu\nu}\partial_{\mu}\phi\partial_{\nu}\phi - \frac{1}{2}m^2\phi^2$$ as the simplest ...
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2answers
369 views

What are the reasons for leaving the dissipative energy term out of the Hamiltonian when writing the Lyapunov function?

I have a problem with one of my study questions for an oral exam: The Hamiltonian of a nonlinear mechanical system, i.e. the sum of the kinetic and potential energies, is often used as a Lyapunov ...
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3answers
422 views

Can the Euler-Lagrange equations be derived from an infinitesimal Principle of Least Action?

The Euler-Lagrange equations can be derived from the Principle of Least Action using integration by parts and the fact that the variation is zero at the end points. This has a mystical air about it, ...
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1answer
431 views

Time dependent Lagrangian

Suppose I have a mechanical system with $\ell + m$ degrees of freedom and an associated Lagrangian: $$L(\alpha, \beta, \dot{\alpha}, \dot{\beta}, t),$$ where $\alpha \in \mathbb{R}^{\ell}$ and $\beta ...
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2answers
568 views

Charge, velocity-dependent potentials and Lagrangian

Given an electric charge $q$ of mass $m$ moving at a velocity ${\bf v}$ in a region containing both electric field ${\bf E}(t,x,y,z)$ and magnetic field ${\bf B}(t,x,y,z)$ (${\bf B}$ and ${\bf E}$ are ...
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1answer
455 views

About turbulence modeling

I have some questions about this paper: Lagrangian/Hamiltonian formalism for description of Navier-Stokes fluids. R. J. Becker. Phys. Rev. Lett. 58 no. 14 (1987), pp. 1419-1422. After reading ...
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2answers
353 views

How to think of the harmonic oscillator equation in terms of “acceleration = gradient”

This is related to another question I just asked where I learned that the equation of motion of a harmonic oscillator is expressed as: $$\ddot{x}+kx=0$$ What little physics I grasp centers on ...
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2answers
303 views

Can cos(x) or sin(x) be the function of stationary action?

Is there a way to express $\cos(x(t))$ (or $\sin(x(t))$) as the solution to the Euler-Lagrange equation, in other words is there a sense in which this function is the path of stationary action?
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1answer
504 views

Lagrangian dynamics with initial conditions: motion of free particle

I am very new to Lagrangian dynamics so I am trying to get my head around the practical usage. So far on here all I could find were proofs and they did not make much sense to me, especially when time ...
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2answers
487 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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2answers
293 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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4answers
924 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 ...
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4answers
2k views

Lagrangian to Hamiltonian in Quantum Field Theory

While deriving Hamiltonian from Lagrangian density, we use the formula $$\mathcal{H} ~=~ \pi \dot{\phi} - \mathcal{L}.$$ But since we are considering space and time as parameters, why the formula ...
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2answers
977 views

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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3answers
614 views

What is the difference between manifest Lorentz invariance and canonical Lorentz invariance?

I often read that the Lorentz symmetry is manifest in the path integral formulation but is not in the canonical quantization - what does this really mean?
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1answer
359 views

speed of sound and the potential energy of an ideal gas; Goldstein derivation

I am looking the derivation of the speed of sound in Goldstein's Classical Mechanics (sec. 11-3, pp. 356-358, 1st ed). In order to write down the Lagrangian, he needs the kinetic and potential ...
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1answer
313 views

Lagrangian and Equilibrium Points

I'm wondering whether you can tell quickly just from looking at a Lagrangian whether a given point $q^0$ is an equilibrium point. Obviously all you have to do is verify it satisfies the E-L equations, ...
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8answers
4k views

Why are L4 and L5 lagrangian points stable?

This diagram from wikipedia shows the gravitational potential energy of the sun-earth two body system, and demonstrates clearly the semi-stability of the L1, L2, and L3 lagrangian points. The blue ...
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1answer
485 views

Lagrangian density for a Piano String

So I'm trying to do this problem where I'm given the Lagrangian density for a piano string which can vibrate both transversely and longitudinally. $\eta(x,t)$ is the transverse displacement and ...
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1answer
260 views

Improved energy-momentum tensor

While still dealing with this issue, I've stumbled upon this answer to a question asking about the conserved quantity corresponding to a scaling transformation. It mentions that in accordance with ...
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2answers
214 views

Is the gravitational constant G a minimum value in some sense?

Assume a central body of mass $M$, and call $a$ the acceleration of a test body at a distance $r$ due to any interaction whatsoever with the central body. Is is correct to say that the ratio $a r^2/ ...
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1answer
1k views

How do you know if a coordinate is cyclic if its generalized velocity is not present in the Lagrangian?

Goldstein's Classical Mechanics says that a cyclic coordinate is one that doesn't appear in the Lagrangian of the system, even though its generalized velocity may appear in it (emphasis mine). For ...
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1answer
308 views

Elementary derivation of the motion equations for an inverted pendulum on a cart

Consider a cart of mass $M$ constrained to move on the horizontal axis. A massless rod is attached to the midpoint of the cart, having a mass $m$ on its endpoint. See wikipedia for a picture and for a ...
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2answers
580 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?
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2answers
2k views

Deriving Lagrangian density for electromagnetic field

In considering the (special) relativistic EM field, I understand that assuming a Lagrangian density of the form $$\mathcal{L} =-\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu\nu}F^{\mu\nu} + \frac{1}{c}j_\mu A^\mu$$ and ...
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1answer
263 views

Do Lagrangian points actually maintain a fixed distance?

I was reading on up Lagrangian points and the restricted three-body problem. From what I was able to tell, the Lagrangian points are 5 points in a two-body system such that a third body would be ...
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1answer
149 views

Cyclic co-ordinates implying the constant velocity motion of center of mass of a system of particles

I'm reading the section on Central Force in my textbook (Goldstein's Classical Mechanics has a similar argument in the chapter titled "The Central Force Problem", first section), where we have the ...
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2answers
380 views

Advice on classes: Theoretical Mechanics vs E&M II

So I'm having a tough time deciding between courses next semester. I'm a rising 3rd year undergrad math major whose goal is to get a solid understanding of theoretical physics through advanced math ...
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1answer
372 views

Question about units in Lagrangian dynamics (inertia matrix)

I have a 3 degree of freedom system and my equation of motion is like this: $$M(q)q_{dd} + C(q,q_d)q_d+G(q)~=~0$$ $M(q)$: inertia matrix $C(q,q_d)$: Coriolis-centrifugal matrix $G(q)$: potential ...