any of several principles that find the physical trajectory of a system by minimizing or maximizing some value computed over the proposed path (for instance geometric optics can be reproduced by insisting on a minimum time principle).

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Classical mechanics principle of least action

I don't understand here what does the book mean by expanding in terms of $\delta{q}$ and $\delta{\dot{q}}$ can someone explain that part.
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Derivative condition in the Brachistochrone problem

I know that in general, to find the minimum of some line integral with given end points I need to solve E-L equations. what disturbs me is that I have seen in my class the famous Brachistochrone ...
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52 views

How does GR determine the topology of spacetime? [duplicate]

The crux of GR is the action $$ S=\int _\mathcal M d^n x \sqrt{|g|}\,R $$ Varying this and setting $\delta S=0$ gives you the Einstein field equations. However, that only determines the metric, not ...
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47 views

Equation of string as hamiltonian field equations

I am using Hamiltonian field theory for the first time and I struggle with some final steps. The task is to derive the equation of vibrating string using Hamilton's field equations. Here is what I ...
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79 views

Energy in dynamical variational principle

In quantum mechanics we use variational principle in order to find approximate expression for the ground state. Lets assume our probe wavefunction $|\Psi\rangle$ can be expanded in orthonormal basis $...
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40 views

Gibbons-Hawking Variation

I know there already exist some questions about this and some very good answers. However, I am still having trouble understanding one part of the calculation. The GHY term is given by $S_{GHY}=-\frac{...
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5answers
239 views

Is boundary well defined if variation of metric don't vanish on the boundary?

Suppose that you want to calculate the variation $\delta S$ of an action induced by some arbitrary variation $\delta g_{\mu \nu}$ of the spacetime metric : \begin{equation} S = \int_{\Omega} \mathscr{...
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36 views

Origin of Hamilton's variational principle [duplicate]

My question is what is the theoretical origin of Hamilton's principle. I mean is there any rigorous mathematical proof of this principle from some more basic principles?
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4answers
232 views

What are the boundary conditions associated to this lagrangian?

Suppose that $L(q^i, \dot{q}^i)$ is a standard and well behaved lagrangian associated to some Dirichlet boundary conditions : $q^i(t_1) = q_1^i$ and $q^i(t_2) = q_2^i$. Now I have this new lagrangian ...
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132 views

Boundary conditions of fields from the stationary action principle

First principle of stationary action Consider a real Klein-Gordon scalar field $\phi$ living in a $D$ dimensional flat spacetime. The field is considered off shell (the on shell condition is defined ...
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52 views

Cyclicity of trace with fermionic arguments

I think this is a non-question, but it has me considerably worried. Consider the piece of a Lagrangian density given by, $$\mathcal{L} = \epsilon_{ij}\mbox{Tr}\left(\chi^{i,\alpha}\left[\chi^{j}_\...
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84 views

On the surface, is the law of maximum entropy production the same as principle of least action?

I just have read about the law of maximum entropy production. Someone has idolized it enough to make an whole website just for it: http://www.lawofmaximumentropyproduction.com/ A system will ...
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111 views

Why can't we fix the metric and its derivatives at boundary, with the variational method?

In general relativity and for its Einstein-Hilbert action, we usually ask that the metric variations $\delta g_{\mu \nu}$ cancel on the boundary $\partial \, \Omega$ of some region $\Omega$ of the ...
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237 views

Variation of the Einstein-Hilbert action in D dimensions without the Gibbons-Hawking-York term

Consider the standard Einstein-Hilbert action in $D \ne 2$ dimensions spacetimes : \begin{equation} S_{EH} = \frac{1}{2 \kappa} \int_{\Omega} R \; \sqrt{- g} \; d^D x, \end{equation} where $\Omega$ is ...
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71 views

Spinning a rope when hanging, what is the curve? [duplicate]

Holding a rope from one end and spinning it. As shown in the picture, what will be the curve of it?
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185 views

Acoustical wave equation from Hamilton's principle

It is common to show the features and power of the Hamilton's principle by deriving the equation of vibrating string, membrane etc. using this principle. But I have never seen that used for deriving ...
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43 views

Variation of a tensor quantity

How does one go about in finding a variation of a tensor quantity say, with respect to the variation in the metric tensor? I've gone through calculus of variations but I can't figure out how one ...
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96 views

Why does overall action need to have an extremum?

