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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If the stress energy tensor $T=0$, does that mean $\delta{T}=0$?

If the stress energy tensor $T=0$ in the vacuum, does that mean the variation of $T$ with respect to $g_{\mu\nu}$ equal zero? $$ \delta{T}=0 $$
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1answer
31 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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6answers
2k 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 ?
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1answer
244 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 ...
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1answer
41 views

second variation of the action for 1-d lagrangian

i know that the first variation of the action integral yields to the euler lagrange equation by setting $ \delta S [y(x)]=0 $ however given a Lagrangian in the form $$ \frac{1}{2}mv^ {2}-V(x)$$ how ...
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2answers
59 views

First fundamental form in the Gibbons-Hawking-York boundary term

Let me expose my problem, I am trying to perform the explicit variation of the Gibbons-Hawking-York boundary term, $$S_{GH}=\int_{\partial M} d^{n-1}x\sqrt{\left|h\right|}K$$ The problem I have is ...
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0answers
30 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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1answer
159 views

Functional derivatives as distributions

I have asked this on math stack exchange, due to its mostly mathemtical content, but aside from one upvote and minimal views it has not garnered any attention, so I am trying here as well. This isn't ...
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1answer
114 views

Carroll's derivation of the geodesic equations [duplicate]

In Carroll's derivation of the geodesic equations (page 69, http://preposterousuniverse.com/grnotes/grnotes-three.pdf), he starts with ...
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3answers
59 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
72 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 ...
9
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2answers
3k views

Explicit Variation of Gibbons-Hawking-York Boundary Term

Are there any references that present the explicit variation of the Hilbert-Einstein action plus the Hawking-Gibbons-York boundary term, and demonstrate the cancellation of the normal derivatives of ...
3
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2answers
116 views

Examples in which the light maximizes the optical path length

I posted a similar question about geodesics on Math.SE. Many sources (Wikibooks for instance) claim that the light could maximize the optical path length in some cases. But I don't think it's actually ...
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1answer
108 views

Determine path of point mass using the Hamilton's principle

I am very new in this field but I try to solve a problem by using the Hamilton's principle and afterwards I want to compare the solution by solving the same problem using conservation laws. What I ...
3
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1answer
255 views

Least Action Principle (Classical and Quantum Theory)

I) My first question would be "why should classical systems obey the principle of least action ?" When we find out the propagator in quantum physics, we find the amplitude to be equal to the sum over ...
4
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4answers
291 views

Geodesic Equation from variation: Is the squared lagrangian equivalent?

It is well known that geodesics on some manifold $M$, covered by some coordinates ${x_\mu}$, say with a Riemannian metric can be obtained by an action principle . Let $C$ be curve $\mathbb{R} \to M$, ...
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1answer
241 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} = ...
2
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2answers
103 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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1answer
51 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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2answers
24 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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1answer
51 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 ...
2
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1answer
109 views

Null geodesic equation

For a null geodesic curve $X^i$, $$0=g_{ij}V^iV^j.$$ When we derive the geodesic equation from E-L equations, will this affine parametrization cause it to blow up? How is it justified to use the ...
3
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2answers
137 views

Minimizing the Lagrangian action of an impossible problem

I'm working my way through Structure and Interpretation of Classical Mechanics (SICM), and am stuck on an exercise in Section 1.4: Exercise 1.6. Minimizing action: Suppose we try to obtain a ...
2
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1answer
86 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 $$ ...
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3answers
67 views

Hamilton's Principle - achieving Hamilton equations

Consider the action function: $$\mathcal{S}(t)=\int_{t_1}^{t_2}\mathcal{L}(q_i,\dot{q_i},t) dt$$ where $\mathcal{L}$ is the Lagrangian of the system. The Hamiltonian is defined by the following ...
2
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1answer
62 views

If time-like paths are geodesics, what physical principle applies to space-like intervals?

