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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4
votes
2answers
211 views

Geodesics equations via variational principle

I would like to recover the (timelike) geodesics equations via the variational principle of the following action: $$ \mathcal{S}[x] = -m \int d\tau = -m \int \sqrt{-g_{\mu\nu}\,dx^{\mu}\,dx^{\nu}} $$ ...
1
vote
0answers
69 views

Helmholtz free energy minimization using Lagrange [closed]

can you please help me with that one: Minimize free energy for a liquid crystal: $F = \int (K_{11} (div(n))^2 + K_{22} (n*rot(n) + q)^2 + K_{33} (n*rot(n))^2 ) dV$ in the case $n = cos(\alpha)*e_z ...
10
votes
2answers
372 views

Lagrangian Mechanics - Commutativity Rule $\frac{d}{dt}\delta q=\delta \frac{dq}{dt} $

I am reading about Lagrangian mechanics. At some point the difference between the temporal derivative of a variation and variation of the temporal derivative is discussed. The fact that the two are ...
2
votes
1answer
230 views

Variation of modified Einstein Hilbert Action

In general relativity one can derive the Einstein Field Equations by the principle of least action through variations with respect to the inverse of the metric tensor. In some modified theories of ...
3
votes
1answer
65 views

Classical Mechanics & Coordinates [closed]

What is the meaning generalised coordinates in Classical Mechanics? How is Lagrangian formalism different from Hamiltonian formalism? How are they related to Hamilton's Principle? How are they ...
0
votes
1answer
135 views

Can't understand the principle of least action [closed]

I tried many hours to understand the principle of least action, and those hours become days... and I still didn't understand that principle/ and how it relates to Newtonian mechanics? Could someone ...
1
vote
0answers
88 views

How to get “massless” equation of motion from the action of Nordstrom scalar field theory?

There is Nordstrom theory of the particle moving in a scalar field $\varphi (x)$: $$ S = -m\int e^{\varphi (x)}\sqrt{\eta_{\alpha \beta}\frac{dx^{\alpha}}{d \lambda}\frac{dx^{\beta}}{d ...
1
vote
0answers
80 views

Derivation of equations of motion in Nordstrom's theory of scalar gravity?

Nordstrom's theory of a particle moving in the presence of a scalar field $\varphi (x)$ is given by $$ S = -m\int e^{\varphi (x)}\sqrt{\eta_{\alpha \beta}\frac{dx^{\alpha}}{d ...
1
vote
2answers
89 views

With respect to what quantities do I vary Lagrangians in field theory?

I have recently been wondering, with respect to which quantities (covariant or contravariant) one should vary QFT Lagrangians and whether there is some rule regarding this. Let me give an example ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

Question about “different” equations of motion in dependence of indices

Let's have the action $$ S = \int (\partial_{\mu}h^{\mu \sigma}\partial^{\nu}h_{\nu \sigma} - \Lambda h^{\mu \nu}T_{\mu \nu}) d^{4}x. $$ For definiteness, $$ h_{\mu \nu} = h_{\nu \mu} , \quad T_{\mu ...
7
votes
1answer
262 views

Virial theorem and variational method: a question

I have an hydrogenic atom, knowing that its ground-state wavefunction has the standard form $$ \psi = A e^{-\beta r} $$ with $A = \frac{\beta^3}{\pi}$, I have to find the best value for $\beta$ ...
0
votes
1answer
71 views

Why we can set variations for the metric and its derivatives to zero at infinity?

This question is the continuation of the following one. I still don't understand why $(1)$ may be set to zero. This refers to the zero value variations of metric and its derivatives on the infinitely ...
1
vote
1answer
210 views

Einstein action and the second derivatives

I have naive question about Einstein action for field-free case: $$ S = -\frac{1}{16 \pi G}\int \sqrt{-g} d^{4}x g^{\mu \nu}R_{\mu \nu}. $$ It contains the second derivatives of metric. When we want ...
3
votes
1answer
247 views

Point of Lagrange multipliers

I am trying to understand how for a constrained system the introduction of Lagrange multipliers facilitates the incorporation of the holonomic constraints. I am using Classical Mechanics by John ...
3
votes
2answers
434 views

How to obtain the field equations in Brans-Dicke theory from the action?

