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 Euler-Lagrange equation in special relativity

How can I derive the Euler-Lagrange equations valid in the field of special relativity? Specifically, consider a scalar field.
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870 views

Is there a proof from the first principle that the Lagrangian L = T - V?

Is there a proof from the first principle that for the Lagrangian $L$, $$L = T\text{(kinetic energy)} - V\text{(potential energy)}$$ in classical mechanics? Assume that Cartesian coordinates are ...
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300 views

What makes an equation an 'equation of motion'?

Every now and then, I find myself reading papers/text talking about how this equation is a constraint but that equation is an equation of motion which satisfies this constraint. For example, in the ...
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955 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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432 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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395 views

Recovering all of Maxwell's equations from the variational principle

Whether you can get the first couple of Maxwell equations from a variational principle? In the second volume of the Landau theoretical physics said that it is impossible.
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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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231 views

Are the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian always convex functions?

The Hamiltonian and Lagrangian are related by a Legendre transform: $$ H(\mathbf{q}, \mathbf{p}, t) = \sum_i \dot q_i p_i - \mathcal{L}(\mathbf{q}, \mathbf{\dot q}, t). $$ For this to be a Legendre ...
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268 views

Lagrangian for Goldstone mode + topological excitation

The XY-model Hamiltonian is the following, $${\cal H}~=~-J\sum_{\langle i,j\rangle} \cos (\theta_i -\theta_j).$$ The Goldstone mode corresponds to term $(\nabla \theta)^2$ in the effective ...
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608 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 ...
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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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What is Quantization?

In classical mechanics you construct an action (involving a Lagrangian in arbitrary generalized coordinates, a Hamiltonian in canonical coordinates [to make your EOM more "convenient & ...
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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 ...
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349 views

Does the action and Lagrangian have identical symmetries and conserved quantities?

From the book Introduction to Classical Mechanics With Problems and Solutions by David Morin, page 236 states: Noether's Theorem: For each symmetry of the Lagrangian, there is a conserved ...
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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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How to use Euler-Lagrange when Lagrangian is $L=\sqrt{t}\sqrt{1+(dy/dt)^2}$

In this Lagrangian problem, action is $$S = \int_{t_1}^{t_2} \sqrt{t}\sqrt{1+\dot{y}^2} \,\,dt$$ where $\dot{y} = dy/dt$ and $t_1$ and $t_2$ are some fixed points. I tried to solve this problem using ...
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What is canonical momentum?

What does the canonical momentum $\textbf{p}=m\textbf{v}+e\textbf{A}$ mean? Is it just momentum accounting for electromagnetic effects?
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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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Lagrangian formalism and Contact Bundles

In his Applied Differential Geometry book, William Burke says the following after telling that the action should be the integral of a function $L$: A line integral makes geometric sense only if ...
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197 views

Orbit through L4 and L5

I was reading the Wikipedia article on Lagrangian points and doing the requisite wiki walk through the various quasi-satellites of Earth when a question occurred to me: Could there be a stable or ...
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Maxwells Equation from Electromagnetic Lagrangian

In Heaviside-Lorentz units the Maxwell's equations are: $$\nabla \cdot \vec{E} = \rho $$ $$ \nabla \times \vec{B} - \frac{\partial \vec{E}}{\partial t} = \vec{J}$$ $$ \nabla \times \vec{E} + ...
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Why can't we obtain a Hamiltonian by substituting?

This question may sound a bit dumb. Why can't we obtain the Hamiltonian of a system simply by finding $\dot{q}$ in terms of $p$ and then evaluating the Lagrangian with $\dot{q} = \dot{q}(p)$? Wouldn't ...
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Why so many arguments for the transformation equations of generalized coordinates?

For a system of $N$ particles with $k$ holonomic constraints, their Cartesian coordinates are expressed in terms of generalized coordinates as $$\mathbf{r}_1 = \mathbf{r}_1(q_1, q_2,..., q_{3N-k}, ...
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Noether theorem with semigroup of symmetry instead of group

Suppose You have semigroup instead of typical group construction in Noether theorem. Is this interesting? In fact there is no time-reversal symmetry in the nature, right? At least not in the same ...
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556 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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In Path Integrals, lagrangian or hamiltonian are fundamental?

When studying path-integrals one question arose to my mind... Which presentation is more fundamental to calculate the propagator? The one based on the Hamiltonian (phase space)? $$K(B|A) = \int ...
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538 views

Functional derivative in Lagrangian field theory

The following functional derivative holds: \begin{align} \frac{\delta q(t)}{\delta q(t')} ~=~ \delta(t-t') \end{align} and \begin{align} \frac{\delta \dot{q}(t)}{\delta q(t')} ~=~ \delta'(t-t') ...
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Does anybody know of any good sources that explain (generically) how we form Lagrangians/Actions/Superpotentials for different field content?