If I have a number of particles interacting with one another locally, then the center of mass of the system moves along a geodesic. Taking this further with the particles interacting via an EM field, ...
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0answers
35 views

Does the principle of stationary action always work? [duplicate]

Give some Lagrangian we use the principle of stationary action to find the desired euqations of motion for something (e.g. a field). A lot of modern physics seems to be based on the principle of ...
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2answers
84 views

Deriving the geodesic equation [closed]

I having been reading a general relativity book, but when in comes to the geodesic equation, it is not derived. How does one go about doing this?
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2answers
77 views

“Shortest” path in general relativity

My professor in mechanics course sneakily teach us some basic idea of general relativity. Which one of the basic assumption is particle walks in shortest world line. I understand shortest path in ...
2
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1answer
57 views

Proving independence of the lagrangian on position of a free particle using the euler-lagrange equation

I asked a similar question some time back but am trying to work this from another angle. In deriving the lagrangian of a free particle, we use the homogeneity of space to conclude that the lagrangian ...
1
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1answer
54 views

Equation of motion of an auxiliary field

I'm a newbie in the field of QFT and SUSY, so I'm warning you: this might be a stupid question. I'm working with auxiliary fields to describe supersymmetric models and I understand that upon ...
5
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2answers
396 views

How does light know which path is fastest?

We know from Fermat's principle of least time that light follows the fastest path. But how does light know which path is the fastest?
3
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1answer
121 views
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1answer
52 views

Deriving lagrangian of a free particle - How do you arrive at Lagrangian independency conclusions

I guess this question has been asked before, but I'm looking at a slightly different aspect. I'm reading Landau's book on classical mechanics. In deriving the lagrangian for a free particle, I ...
3
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0answers
52 views

Fastest path of light [duplicate]

Fermat's principle of least time says that light always takes the fastest path to any point. So how can light know which is the fastest path without taking all the paths first?
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0answers
57 views

Decoupling of generalized coordinates in lagrangian

Say you have a lagrangian $L$ for a system of 2 degrees of freedom. The action, S is: $S[y,z] = \int_{t_1}^{t_2} L(t,y,y',z,z')\,dt \tag{1}$ If $y$ and $z$ are associated with two parts of the ...
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1answer
62 views

Calculating Christoffel symbols from Lagrangian

I was given the following metric for a sphere $$g_{\mu\nu} = diag(1, r^2, r^2\sin^2\theta)$$ and tasked to calculate the Christoffel symbols. There are 2 ways that I know of to calculate them. One ...
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1answer
147 views

Why a timelike geodesic maximizes path length?

I'm studying some GR and my book says that in Pseudo-Riemannian manifolds geodesics may even maximize the path locally. That's what happen to the timelike geodesics, for example. My first question: Is ...
3
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1answer
65 views

What is incorrect about the original statement of Fermat's principle?

Here are some statements about Fermat's Principle taken from Eugene Hecht's Optics book. The original statement of Fermat's Principle : "The actual path between two points taken by a ray of light is ...
4
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1answer
142 views

Legendre transform for non-local Lagrangians, or Hamiltonian of non-local Lagrangian and their properties

This is sort of a multi-part question, mostly dealing with how to treat non-local Hamiltonians and how the corresponding properties of Hamiltonians work in a non-local framework. I proposed an example ...
1
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2answers
129 views

An inconsistency in Hamiltonian formulation for non-local Lagrangian: what am I doing wrong?

This question is based on a previous question I asked, Q. [1] In this question, I proposed an example of a non-local Lagrangian (functional), I'm revisiting it here: $$\mathbb{L}=\frac{1}{2}\int^t_0 ...
1
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1answer
68 views

Geometry of Hamilton-Jacobi Equation

I'm trying to understand the geometry of the Hamilton-Jacobi equation (working from Gelfand + Fomin), but I'm stuck. I know that: If we define the function $S(t,y;t_0, y_0)$ as: $$S(t,y;t_0,y_0) = ...
12
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2answers
203 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 ...
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0answers
39 views

Explaining why planets are round [duplicate]

is it possible to prove that planets (and/or stars) are always round (elliptical if you consider the spin)? Is there a set of equation that demonstrate that fluids (after all, molten rocks "floating" ...
6
votes
1answer
294 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 ...
0
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0answers
64 views

The principle of least action [duplicate]

I have read about the principle of least action. This principle suggests that nature would allow a particle to travel in a path along which the integral of the difference between kinetic energy and ...
0
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1answer
109 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 ...
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3answers
2k 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} + ...
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1answer
82 views

Hamilton-Jacobi theory and initial value problem?

Having read through some recent posts regarding the Lagrangian formulation being interpreted into an initial value problem rather than the familiar boundary condition problem we are familiar with, I ...
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0answers
47 views

Terminal conditions and boundary terms in Lagrangian formulations: what do different choices mean?

For the sake of having compact expressions: $$ \left\langle f,g\right\rangle=\int^T_0 f(t)g(t)\,\text{d}t $$ Given some functional: $$ F=\frac{1}{2}m\!\left\langle ...