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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Why are coordinates and velocities sufficient to completely determine the state and determine the subsequent motion of a mechanical system?

I am a Physics undergraduate, so provide references with your responses. Landau & Lifshitz write in page one of their mechanics textbook: If all the co-ordinates and velocities are ...
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2answers
779 views

Is there a conserved quantity that enforces planar orbits in central force motion?

From what I remember, one of the first steps in finding the equations of motion for an orbiting body is to argue that the body's motion has to be restricted to a plane, because the central force has ...
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290 views

Hamiltonian from a Lagrangian with constraints?

Let's say I have the Lagrangian: $$L=T-V.$$ Along with the constraint that $$f\equiv f(\vec q,t)=0.$$ We can then write: $$L'=T-V+\lambda f. $$ What is my Hamiltonian now? Is it $$H'=\dot q_i p_i ...
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190 views

Are there measurable effects to scaling the action by a constant?

Classically, we obtain the equations of motion by finding a path which has an action that is stationary with respect to small changes in the path. That is the path for which: $\delta S =0$ Scaling ...
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1answer
304 views

Which transformations *aren't* symmetries of a Lagrangian?

As far as I understand, Noether's theorem for fields works, as explained in David Tong's QFT lecture notes (page 14) for example, by saying that a transformation $\phi(x) \mapsto \phi(x) + \delta \phi ...
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850 views

Lagrangian mechanics and time derivative on general coordinates

I am reading a book on analytical mechanics on Lagrangian. I get a bit idea on the method: we can use any coordinates and write down the kinetic energy $T$ and potential $V$ in terms of the general ...
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334 views

Higher order derivatives - Equation of motion

One possible starting point to create a physical theory is the Lagrangian $L$. There we assume that the variation of the action $\delta S = \delta \int_{-\infty}^\infty dt \ L = 0$. In classical ...
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2k views

Euler-Lagrange equations and friction forces

We can derive Lagrange equations supposing that the virtual work of a system is zero. $$\delta W=\sum_i (\mathbf{F}_i-\dot {\mathbf{p}_i})\delta \mathbf{r}_i=\sum_i ...
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312 views

Constructing Lagrangian from the Hamiltonian

Given the Lagrangian $L$ for a system, we can construct the hamiltonian $H$ using the definition $H=\sum\limits_{i}p_i\dot{q}_i-L$ where $p_i=\frac{\partial L}{\partial \dot{q}_i}$. Therefore, to ...
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1answer
2k views

Deriving D'Alembert's Principle

The wiki article states that D'Alembert's Principle cannot derived from Newton's Laws alone and must stated as a postulate. Can someone explain why this is? It seems to me a rather obvious principle.
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925 views

Global phase symmetry for complex scalar field theory

I have started to study QFT. And I have some difficulties in such classical situation. Suppose i want to calculate $\frac{\partial \mathcal{L}}{\partial (\partial_\mu \phi)}\phi$ for lagrangian ...
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1answer
2k views

Lagrangian and conservation of energy

If Lagrangian of the motion is $$\mathcal{L}=\frac{1}{2}m\left(a^2\dot\phi^2+a^2\dot\theta^2\sin^2\phi\right)+mga\cos\phi,$$ how can I show that total mechanical energy is conserved? I've read ...
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6k views

How is a Hamiltonian constructed from a Lagrangian with a Legendre transform

many textbooks tell me that Hamiltonians are constructed from Lagrangians like $$L=L(q,\dot{q})$$ with a Legendre transformation to obtain the Hamiltonian as $$H=\dot{q}\frac{\partial L}{\partial ...
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919 views

Relating generalized momentum, generalized velocity, and kinetic energy: $2T~=~\sum_i p_{i}\dot{q}^{i}$

According to equation (6) on the first page of some lecture notes online, the above equation is used to prove the virial theorem. For rectangular coordinates, the relation $$ 2T~=~\sum_i ...
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1answer
276 views

