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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23 views

Lagrangian of tautochrone curve and its solution

Why is that when I apply the Euler-Lagrange equation to a ball moving down a cycloid, that is $$L = \frac{1}{2}mr^2\dot{\theta}^2(1-\cos (\theta ))^2 + \frac{1}{2}mr^2\dot{\theta}^2\sin (\theta )^2 - ...
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35 views

What to do when the fields are arranged in a matrix?

I am dealing with a Lagrangian in which the fields are arranged in an $N\times N$ matrix and i have to find the minima of the potential. Usually i would write the Lagrangian in components and then ...
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1answer
294 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} = ...
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1answer
115 views

Why one should follow Snell's law for shortest time?

whenever two media and two velocities are involved, one must follow Snell's law if one wants to take the shortest time. Why snells law must be followed to travel diffrent media in shortest time? ...
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1answer
99 views

Polyakov From Nambu-Goto Directly, for Strings?

The following derivation, for a classical relativistic point particle, of the 'Polyakov' form of the action from the 'Nambu-Goto' form of the action, without any tricks - no equations of motion or ...
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1answer
204 views

How is Fermat's least time principle proven?

How is Fermat's least time principle proven? Or it is what usually is observed and is basis for the theories?
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2k views

Hydrostatic friction: why do water droplets stay at rest on an inclined glass surface?

This is a non-expert question on a (seemingly simple) text-book topic. The question is about "hydrostatic friction", defined as follows. Consider a drop of water resting on a flat surface. If the ...
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1answer
638 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 ...
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4answers
1k 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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4answers
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
68 views

How are Lagrangians in QFT constructed?

Various particle equations (like the K-G equation, the Dirac equation, the Proca equation etc.) in QFT are derived by applying the Euler-Lagrange equations to the Lagrangian density. But how are these ...
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2answers
57 views

Is there any general theorem which specifies conditions where the critical solution of an action is unique (for given boundary conditions)? [duplicate]

Consider a classical mechanical system with generalized coordinates $q_i$, $i \in \{1,\dots\,n\}$. And Lagrangian $L$. Given a path $\gamma$ (with coordinates $\gamma_i$) and two times $t_1$ and $t_2$ ...
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147 views

What's the lowest nuclear charge $Z < 1$ that will support a bound two-electron ion $(Z,2e^-)$?

In my programming project I calculate the minimal energy of an atom with 2 electrons in the $L=0, S=0$ state, using a Hylleraas wave function. The values I find for $Z=2$ (He) and $Z=1$ (H$^-$) are ...
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2answers
79 views

Total derivatives in GR

Without gravity we can easily switch between terms in a Lagrangian, such as $\partial\phi\partial\bar{\phi}$ and $\phi\Box\bar{\phi}$, since total derivative vanishes. But in GR we have additional ...
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1answer
190 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 ...
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1answer
136 views

When is numerical value of Lagrangian evaluated on-shell a full differential?

I noticed recently that for many field equations, Lagrangian evaluated on-shell (i.e. using equations of motions) is a full derivative- a divergence or something, or in other words a boundary term. ...
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1k views

Lagrangian for relativistic massless point particle

For relativistic massive particle, the action is $$S ~=~ -m_0 \int ds ~=~ -m_0 \int d\lambda ~\sqrt{ g_{\mu\nu} \dot{x}^{\mu}\dot{x}^{\nu}} ~=~ \int d\lambda \ L,$$ where $ds$ is the proper time of ...
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2answers
76 views

Derivation of Euler-Lagrange equation from principle of least action

When deriving the Euler-Lagrange equation for a field $\phi$ the term $$ \int\textrm{d}x^{\mu}~\partial_{\mu}\left( \dfrac{\partial \mathcal{L} }{\partial(\partial_{\mu}\phi)}\right)\delta\phi $$ is ...
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939 views

Question about the apparent loophole in principle of least action

In Lagrangian formalism, given two points $(x_1,t_1)$ and $(x_2,t_2)$, we ask the question which paths $x(t)$ make the action $S=\displaystyle \int_{t_1}^{t_2}L\ \mathrm dt$ stationary and satisfy the ...
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1answer
182 views

