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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195 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 = ...
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1answer
150 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
356 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
407 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
202 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} = ...
7
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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
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0answers
86 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
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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 ...
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1answer
162 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 ...
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2answers
234 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 ...
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1answer
76 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
337 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
396 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
435 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
207 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
112 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 ...
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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
482 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
429 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 ...
2
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1answer
155 views

Total energy is extremal for the static solutions of equation of motions

In physics total energy is extremal for the static solutions of equation of motions. Can anyone explain this sentence to me?
0
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1answer
298 views

proper variation of action term

I have a term I want to vary by a field, $\phi$. $$ `S' = \frac{-1}{2}\,\sqrt{-g}\,g^{\mu\,\nu}\,\delta\left[h(\phi)\,\partial_{\mu}\phi\,\partial_{\nu}\phi \right]. $$ Is it correct to get this? ...
6
votes
1answer
356 views

English translation of Helmholtz' paper: “On the Physical Significance of the Principle of Least Action”

I am asking about an English translation of a Helmholtz paper: Ueber die physikalische Bedeutung des Princips der kleinsten Wirkung. Journal für die reine und angewandte Mathematik (Crelle's ...
5
votes
1answer
174 views

What is the action for an electromagnetic field if including magnetic charge

Recently, I try to write an action of an electromagnetic field with magnetic charge and quantize it. But it seems not as easy as it seems to be. Does anyone know anything or think of anything like ...
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1answer
79 views

White Dwarf radius

So I've been reading this about white dwarves, and various other sites about white dwarves. In all of them, they say that we can find the radius of a white dwarf by minimizing its total energy. I know ...
2
votes
1answer
253 views

How light know which path is smallest?

We know from fermat's principle that light follows the smallest path. But how light know that which path is smallest?
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2answers
540 views

How the boundary term in the variation of the action vanishes

In David Tong's QFT lecture notes (Quantum Field Theory: University of Cambridge Part III Mathematical Tripos, Lecture notes 2007, p.8), he states that We can determine the equations of motion by ...
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3answers
1k views

Noether's current expression in Peskin and Schroeder

In the second chapter of Peskin and Schroeder, An Introduction to Quantum Field Theory, it is said that the action is invariant if the Lagrangian density changes by a four-divergence. But if we ...
4
votes
3answers
236 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 ...
0
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0answers
39 views

Suggestions for a physics oriented book on Variational Calculus [duplicate]

I would like to buy a good book on Variational Calculus. Most of the books that I find seem to be rather formal in a mathematical sense, which is not necessarily bad, but makes the studying a bit ...
2
votes
3answers
153 views

Formalities of the variational integral

Usually when the variational principle is introduced one starts by defining a Lagrangian density $${\mathscr L}(x,\phi(x),\partial_{\mu}\phi(x))$$ and an action $$S[\phi]=\int_R d(x) {\mathscr L}$$ ...
6
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4answers
576 views

Least-action classical electrodynamics without potentials

Is it possible to formulate classical electrodynamics (in the sense of deriving Maxwell's equations) from a least-action principle, without the use of potentials? That is, is there a lagrangian which ...
3
votes
2answers
157 views

How is the physical Lagrangian related to the constrained minimization Lagrangian?

If we're minimizing an energy $V(q)$ subject to constraints $C(q) = 0$, the Lagrangian is $$L = V(q) + \lambda C(q).$$ I have fairly solid intuition for this Lagrangian, namely that the energy ...
2
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0answers
369 views

Prove that the first order perturbation theory overestimates fundamental state [closed]

This was a question on my exam and I don't know how to solve it. Use the variational principle to prove that the first order perturbation theory always overestimates the energy of the fundamental ...
2
votes
1answer
433 views

Electrodynamics and the Lagrangian density

Could anyone tell me what equations can I obtain from the Lagrangian density $${\cal L}(\phi,\,\,\phi_{,i},\,\,A_i, \dot A_i,\,\,A_{i,j})~=~\frac{1}{2}|\dot A+\nabla\phi|^2-\frac{1}{2}|\nabla \times ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Entropy and the principle of least action

Is there any link between the law of maximum entropy and the principle of least action. Is it possible to derive one from the other ?
5
votes
1answer
431 views

Finding interplanetary flight trajectory using calculus of variations?