Quoting from Landau's and Lifshitz' Mechanics : The integral ${\int\limits_{t_1}^{t_2}}L(q, \dot{q},t)\,dt$ for the entire path must have an extremum, but not necessarily a minimum. This, ...
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58 views

Strong interaction under $SO(3)$ isospin transformation

I'm given the following strong interaction: $$S = \int d^{4}x [\frac{1}{2} \partial_{\mu} \phi^{a} \partial^{\mu} \phi^{a} - \frac{m^2}{2} \phi^{a} \phi^{a}] ,\qquad a = 1,2,3 \text{.}$$ It is stated ...
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85 views

Derivative of the action integral [closed]

I need to find the partial derivative of the action $S$ with respect to the generalized coordinate $q(t_f)$ and according to my textbook, it should equal the generalized momentum $p(t_f)$. I have a ...
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2answers
91 views

Action max, min, or saddle?

It is well known that $\delta S = 0$ lays the foundation for variational mechanics. But I am confused as to whether or not this S is a minimum, a maximum, or a saddle point. Some books address this ...
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95 views

How do you find potential by Lagrangian formalism?

Suppose a ball is falling towards earth and hence by Lagrange equation we can find $T$ and $V$ where $V$ is $mgh$. But we know $V$ only because we know $F = mg$. Now since Lagrange equation doesn't ...
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98 views

Help on understanding a concept in Noether's first theorem

Given a Lie group $G$, whose most general transform depends on $\rho$ parameters, under the action of which an integral $I$ is invariant, there are $\rho$ linearly independent combinations of the ...
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2answers
349 views

Goldstein's derivation of the 'principle of least action'

I want make an punctual question ands it's about The derivation of the expression $$ \Delta\int_{t_1}^{t_2} Ldt=L(t_2)\Delta t_2-L(t_1)\Delta t_1 + \int_{t_1}^{t_2} \delta L dt. \tag{8.74}$$ You can ...
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113 views

qualitative explanation of Principle of Least Action (vertical movement)

Consider the following situation I want to understand what the PLA means here from an intuitive and qualitative point of view. I understand the mathematical approach. Combining $L(y,\dot{y})=\...
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210 views

Why are the Euler-Lagrange equations invariant if we add a surface term to the action?

In the lecture on Noether's theorem and the Lagrange formulation of classical field theories, my professor wrote A symmetry is a field variation that maps solutions to solutions, which is true if ...
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64 views

Deriving velocity after elastic and inelastic collision via the Principle of Least Action

I am reading on the Principle of Least Action from a historical perspective. I am also trying to make sense of it from a contemporary point of view -- though my training in contemporary physics is ...
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When/why does the principle of least action plus boundary conditions not uniquely specify a path?

A few months ago I was telling high school students about Fermat's principle. You can use it to show that light reflects off a surface at equal angles. To set it up, you put in boundary conditions, ...
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89 views

In Fermat's Principle of Least Time, how do we know that light is able to reach the end point? [duplicate]

From my understanding of Fermat's Principle, you decide a start point and an end point for a light ray to travel between, and the light 'chooses' whichever path takes the least time (or technically ...
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2answers
234 views

What canonical momenta are the “right” ones?

I'm doing some classical field theory exercises with the Lagrangian $$\mathscr{L} = -\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu \nu}F^{\mu \nu}$$ where $F_{\mu \nu} = \partial_\mu A_\nu - \partial_\nu A_\mu$. To find the ...
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86 views

Independent Variables of a Lagrangian

Let us consider a particle in one spatial dimension $x$ and one temporal dimension $t$. Its Lagrangian $L$ is given by \begin{eqnarray*} L &=& T- V \\ &=& \frac{1}{2} m\dot{x}^2 - ...
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65 views

Is there any reason for principle of least action to be true? [duplicate]

My question is not rigidly related to physics. The principle of least actions says that for any dynamical system there exists a function parameterized by $q$'s and $\dot{q}$'s such that the line ...
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553 views

Why don't all free particles lose their kinetic energy?