Definition of Local Function

Now a days I am studying Srednicki's QFT book. In its third chapter it is written that Any local function of φ(x) is a Lorentz scalar, [...] . Now my question is: What is a local function?
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4answers
793 views

Why the Hamiltonian and the Lagrangian are used interchangeably in QFT perturbation calculations

Whenever one needs to calculate correlation functions in QFT using perturbations one encounters the following expression: $\langle 0| some\ operators \times \exp(iS_{(t)}) |0\rangle$ where, ...
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3answers
908 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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3answers
122 views

Lagrangian from Path Integral

Suppose I somehow know propagator for a given quantum mechanical system but I don't happen to know either the Lagrangian or Hamiltonian. (For simplicity, assume that this is non-relativistic.) Is ...
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3answers
213 views

Why are complex fields in the Lagrangian?

I know that a complex field has twice the number of degrees of freedom of a real field, and that fields (in QFT) aren't observables so we don't really care if they are real. But why the need for ...
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1answer
61 views

What is it that Lagrangian density with only bilinear terms always corresponds to free field theory?

Is there an intuitive proof of this fact? (Maybe connected in some way to Central Limit Theorem?).
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363 views

Trouble with Landau & Lifshitz

Hello I have a quick question on what I have been reading in Landau & Lifshitz's book on classical mechanics. I am in the very beginning of the book and I am having trouble with his derivation on ...
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2answers
359 views

Classical Field Theory - Continuum limit in forming the Lagrangian density and the elasticity modulus

I have been looking at taking the continuum limit for a linear elastic rod of length $l$ modeled by a series of masses each of mass $m$ connected via massless springs of spring constant $k$. The ...
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1answer
270 views

Missing terms in Hamiltonian after Legendre transformation of Lagrangian

Short question Given any Lagrangian density of fields one could possibly conceive, is it the case that after one has performed a Legendre transformation, if the Hamiltonian is then expressed in terms ...
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2answers
442 views

Accounting for metric tensor derivatives in Einstein-Hilbert action

I'm puzzling over the canonical derivation of GR from the Einstein-Hilbert action; getting the derivation to gel with an explicit treatment of the functional derivative isn't working out. So the ...
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1answer
2k views

Explicit time dependence of the Lagrangian and Energy Conservation

Why is energy(or in more general terms,the Hamiltonian) not conserved when the Lagrangian has an explicit time dependence? I know that we can derive the identity: $\frac{\partial ...
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5answers
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Good book for Analytical Mechanics

What is a good book for Analytical Mechanics? To be more specific, I would prefer a book that: Is written "for mathematicians", i.e. with high mathematics precision (for example, with less emphasis ...
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2answers
321 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
7k views

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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1answer
534 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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2answers
244 views

Non-relativistic QFT Lagrangian for fermions

Take the ordinary Hamiltonian from non-relativistic quantum mechanics expressed in terms of the fermi fields $\psi(\mathbf{x})$ and $\psi^\dagger(\mathbf{x})$ (as derived, for example, by A. L. Fetter ...
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1answer
78 views

What is the phase of a gauge coupling?

We typically take gauge couplings to be real and positive. Why do we impose these two conditions? I assume this is a requirement because gauge theories without positive couplings are unphysical or is ...
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1answer
162 views

Lagrangian description of Brownian motion?

I'm interested in the existence of a Lagrangian field theory description of Bronwnian motion, does such a thing exist? Given a particle of some spin $\sigma$, which has a Lagrangian associated with ...
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1answer
163 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 ...
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1answer
612 views

Lorentz force equation from relativistic Lagrangian

The relativistic Lagrangian is given by $$L = - m_0 c^2 \sqrt{1 - \frac{u^2}{c^2}} + \frac{q}{c} (\vec u \cdot \vec A) - q \Phi $$ I need to derive, $\displaystyle \frac{d\vec p}{dt} = q \left( \vec E ...
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1answer
178 views

Does a Lagrangian imply a well-defined quantum Hamiltonianian with a Hilbert space?