I regularly find that I'll understand where the field content in a particular physics paper comes from, but then a Lagrangian or action or superpotential is stated and I don't know how it's derived. ...
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115 views

Why are these two definitions for symmetries in the Lagrangian equivalent?

I have heard the following two definitions for a symmetry of the Lagrangian: If under a coordinate transformation the form of the Lagrangian remains unchanged then there is a symmetry. If $\delta ...
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280 views

How do we know if a formulation of classical mechanics is correct?

For example, the Lagrangian formulation. I may be missing something, i.e. not having done it in enough detail, but here is my issue: from the definition of the lagrangian ($\mathcal{L}$) and from ...
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129 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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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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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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425 views

What corresponds to this Lagrangian density?

Is there a physical example of a field that would have the following Lagrangian density $$ L= \sqrt{1+\phi_x^2 +\phi_y^2+\phi_z^2} $$ where the subscripts denote partial derivatives and $\phi$ is a ...
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Invariance of action $\Rightarrow$ covariance of field equations?

Invariance of action $\Rightarrow$ covariance of field equations? Is this statement true? I have only seen examples of this, like the invariance of Electromagnetic action under Lorentz ...
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319 views

Why not formulate Quantum Mechanics using Lagrangians? [duplicate]

As the title implies, why is it that the most common formalisms we use in quantum mechanics prefer to describe systems in the terms of a Hamiltionian instead of a Lagrangian? Is there some ...
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463 views

Lagrangian of 2D square lattice of point masses connected by springs

Zee's QFT book mentions the Lagrangian of a square 2D horizontal lattice of point masses, connected by springs, and considering only vertical displacements $q_{i}$, as $ L = \frac{1}{2} ...
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Naive questions on the concept of effective Lagrangian and equations of motion?

Let us consider a LC circuit containing an electric dipole moment, the quantum system (electric field $E$ coupled with a dipole moment) can be described by the path integral $$Z=\int DEDxe^{i\int ...
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Heuristic Motivation for Lagrangian Formalism

Does anyone know a good heuristic motivation for the Lagrangian Formalism? I think most physicist just accept at one point that it works and thats that. I think I understand the historic origin. ...
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Why is it so coincident that Palatini variation of Einstein-Hilbert action will obtain an equation that connection is Levi-Civita connection?

There are two ways to do the variation of Einstein-Hilbert action. First one is Einstein formalism which takes only metric independent. After variation of action, we get the Einstein field equation. ...
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Lie algebra of axial charges

Starting from the lagrangian (linear sigma model without symmetry breaking, here $N$ is the nucleon doublet and $\tau_a$ are pauli matrices) $L=\bar Ni\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu N+ \frac{1}{2} ...
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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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Mechanical similarity in Landau

I've read this very short paragraph from Landau & Lifshitz's Mechanics (Chap.2, Par.10) (that you can find here) about Mechanical similarity. I was looking for some more detailed explanations of ...
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Why is lagrangian density correct?

The textbooks I have available explain that due to the infinite degrees of freedom of a field, the relevant object in QFT is the lagrangian density. A lagrangian is then obtained for the field by ...
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Finding 3-Sphere Christoffel connection coefficients using variational calculus, Sean Carrol problem

I have A 3-Sphere with coordinates $x^{\mu} = (\psi,\theta,\phi)$ and the following metric: \begin{equation} ds^2 = d\psi^2 + \text{sin}^2\psi(d\theta^2 + \text{sin}^2\theta d\phi^2) \end{equation} ...
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Free Field theory to Interacting Field theory

Free field theory: Why is it said that different Fourier modes in case of a free field (say, real Klein-Gordon field) are independent of each other? Interacting field theory: How exactly does the ...
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Derivation of the Polyakov Action

As is usually done when first presenting string theory, the Nambu-Goto Action, $$ S_{\text{NG}}:=-T\int d\tau d\sigma \sqrt{-g} $$ ($g:=\det (g_{\alpha \beta})$ is the induced metric on the ...
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315 views

Eigenvalues of the Lagrangian?

It is often stated that the Lagrangian formalism and the Hamiltonian formalism are equivalent. We often hear people talk about eigenvalues of Hamiltonians but I have never ever heard a word about ...
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71 views

Why the extra term $\frac{1}{2}(\partial_{\rho}A^{\rho})^2$ in the photon Lagrangian?

In my quantum field theory class we have been told to use this Lagrangian for the photon field $$\mathcal{L}=-\frac{1}{4}F_{\alpha\beta}F^{\alpha\beta} -\frac{1}{2}(\partial_{\rho}A^{\rho})^2.$$ but ...
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684 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.