I'm currently studying Action. I've been reading about how a particle has particular probabilities of ending at an infinite number of events. Say I have a free particle that isn't experiencing any ...
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65 views

On the connection between forces and the principle of stationary action

Feynman tries to account for the relation between the principle of stationary action, which is a statement about the whole path of a particle, and Newton's second law, which is a statement about the ...
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77 views

Variation of quadratic term in modified Einstein-Hilbert actions

In the context of mimetic gravity at some point one try to add to an already modified Einstein-Hilbert action also a term like $$ S_\chi=\int\,d^4x\,\sqrt{-g}\frac{1}{2}\gamma\chi^2,\qquad(\star) $$ ...
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123 views

Formulating the Lagrangian in terms of invariant quantities

Consider a closed system consisting of $N$ point particles, whose Lagrangian is given in the standard way, by the total kinetic energy minus the potential energy: $\mathcal{L}(\dot{q},q):= T(\dot{q}) -...
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332 views

Deriving Newton's first law from the principle of least action

Newton's first law states that if the net force on an object is zero, then this object moves with constant velocity. I'm interested in the derivation of this law from the principle of least action. ...
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1answer
45 views

Elementary question about distributive property of variation operator on an exterior product

I am trying to work out the equations of motion of a 11-dimensional supergravity action $$S = \frac{1}{2\kappa^2}\left(\gamma\int d^{11}x\sqrt{|g|}\mathcal{R} - \frac{\alpha}{2}\int G \wedge \star G -...
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42 views

A question on elementary Lagrangian mechanics(perhaps a bit of maths) [duplicate]

I am stuck with this question Consider the action, from $t=0$ to $t=1$, of a ball dropped from rest. From the Euler-Lagrange equation, we know that $y(t)={-gt^2 \over 2}$ yields a stationary value ...
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3answers
166 views

The Nambu-Goto action how do we know the Hamilton's principle applies?

I am reading 'A first course in string theory' by Barton Zwiebach (2ed) on page 112 he comes up (after a small derivation) the action formula: $$S=-\frac{T_0}{c} \int d\tau d \sigma \sqrt{-\gamma}.$$ ...
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438 views

Do we have a deeper understanding of Fermat's Principle?

Fermat's principle says that light travels between two points along the path that requires least time as compared to other nearby paths. But why this is so? Why can't light follow other paths? How ...
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1answer
50 views

Reversing time for a closed system of particles

For a closed system of particles, the lagrangian in classical mechanics is $$L=\sum \frac{1}{2}mv_a^2 - U(\mathbf{r_1},\mathbf{r_2}, \cdots)$$ For an arbitrary position function $x(t)$, to see the ...
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91 views

Variation of Gibbons-Hawking-York term. General boundary condition and total derivatives

It is actually a comment and question to the answer of Robert McNees in the following post: Explicit Variation of Gibbons-Hawking-York Boundary Term In deriving the variation of the extrinsic ...
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192 views

Two questions about Variational Method of quantum mechanics

I have two question about variational method of quantum mechanics. Why we always find the ground state energy by this approach. Why not the other excited states? When we find the ground state energy ...
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2answers
93 views

Classical trajectories that are not a minimum of the action [duplicate]

Are there physically realizable dynamical systems where the true trajectory is not a minumum action trajectory? Formally, Lagrangian mechanics only requires that the trajectory be an extremum (or ...
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2answers
228 views

Detailed conditions for symmetries of Lagrangian

Edit: To clarify the question, I am asking why we are justified in calling a continuous symmetry a symmetry of a system when it changes the Lagrangian by a total derivative of a function of $t, q(t)$ ...
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103 views

Equations of motion for Polyakov action

In Polchinski 2.1.10 we have the action in terms of complex coordinates $$S = \frac{1}{2\pi \alpha'} \int d^{2}z \partial X^{\mu}\bar{\partial}X_{\mu}\tag{2.1.10}$$ This should be a rather trivial ...
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40 views

Deriving the partition function in MaxEnt

I'm trying to understand this paper on Maximum Entropy by Jaynes, and am stuck on something which should be rather simple. We're attempting to maximize the entropy $-\sum_i p_i \ln(p_i)$ subject to ...
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78 views

Derivation of an ordinary, Lagrangian/Hamiltonian and action formulation

I am confused as to how the different formulations in physics are derived. In many fields of physics, we usually begin with an ordinary formulation (e.g Newton's Laws in classical mechanics), and ...
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1answer
106 views

Trivial conserved Noether's current with second derivatives

I'm considering a symmetry transformation on a Lagrangian $$ \delta A = \int L(q +\delta q, \dot{q} + \delta \dot{q} , \ddot{q} + \delta \ddot{q}) dt $$ the general variation takes the form $$ \...