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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Energy-Momentum Tensor for Electromagnetism in Curved Space

$\newcommand{\l}{\mathcal L} \newcommand{\g}{\sqrt{-g}}$$\newcommand{\fdv}[2]{\frac{\delta #1}{\delta #2}}$I want to calculate the energy-momentum tensor in curved free space by functional ...
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2answers
214 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 ...
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1answer
747 views

Why does Quantum Field Theory use Lagrangians rather than Hamiltonains? [duplicate]

Why does Quantum Field Theory use usually Lagrangians rather than Hamiltonains? I heard many reasons, but I'm not sure which is true. Some say it's just a matter of beauty, so Lagrangians are more ...
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883 views

Hanging chain in a planet's gravitational field

The curve for a chain hanging between two poles in a uniform gravitational field is known as the catenary. Is there known an expression for the curve of a hanging chain on a planet of mass $M$ which ...
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154 views

Getting the Lagrangian from the action in curved spacetime

Suppose I have this action: $$ S = \int \mathrm d^4 x\sqrt{-g}\times \text{something}$$ where $g$ is the determinant of the metric. Should I take the Lagrangian to be: $$ \mathcal L = \sqrt{-g} ...
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588 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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1answer
541 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
491 views

When is the principle of stationary action not the principle of least action?

I've only had a very brief introduction to Lagrangian mechanics. In a physics course I took last year, we briefly covered the principle of stationary action --- we looked at it, derived some equations ...
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231 views

Several stationary points of the action functional

In QFT the principle of stationary action states that we choose fields that will make the action stationary but what if the action has many stationary points (for a fixed choice of boundary ...
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173 views

Landau's argument for dependence of Lagrangian on magnitude of velocity

In chapter 1, of Landau-Lifshitz Mechanics' book, Landau through isotropy and homogeneity of space and homogeneity of time proves that the Lagrangian must depend of magnitude of velocity of the ...
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1answer
248 views

Lagrange Multipliers Versus Generalized Coordinates

When forced to explain to someone why one could either set up a general Lagrangian & then incorporate constraints using Lagrange multipliers, as opposed to just setting up a Lagrangian with ...
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356 views

The “stationary potential energy” condition for static equilibrium in mechanical systems

I've often read that, for a mechanical system which can be described by $n$ generalized coordinates $q_1,...,q_n$, a point $\mathbf{Q}=(Q_1,...,Q_n)$ is a point of equilibrium if and only if the ...
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329 views

A kind of Noether's theorem for the Hamiltonian

How can I (conveniently?) show that an invariance of the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian (i.e. the kinetic as well as the potential energy are independently invariant) will lead to a conservation law using ...
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103 views

Lagrangian $L' = L + \frac{df}{dt}$ gives the same equations of motion

It is well known that when a Lagrangian $L$ is incremented by the total time derivative of a function $f$ that does not depend on the time derivatives of the generalized coordinates, the same ...
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125 views

Pass to globally conserved currents from locally conserved currents in curved spacetime

Let us begin with a Lagrangian of the form $$\mathscr L= \frac 12 \sqrt{-g}g^{\mu\nu}\partial_\mu\phi(x)\partial_\nu\phi(x)+\mathscr L_g,$$ where $$\mathscr L_g=\frac 1{16\pi k}\sqrt{-g}R.$$ ...
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146 views

Legendre transform for non-local Lagrangians, or Hamiltonian of non-local Lagrangian and their properties

This is sort of a multi-part question, mostly dealing with how to treat non-local Hamiltonians and how the corresponding properties of Hamiltonians work in a non-local framework. I proposed an example ...
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1answer
294 views

Why is the Hamiltonian the Legendre transform of the Lagrangian?

So, as the title says, why is the Hamiltonian the Legendre transform of the Lagrangian? I know that from quantum mechanics, one can start with the Hamiltonian defined as the generator of time ...
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1answer
128 views

Curvilinear Coordinates and basis vectors

In these notes, $\frac{\partial \vec{r}} {\partial q_i}$ is stated to form a basis set for the vector space. How does this happen? Also, how does one justify this equation from Goldstein's ...
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881 views

Symmetry of Euler-Lagrange equations and conservation laws

Continuous symmetry of the action implies a conservation law, but what if equations of motion have a continuous symmetry? Does it imply a conservation law? Also is symmetry of equations of motion ...
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109 views

Independent systems and Lagrangians

Definition 1: The notion of independent systems has a precise meaning in probabilities. It states that the (joint) probability or finding the system ($S_1S_2$) in the configuration ($C_1C_2$) is ...
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272 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 ...
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407 views

Calculating the (on-shell) action of a free particle

I am having difficulty with the first problem from Feynman and Hibbs' book. For a free particle $L = (m/2)\dot{x}^2$. Show that the (on-shell) action $S_{cl}$ corresponding to the classical ...
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508 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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1answer
384 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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1answer
111 views

How does one express a Lagrangian and Action in the language of forms?

In Lipschitzs Classical Mechanics a Lagrangian is defined as: $L(q,q',t)$ for some trajectory $q(t)$ of a particle And the action is defined as: $S:=\int^a_b L(q,q',t) dt$ How does one ...
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72 views

Computation of $T^{\mu\nu}$ from Lagrangian density $\mathscr{L} $

I am trying to understand how upper and lower indices are connected when computing the energy-momentum tensor. In particular, I found the simple problem where the Lagrangian density is given as ...
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115 views

Does a symmetry necessarily leave the action invariant?