The question is about: (1) whether giving a Lagrangian is sufficient enough to (uniquely) well-define a Hamiltonianian quantum theory with a Hilbert space? The answer should be Yes, or No. If ...
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1answer
860 views

How do you derive Lagrange's equation of motion from a Routhian?

Given a Routhian $R(r,\dot{r},\phi,p_{\phi})$, how do you derive Lagrange's equation for $r$? Do you just solve the following for $r$? $$\frac{d}{dt}\frac{∂R}{∂\dot{\phi}}-\frac{∂R}{∂\phi}=0$$ And ...
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1answer
583 views

Principle of Least Action [duplicate]

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 ...
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2answers
257 views

Does a constant factor matter in the definition of the Noether current?

This is a very basic Lagrangian Field Theory question, it is about a definition convention. It takes much more time to typeset it than answering, but here it is: Consider a field Lagrangian with only ...
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1answer
512 views

Gauge-invariant field strength term in Yang-Mills Lagrangian

I am reading the chapter of non-abelian gauge invariance from Peskin and Schroeder. Why is the term $-\frac{1}{4}(L_{\mu\nu}^i)^{2} $ gauge invariant?
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187 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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2answers
395 views

Variational method applied to brownian motion

It's possible apply the variational method to the brownian motion ? I mean, one of requisites on $y(t)$ is that it must be continuous and $\partial_t{y(t)}$ too, and in this case, $\partial_t{y(t)}$ ...
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2answers
109 views

Noether's theorem: meaning of transformation of coordinates

I have a question regarding Noether's theorem. In our introductory QFT class (which is based on the book by Michele Maggiore) we have derived the Noether currents in the same form as displayed in this ...
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1answer
120 views

Redefinitions of Lagrangians using EOM

I am trying to understand an statement of this paper. In section 2 this Lagrangian is introduced ...
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168 views

Minimizing the Lagrangian action of an impossible problem

I'm working my way through Structure and Interpretation of Classical Mechanics (SICM), and am stuck on an exercise in Section 1.4: Exercise 1.6. Minimizing action: Suppose we try to obtain a ...
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3answers
162 views

Time dependence of the Lagrangian of a free particle?

I am working through Landau's book on Classical Mechanics. I understand the logic and physics of isotropy and homogeneity of space-time behind the derivation of the Lagrangian for a free particle, but ...
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1answer
114 views

Can action be unbounded from below?

While solving the problem in this question, I found cases where the numerical optimization failed, suspecting unboundedness of the function being minimized. The function approximates the action of the ...
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1answer
105 views

Special Relativity: Finding the Euler Lagrange of a massive particle

Knowing that $$\tag{1} L= -mc\sqrt{-\eta_{ab}\frac{d\xi^a}{d\lambda}\frac{d\xi^b}{d\lambda}}$$ we get $$\tag{2} p_a=\frac{\partial L}{\partial(d\xi^a/d\lambda)} = m\eta_{ab}u^b.$$ How come? If I ...
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1answer
388 views

How are Feynman rules derived (in general)?

There are some questions (not all answered) on how Feynman rules for specific cases are derived (e.g. Sign of Feynman rules with derivative couplings, Feynman rules for coupled systems, How can we ...
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1answer
158 views

Use of the term first order dependency

In a question I am doing it says: Show explicitly that the function $$y(t)=\frac{-gt^2}{2}+\epsilon t(t-1)$$ yields an action that has no first order dependency on $\epsilon$. Also my textbook ...
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1answer
441 views

Lagrangian formulation of the problem: small oscillations around an equilibrium

I'm having trouble understanding how some conclusions are made in my book. I'm studying from a coursebook based on Goldstein's "Classical Mechanics", here's what's written in my book, with my problems ...