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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3
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3answers
215 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
531 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.
4
votes
2answers
182 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
30 views

Source material desired for behavior of derivatives of action

I'm basically looking for concise commentary, and especially source material/ short discussion pertaining to the following, which I will (emphasizing loosely) state as follows: Suppose a given action ...
6
votes
1answer
271 views

How do you determine the Lagrangian? [duplicate]

I have always been puzzled by how do you arrive at Lagrangians? That is, how do you know that the functional you need to get Newton's equations is $$L = T-V(x)~?$$ Do you derive the Lagrangian ...
4
votes
2answers
221 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
224 views

Time-dependent Schrodinger equation from variational principle

In the paper, "Density-functional theory for time-dependent systems" Physical Review Letters 52 (12): 997 the authors mentioned that the action $$ A= \int_{t_0}^{t_1} dt \langle \Phi(t) | i ...
2
votes
1answer
348 views

Stuck following derivation of geodesic equation

In the book "Reflections on Relativity" by Kevin Brown, there is a chapter called "Relatively Straight", in which he derives the geodesic equations using the Euler equation. Online version Just ...
5
votes
2answers
167 views

When can we add a total time derivative of $f(q, \dot{q}, t)$ to a Lagrangian?

The other day, I was listening to this lecture on the Lagrangian for a charged particle in an electromagnetic field, and at one point in the video, the lecturer mentions that we can add any total time ...
13
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1answer
505 views

Physical Interpretation of EM Field Lagrangian

Using differential forms and their picture interpretations, I wonder if it's possible to give a nice geometric & physical motivation for the form of the Electromagnetic Lagrangian density? The ...
6
votes
1answer
711 views

Easy proof of Noether's theorem? [duplicate]

Where could I find an easy proof of Noether's theorem? I mean I know that the variation must be $ 0=\delta S = (EULER-LAGRANGE)+ (CONSERVED\, \, \, CURRENT) $ for the case of a particle $q(t)$. I ...
3
votes
0answers
889 views

Derivation of Euler-Lagrange equations for Lagrangian with dependence on second order derivatives

Suppose we have a Lagrangian that depends on second-order derivatives: $$L = L(q, \dot{q}, \ddot{q})$$ If we're working on the variational problem for this Lagrangian, then I know that we'll wind up ...
0
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0answers
61 views

How are the Lagrange equation and Feynmann path integral related? [duplicate]

My question is, where could I get some more info on how the Euler-Lagrange equations are related $$ \delta S [y(x)] =0 $$ with the Feynmann path integral formulation $ \int D[y(X)]e^{iS[y(x)]/\hbar} ...
4
votes
3answers
516 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
135 views

Why does Principle for least action hold for classical fields [duplicate]

Let $\mathscr L (\phi(\mathbf x), \partial \phi(\mathbf x))$ denote the Lagrangian density of field $\phi(\mathbf x)$. Then then actual value of the field $\phi(\mathbf x)$ can be computed from the ...
2
votes
1answer
49 views

Evolution of minimization of surface tension

What are governing equations (or/and variational principles) for evolution of a simply connected body of water in vacuum? Initial state - for time $t=0$ we have a bounded simply connected set ...
12
votes
2answers
197 views

Is it possible to prove that planets should be approximately spherical using the calculus of variations?

Is it possible to use the Lagrangian formalism involving physical terms to answer the question of why all planets are approximately spherical? Lets assume that a planet is 'born' when lots of ...
0
votes
2answers
159 views

Derivation of Lagrangian?

I know that the Lagrangian $L$ is defined to be $T-V$, i.e. the difference between kinetic energy and potential energy. Also the Action $S$ is defined to be $\int Ldx$ and from this we can derive ...
3
votes
1answer
100 views

Field equations in extended EH-GHY action. Is Schwarzschild a solution?

When taking the EH action, $$S_{EH} = \frac{1}{16\pi G}\int_M d^4x \sqrt{-g}R$$ and making a small variation in the metric while ignoring boundary terms, we obtain $$\delta S_{EH} = \frac{1}{16\pi ...
15
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4answers
766 views

The Lagrangian as a metric

My question is, can the (classical) Lagrangian be thought of as a metric? That is, is there a meaningful sense in which we can think of the least-action path from the initial to the final ...
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0answers
99 views

Variational principle

In the LMTO method, the interstitial region is approximated by plane waves and the muffin tin region of the potential by solutions to the radial Schrodinger equation. In using the variational method ...
5
votes
1answer
190 views

Variational calculus problem

I've been wondering lately about a problem that comes from, among other places, an old video game "Lunar Lander". In the game there is a spaceship that has a small tank of fuel, and you're supposed to ...
6
votes
1answer
139 views

Intuition for actions written as integrals over spacetime

Right now I'm simply looking for an intuitive explaination of actions that integrate over a 4-volume element, $d^4x$ rather than a parameter say $\lambda$. More specifically I'm well versed in action ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Fermat's principle to prove the law of reflection

Fermat's principle tells that a light ray will follow a path from point $A$ to point $B$ so that the optical path length of this path is an extremum over neighboring paths. I wanted to use this ...
3
votes
1answer
82 views

weak solution of Schroedinger equation .. are they useful?

We know that Schroedinger equation can be deduced from a variational principle (non relativistic Schroedinger equation). Assuming this I have 2 questions: a) Using variational methods, could we ...
5
votes
1answer
164 views

How Hamilton's Principle was found?

Hamilton's principle states that the actual path a particle follows from points $p_1$ and $p_2$ in the configuration space between times $t_1$ and $t_2$ is such that the integral $$S = ...
3
votes
1answer
160 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
209 views

equation of motion for the scalar field via variational principle in general relativity

I would like to find the equation of motion for the scalar field $\phi$ by varying the following action in General Relativity. Special Relativity: $$ S = -\tfrac{1}{2}\int d^4\xi\, \eta^{ab} ...
4
votes
2answers
638 views

Geodesics equations via variational principle

I would like to recover the (timelike) geodesics equations via the variational principle of the following action: $$ \mathcal{S}[x] = -m \int d\tau = -m \int \sqrt{-g_{\mu\nu}\,dx^{\mu}\,dx^{\nu}} $$ ...
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vote
0answers
145 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
425 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
577 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
69 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
160 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
124 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
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0answers
121 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 ...
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vote
2answers
105 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
68 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
345 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
99 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
256 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
352 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
3answers
824 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
199 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
237 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
153 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
514 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
568 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
555 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
131 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 ...