The action for the Brans-Dicke-Jordan theory of gravity is $$ \\S =\int d^4x\sqrt{-g} \; \left(\frac{\phi R - \omega\frac{\partial_a\phi\partial^a\phi}{\phi}}{16\pi} + \mathcal{L}_\mathrm{M}\right). ...
3
votes
1answer
149 views

Why can we assume independent variables when using Lagrange multipliers in nonholonomic systems?

I'm studying from Goldstein's Classical Mechanics. In section 2.4, he discusses nonholonomic systems. We assume that the constraints can be put in the form $f_\alpha(q, \dot{q}, t) =0$, $\alpha = 1 ...
2
votes
1answer
163 views

Finding the approximate solution for Schrodinger equation by using variational method [closed]

I need to find the approximate solution of nonlinear Schrodinger equation $$ i\hbar \partial_{t} \Psi + \frac{\hbar^{2}}{2m}\Delta \Psi - g |\Psi|^{2}\Psi - \frac{m\omega^2 (x^2 + y^2 + z^2)}{2}\Psi = ...
3
votes
1answer
118 views

Hamilton-Jacobi formalism and on-shell actions

My question is essentially how to extract the canonical momentum out of an on-shell action. The Hamilton-Jacobi formalism tells us that Hamilton's principal function is the on-shell action, which ...
1
vote
2answers
266 views

Einstein equation and scalar field stress-energy tensor

Let's have interaction between gravitational and scalar real fields. For an action of gravitational field in vacuum I add term $S_{m} = \int d^{4}x\sqrt{-g}L_{m}$, where $$ L_{m} = \frac{1}{2}g^{\mu ...
11
votes
3answers
438 views

Is Einstein-Hilbert action the unique action whose variation gives Einstein's field equations?

I know that scaling the action with a non-zero multiplicative constant, or adding a total divergence term to the Lagrangian density do not change the Euler-Lagrange equations, cf. e.g. this ...
2
votes
3answers
326 views

Does a four-divergence extra term in a Lagrangian density matter to the field equations?

Greiner in his book "Field Quantization" page 173, eq.(7.11) did this calculation: ${\mathcal L}^\prime=-\frac{1}{2}\partial_\mu A_\nu\partial^\mu A^\nu+\frac{1}{2}\partial_\mu A_\nu\partial^\nu ...
4
votes
1answer
74 views

Why does the minimum energy field configuration require the fields to be constant?

I am having a hard time in understanding a well known statement always made in the context of field theory. Background Consider a classical real scalar field theory with Lagrangian density given by ...
2
votes
2answers
198 views

Exercise about Lagrange-Euler equations

I'm solving an exercise about the Lagrange-Euler equations, that states the following: Let $\gamma (t) = \{ (t,q) : q = q(t), t_0 \leq t \leq t_1\}$ be a curve in $\mathbb{R} \times \mathbb{R}^2$. ...
1
vote
2answers
161 views

Refraction of light in medium

Given that the plane $y=0$ separates the vacuum ($y>0$) from the optical medium ($y<0$), I would like to calculate the trajectory of a light ray starting at the point $(x_1,y_1)$ and ending in ...
8
votes
4answers
543 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
130 views

Non-uniqueness of solutions in Newtonian mechanics

In The Variational Principles of Mechanics by Lanczos, in section 1 of Chapter 1, Lanczos states that for a complicated situation, the Newtonian approach fails to give a unique answer to the problem, ...
4
votes
1answer
148 views

Variational principles: Meniscus

In determining the shape of a meniscus, we have to minimize the energy per unit length along the direction perpendicular to the cross-section of the meniscus: $$\frac{E}{L}=\int^L_0 dx [\gamma ...
6
votes
2answers
460 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') ...
6
votes
2answers
410 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
103 views

Dimension analysis in Derrick theorem

The following image is taken from p. 85 in the textbook Topological Solitons by N. Manton and P.M. Sutcliffe: What I don't understand from the above statement: why $e(\mu)$ has minimum ...
1
vote
0answers
71 views

Deriving the curve of a cantilever

Essentially, there is a beam of length L and negligible mass sticking out of a wall with a mass Mg hanging at the end of it. We are given an equation for elastic energy (which I don't think needs to ...
2
votes
1answer
187 views

Motivating the Legendre Transform Mathematically

If I begin with a functional of the form $$J[y] = \int_a^b f(x,y,y')dx$$ and find its Euler-Lagrange equations $$\frac{\partial f}{\partial y} - \frac{d}{dx}\frac{\partial f}{\partial y'} = 0 = ...
1
vote
1answer
145 views

Does gravitational lensing violate Fermat's Principle that light must travel in straight lines?