Consider two orbits $x(t),\space y(t)$ representing the origin and destination for some spaceflight of interest. These could be, for example, cycloids describing LEO and another orbit circling, say, ...
1
vote
0answers
172 views

Are there any good reading materials for variational approach in many-body theory? [closed]

I need something like a summary of existing results, including the treatment of BCS Hamiltonian and Hubbard model. Auerbach's book is a good one but I still hope to get more comprehensive review. My ...
1
vote
1answer
302 views

What's the motivation behind the action principle? [closed]

What's the motivation behind the action principle? Why does the action principle lead to Newtonian law? If Newton's law of motion is more fundamental so why doesn't one derive Lagrangians and ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the meaning of the word “Principle” in Physics?

What is the meaning of the word principle in Physics? For example in the "action principle". Is it an action law, an action equation, or an unproved assumption? (I have an idea what an action is). ...
2
votes
1answer
286 views

Find the action from given equations of motion

Is there a systematic procedure to generally obtain an appropriate action that corresponds to any given equations of motion (if I know that it exists)?
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vote
1answer
395 views

Questions regarding solving the Brachistochrone problem using Lagrangian

brachistochrone problem: Suppose that there is a rollercoaster. There is point 1 ($0,0$) and point 2 ($x_2, y_2)$. Point 1 is at the higher place when compared to the point 2, so the rollercoaster ...
2
votes
3answers
408 views

Can the Euler-Lagrange equations be derived from an infinitesimal Principle of Least Action?

The Euler-Lagrange equations can be derived from the Principle of Least Action using integration by parts and the fact that the variation is zero at the end points. This has a mystical air about it, ...
1
vote
2answers
301 views

Can cos(x) or sin(x) be the function of stationary action?

Is there a way to express $\cos(x(t))$ (or $\sin(x(t))$) as the solution to the Euler-Lagrange equation, in other words is there a sense in which this function is the path of stationary action?
3
votes
2answers
291 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
909 views

Is the principle of least action a boundary value or initial condition problem?

Here is a question that's been bothering me since I was a sophomore in university, and should have probably asked before graduating: In analytic (Lagrangian) mechanics, the derivation of the ...
5
votes
2answers
280 views

What shape of track minimizes the time a ball takes between start and stop points of equal height?

I was at my son's high school "open house" and the physics teacher did a demo with two curtain rail tracks and two ball bearings. One track was straight and on a slight slope. The beginning and end ...
3
votes
1answer
546 views

Gauss law in classical U(1) gauge theory

I can see that $a_{0}$ is not an independent field and Gauss law is a constraint on the theory arising from field equations. But, I don't get the geometrical picture. Let $A$ be the space of all ...
5
votes
3answers
822 views

Is it safe to ignore derivatives of velocity w.r.t. position and vice versa?

In a certain textbook a function is given as: $$f=f(x(t))$$ And then this is differentiated w.r.t. $t$ to get: $$f_t=\dot{x}f_x$$ (Where the notation $f_u=df/du$, $f_{uu}=d^2f/du^2$, etc.) This ...
2
votes
2answers
576 views

What is the significance of action?

What is the physical interpretation of $$ \int_{t_1}^{t_2} (T -V) dt $$ where, $T$ is Kinetic Energy and $V$ is potential energy. How does it give trajectory?
12
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1answer
314 views

Is there some connection between the Virial theorem and a least action principle?

Both involve some 'averaging' over energies (kinetic and potential) and make some prediction about their mean values. As far as the least action principles, one could think of them as saying that the ...