A symmetry maps a configuration with stationary action to another configuration with stationary action. However, does it necessarily preserve the value of the action exactly? It seems that it should ...
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59 views

Confusion with potential in simple pendulum

I'm a maths student taking a course in classical mechanics and I'm having some confusion with the definition of a potential. If we consider a simple pendulum then the forces acting on the end are ...
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1answer
132 views

Total derivative in action of the field theory

Consider a classical field theory. When applying the least action I see that a term is considered total derivative. We say that $$\int \partial_\mu (\frac {\partial L}{\partial(\partial_\mu ...
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1answer
291 views

The BRST construction for YM with or without auxiliary field

I'm learning BRST symmetry for Yang-Mills theory and I see that there are two ways of writing BRST differential. In some books (for example Ryder's and Ramond's textbooks) BRST differential acts as ...
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1answer
128 views

Is it possible to project a problem of mechanics in a lower dimensionality?

I had the intuition that, in classical mechanics, when the trajectory of a body is known, then analysis of its motion can be done in the linear space of that trajectory, if all forces are projected on ...
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2k views

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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1answer
737 views

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

I've read that the Polyakov action using an intrinsic metric $h_{\alpha\beta}$ $$\tag{1} S_P ~=~ -\frac{T}{2}\int d^2 \sigma \sqrt{-h}h^{\alpha\beta} \partial_{\alpha}X^{\mu}\partial_{\beta}X^{\nu} ...
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597 views

Type of stationary point in Hamilton's principle

In this question it is discussed why by Hamilton's principle the action integral must be stationary. Most examples deal with the case that the action integral is minimal: this makes sense - we all ...
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1answer
54 views

Is local chiral symmetry qualitatively the same as gauge symmetries?

I am confused by the role that local chiral symmetry plays in chiral perturbation theory. For the case of chiral QCD with three quark flavors, the Lagrangian is invariant under global ...
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114 views

Peskin and Schroeder passive and active translation

In peskin and Schroeder's qft book, in chapter two, they're discussing Noether's theorem with respect to translations of co-ordinates. They describe and "infinitesimal" translation $x^\mu\rightarrow ...
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1answer
186 views

Boundary term in Einstein-Hilbert action

Why is the boundary term in the Einstein-Hilbert action, the Gibbons-Hawking-York term, generally "missing" in General Relativity courses, IMPORTANT from the variational viewpoint, geometrical setting ...
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604 views

Lagrangian for relativistic massless particle

For relativistic massive particle, the action is $$S ~=~ -m_0 \int ds ~=~ -m_0 \int d\lambda ~(\dot x ^\mu \dot x_\mu)^{\frac{1}{2}} ~=~ \int d\lambda \ L,$$ where $ds$ is the proper time of the ...
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76 views

Why is the Legendre transformation an application of the duality relationship between points and lines?

When I read the Wiki about Legendre transformation, there is a statement The Legendre transformation is an application of the duality relationship between points and lines. What's the meaning of ...
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111 views

Can I really take the classical field equations at face value in QFT?

To be concrete, let's say I have a relativistic $\phi^4$ theory [with Minkowski signature $(+,-,-,-)$] $$ \tag{1} \mathcal{L} ~=~ \frac{1}{2} \left ( \partial_{\mu} \phi \partial^{\mu} \phi - m^2 ...
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1answer
763 views

Noether current for the Yang-mills-higgs lagrangian

I am trying to calculate the Noether's current, more specifically, the energy density of the Yang-mills-Higgs Lagrangian. Please refer to the equations in the Harvey lectures on Magnetic Monopoles, ...
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1answer
80 views

In the context of quantum field theory, what does it mean to “couple” something?

Suppose I have the following Lagrangian density \begin{equation} \mathcal{L} = - \frac{1}{4} F_{\mu\nu}F^{\mu\nu} \end{equation} The lecture notes I an reading suggest if I want to "couple to ...
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1answer
248 views

Does time invariance conclude conservation of energy? [closed]

I find it hard to understand that time-translation invariance necessarily implies conservation of energy. As I understand it, Noether's theorem says that there is an energy conservation because the ...
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2answers
157 views

Why do the $1/2$ factor appear in the Majorana mass Lagrangian?

In case of Dirac neutrino there is no $1/2$ factor in the mass Lagrangian but for Majorana type neutrino there is a half factor in the mass Lagrangian.
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1answer
410 views

Sufficient conditions for the energy to be not conserved?

I'm almost embarrased to ask this question because I thought I was by now very confident with classical mechanics. Someone has stated that given a mechanical system with a Lagrangian $L$ s.t. ...
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1answer
102 views

Reference Request: Fluid dynamics/Elasticity via Lagrangians

Would there be a book that does what Landau does in Fluid Mechanics and Theory of Elasticity using Lagrangian's/Action-principles, analogous to the presentation in Landau's mechanics? I have only ...
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126 views

Non-local structure of field theory

Can someone explain what is non-local structure of field theory? I know you cannot have $\phi(x) \phi(y)$ term in Lagrangian which indicates the non-locality. However, why I cannot have the non-local ...
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96 views

How the lagrangian density is found?

In Classical Mechanics one usually considers the Lagrangian as $L = K - U$ where $K$ is the kinetic energy of the system and $U$ is the potential energy. One then gets the Euler-Lagrange equations and ...
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247 views

Non-local Lagrangian contact interaction

Conside a contact interaction given by a delta function on their worldlines. Use a gauge fixed Lagrangian for two point particles in terms of their proper times $t$ and $t^{\prime}$. Is it possible to ...
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403 views

What is the mathematical justification for the quadratic approximation to the energy of a spring in a one-dimensional lattice?

It follows easily from this draw, the length $l$ of this spring as a function of the vertical distance $x$, as $l(x)=\sqrt{1+x^{2}}$ Now, $l$ can be expressed as a MacLaurin expansion: $$l(x) = ...