Does bending of light due to warping of space violate Fermat's Principle or is it that in the principle light goes in a straight line with respect to space (taking space as the reference) and in ...
3
votes
1answer
293 views

Euler's equations of rigid body motion from least action principle

I would like to derive Euler's equations of rigid body motion from least action principle. Suppose we are in free space so we have no gravity so Lagrangian is equal to kinetic energy. $$ L = T = ...
5
votes
1answer
352 views

What is Maupertuis' principle good for?

The strength of Hamilton's principle is obvious to me and I see the advantage. Now, for conservative systems we also have Maupertuis' principle that says: $$ \delta \int p dq =0$$ and I am not sure ...
4
votes
1answer
189 views

Equations of motion of displacement field

We have an action: $$S[\boldsymbol{u}] = \frac{1}{2} \int dt \int d^3x \left\{ \mu (\frac{\partial u_{i}}{\partial t})^{2} - \nu (u_{ii})^{2} - \rho(u_{ij})^{2}\right\} $$ Where $u_{ij} = ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

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} + ...
4
votes
0answers
85 views

On Cohomological Gauge theory Calculation

I am in trouble with calculation details of Witten's Two dimensional Gauge Theories Revisited. My questions is about (3.21) and (3.27). From section 3, we have $$\delta A_i=i\epsilon \psi_i\\ \delta ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Variational Derivation of Schrodinger Equation

In reading Weinstock's Calculus of Variations, on pages 261 - 262 he explains how Schrodinger apparently first derived the Schrodinger equation from variational principles. Unfortunately I don't ...
1
vote
1answer
157 views

Is the Schwinger action principle important in renormalization?

Is the Schwinger action principle important in renormalization? I want to know if this principle could help us to see if a model is renormalizable of not. If you have any other comment or information ...
0
votes
2answers
205 views

What's an “Action” and what does the Lagrangian equation mean exactly?

How and why would a particle take the shortest path? $L=KE-PE$? What's the $KE-PE$ mean in English? I understand the 'mechanics' but not the idea itself. Please explain simply, I do know Calculus ...
1
vote
1answer
67 views

Maximum aging and path of rock

When a rock falls from a ledge, why does it head to the surface and not up to where time runs faster? If a rock, free from forces, follows a worldline of maximum aging, why would that rock approach ...
3
votes
1answer
306 views

Principle of Least Action

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 ...
10
votes
1answer
359 views

What makes a Lagrangian a Lagrangian?

I just wanted to know what the characteristic property of a Lagrangian is? How do you see without referring to Newtonian Mechanics that it has to be $L=T-V$? People constructed a Lagrangian in ...
6
votes
3answers
409 views

Principle of Least Action via Finite-Difference Method

I am reading Gelfand's Calculus of Variations & mathematically everything makes sense to me, it makes perfect sense to me to set up the mathematics of extremization of functionals & show that ...
4
votes
2answers
193 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
98 views

From Euler-Lagrange equation to non affine geodesic equation

I have some problems to demonstrate the non affine geodesic equation from Euler-Lagrange's equations. I start defining the Lagrangian $L=\sqrt f$, but then I'm not able to find the Christoffel ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Derivation of Dirac equation using the Lagrangian density for Dirac field

How can I derive the Dirac equation from the Lagrangian density for the Dirac field?
2
votes
1answer
418 views

Retrieving Maxwell's equations from the minimum action principle

I'm currently working at the start of Alexei Tsvelik's book Quantum Field Theory in Condensed Matter Physics. I'm kinda stumped on a few essential steps. Starting with the action: $$S = \int dt \int ...
2
votes
1answer
354 views

Why vary the action with respect to the inverse metric?

Whenever I have read texts which employ actions that contain metric tensors, such as the Nambu-Goto, Polyakov or Einstein-Hilbert action, the equations of motion are derived by varying with respect to ...