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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1answer
240 views

Variational form of Euler's incompressible fluid equations?

I am trying to derive Euler's incompressible fluid equations in terms of a variational stationary principle. Given Euler's flow equations: $$\frac{\partial v}{\partial t} = -\nabla p$$ $$\nabla\cdot ...
1
vote
1answer
147 views

Variational principle for a point particle (massive or massless) in curved space

We know that for a point particle, the action is $$ S[x,e] ~=~ \frac{1}{2}\int_{\lambda_A}^{\lambda_B} d\lambda\left[e^{-1}(\lambda)~g_{\mu\nu}(x(\lambda))~\dot{x}^\mu(\lambda)~\dot{x}^\nu(\lambda) ...
4
votes
1answer
189 views

Boundary term in Einstein-Hilbert action

Why is the boundary term in the Einstein-Hilbert action, the Gibbons-Hawking-York term, generally "missing" in General Relativity courses, IMPORTANT from the variational viewpoint, geometrical setting ...
2
votes
1answer
96 views

First variation of the action in relativistic notation - Landau & Lifshitz “Classical theory of fields”

In Landau & Lifshitz's book, Classical theory of fields, the action for a free particle is defined as: $$\tag{8.1} S= \int ^b _a {-mc \ \text d s}=0,$$ where $$\text d s=c\,\text d ...
3
votes
1answer
125 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
115 views

The principle of stationary action?

In proving that the action $$S\equiv \int^{t_2}_{t_1}L(x, x',t)dt$$ has a has a stationary point $x_0$ that satisfies the following: $$\frac{d}{dt}(\frac{\partial L}{\partial x'_0})=\frac{\partial ...
4
votes
1answer
151 views

Is the zero acceleration path also the shortest path between two points?

In flat, free, Euclidean space, the shortest path and the zero acceleration path are the same path, which is a straight line. However, in general relativity, is the zero acceleration path also the ...
2
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1answer
232 views

How to calculate the refracted light path when refraction index continuously increasing?

Suppose an incident light from vacuum ($n_1=1.0$) into some media ($n_2=n_1+\mu\; x^2$) as in the figure below. How to calculate the refracted light path curve in closed form? Update: Try to set ...
2
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3answers
199 views

Virtual Work: How is the applied force related to the coordinates chosen?

I have a question after reading a section from Goldstein's Classical Mechanics. The question deals with equation 1.43 in the text (given below): $$ \tag{1.43} \sum\limits_{i} {\bf F}_i^{(a)}\cdot ...
2
votes
1answer
470 views

Proof that total derivative is the only function that can be added to Lagrangian without changing the eom

So I was reading this: Invariance of Lagrange on addition of total time derivative of a function of coordiantes and time and while the answers for the first question are good, nobody gave much ...
5
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1answer
439 views

Why are D'Alembert's Principle and the Principle of Least Action Related?

Why do we get the same differential equations from both principles? Surely there is a fundamental connection between them? When written out, the two seem to have nothing in common. $$\sum _i ( ...
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0answers
78 views

General relativity from helicity 2 massless field theory by using Deser's arguments

Recently I have discovered the method of constructing of GR from massless field with helicity 2 theory. It is considered here, in an article "Self-Interaction and Gauge Invariance" written by Deser S. ...
3
votes
0answers
123 views

Variations of S-matrix functional and Feynman diagrams in Weinberg QFT

Weinberg on p. 287 of his QFT vol. 1 introduces the extended interaction operator: $$ \tag 1 \hat{V}(t) \to \hat{V}(t) + \sum_{a}\int d^{3}\mathbf x \hat{o}_{a}(\mathbf x ,t)\varepsilon_{a}(x). $$ ...
5
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0answers
96 views

BTZ Black Hole Central Charge and Conformal Weight

I have been trying to reproduce a calculation (equation 4.12) in this paper http://arxiv.org/pdf/1107.2678v1.pdf by Carlip reviewing the derivation of the effective central charge of the BTZ Black ...
3
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0answers
88 views

Is the “Force” of Gravity Simply Hamilton's Principle on a Curved Spacetime?

It's my understanding that General Relativity abstracts away the concept of gravity as a force, and instead describes it as a feature of spacetime by which massive objects cause curvature. Then it ...
4
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1answer
102 views

Reference Request: Fluid dynamics/Elasticity via Lagrangians

Would there be a book that does what Landau does in Fluid Mechanics and Theory of Elasticity using Lagrangian's/Action-principles, analogous to the presentation in Landau's mechanics? I have only ...
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2answers
379 views

Action and Action integral: Different kinds of variational principles

What are the difference between: the action $\int_{t_{1}}^{t_{2}}(L+H) dt$ that we use in the principle of least action, and the action integral $\int_{t_{1}}^{t_{2}}L dt$ that we use in ...
2
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4answers
581 views

Can you explain Fermat's Principle to me?

The textbook(F.A.Jenkins and H.E.White Fundamentals of Optics) states that the Fermat's principle is that the path taken by a light ray in going from one point to another through any set of media ...
5
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1answer
142 views

Proca Lagrangian manipulation

How can I show that the Lagrangian density $$\mathcal{L} = -\frac{1}{2}\partial_\alpha \varphi_\beta \partial^\alpha \varphi^\beta + \frac{1}{2} \partial_\alpha \varphi^\alpha \partial_\beta ...
5
votes
2answers
428 views

Functional Derivative in the Linear Sigma Model

In the linear sigma model, the Lagrangian is given by $$ \mathcal{L} = \frac{1}{2}\sum_{i=1}^{N} \left(\partial_\mu\phi^i\right)\left(\partial^\mu\phi^i\right) ...
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3answers
654 views

Confusion regarding the principle of least action in Landau's “The Classical Theory of Fields”

Edit: The previous title didn't really ask the same thing as the question (sorry about that), so I've changed it. To clarify, I understand that the action isn't always a minimum. My questions are in ...
10
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5answers
546 views

What is the best path for a given initial and final state?

I am trying to calculate an efficient acceleration curve given starting and final positions and velocities. I'm assuming no friction, and that the acceleration can be applied in any direction at any ...
3
votes
1answer
163 views

Deriving field equation in Yang Mills theory

Trying to show that $$D_\mu\vec{F^{\mu \nu}} = \partial_{\mu}\vec{F^{\mu \nu}} + g \vec{A_\mu} \times \vec{F^{\mu \nu}} = 4 \pi \vec{J^\nu},$$ or (correct me if I'm wrong) $$ \partial_{\mu} F^{\mu ...
2
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1answer
48 views

Sign of gravitational force

I'm reading Lanczos's The variational principles of mechanics, and on pp. 80-81 there is an example involving a system made up of $n$ rigid bars, freely jointed at their end points, and the two free ...
2
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1answer
186 views

A Question on Hamilton's Principle

In some literatures, the Hamilton's principle for conservative systems is introduced by this equation: $$\delta \int_{t_1}^{t_2}(T-V) ~\mathrm{d}t~=~0$$ In some others, this principle is introduces ...
3
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3answers
263 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
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1answer
586 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
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2answers
215 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 ...
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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
301 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 ...
6
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2answers
293 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
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1answer
272 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
371 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
199 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
549 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
774 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
1k 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 ...
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0answers
63 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
610 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
139 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
51 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
213 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
170 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
110 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
votes
4answers
856 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
104 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
206 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
148 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
86 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 ...