Acoustical wave equation from Hamilton's principle

It is common to show the features and power of the Hamilton's principle by deriving the equation of vibrating string, membrane etc. using this principle. But I have never seen that used for deriving ...
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2answers
565 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 ...
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57 views

Physical motivation for Lagrangian formalism

This is more of a request for clarification of understanding and intuition rather than a question, but I hope people can help me with it. I have learned calculus of variations and have subsequently ...
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1answer
449 views

Variation of the metric with respect to the metric

For a variation of the metric $g^{\mu\nu}$ with respect to $g^{\alpha\beta}$ you might expect the result (at least I did): \begin{equation} \frac{\delta g^{\mu\nu}}{\delta g^{\alpha\beta}}= ...
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2answers
92 views

Higher than Lagrangian/action?

When you begin learning physics, you start with equations of motion applied to various physics systems. In classical mechanics course you learn, that exists Lagrangian/action of a system, which gives ...
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77 views

Simple real life applications of Euler-Lagrange equations of motion

If you read some introductory mechanics text like David Morin's Introduction to Classical Mechanics about Euler Lagrange Equations you get a large amount of simple examples like the "moving plane" ...
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28 views

Must there exist a Lagrangian for any 2nd order ordinary derivative equation?

We know if there exist a Lagrangian of some ODE, then it must exist many equivalent Lagrangian. My question: Then must there exist a Lagrangian for any 2nd order ODE? If not, do we have some ...
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32 views

Is energy always a diminishing quantity in imaginary time?

If we write Schrodinger equation in imaginary time $\tau = it$, then one can easily show that the energy $E(\tau) = \langle \psi(\tau)| \hat{H} |\psi(\tau)\rangle$ is a diminishing quantity, i.e. ...
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1answer
110 views

Is there an action for every physical law?

Given an action, I can get the differential equation governing the evolution of the system by applying the principle of least action. Does it work the other way around? Given any differential ...
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1answer
44 views

Understanding Derivation of Euler-Lagrange

I am trying to understand the derivation of the Euler-Lagrange equation. I drew a graph below. So, according to the graph, $$ \int_{t_1}^{t_2} L(x+\delta{x},\dot{x}+\delta\dot{x}\,t) dt - ...
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2answers
486 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} \mathrm dt \langle \Phi(t) | i ...
3
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1answer
183 views

Hamilton's equations from the action with boundary conditions involving position and momentum

Generally, when you are given the action $$ S=\int_{t_1}^{t_2}\mathrm dt (p\dot q - \mathcal H )$$ the boundary conditions are $q(t_1)=q_1$ and $q(t_2)=q_2$. This is useful because to calculate ...
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1answer
82 views

Why can you make $V$ stationary with respect to a parameter of the field in Derrick's theorem?

I'm going over Coleman's derivation of Derrick's theorem for real scalar fields in the chapter Classical lumps and their quantum descendants from Aspects of Symmetry (page 194). Theorem: Let ...
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2answers
409 views

Derrick’s theorem

Consider a theory in $D$ spatial dimensions involving one or more scalar fields $\phi_a$, with a Lagrangian density of the form $$L= \frac{1}{2} G_{ab}(\phi) \partial_\mu \phi_a \partial^\mu \phi_b- ...
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0answers
82 views

On the surface, is the law of maximum entropy production the same as principle of least action?

I just have read about the law of maximum entropy production. Someone has idolized it enough to make an whole website just for it: http://www.lawofmaximumentropyproduction.com/ A system will ...
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1answer
48 views

Principle of Stationary Action and Euler-Lagrange Equation

Principle of Stationary Action: Given a mechanical system, there exists an action $S$ such that it is extremitized, or $\delta S=0$, for the actual motion of the system. $$S = ...
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34 views

How to calculate Lagrangian density function in classical field theory

In Lagrangian mechanics observing the possible degrees of freedom we first write down our Lagrangian. Then we use E-L equation to determine equation of motion and using sufficient boundary condition ...
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1answer
147 views

“Principle of least action” and “Principle of conservation of energy”: Which one is fundamental and which one is derived? [closed]

Suppose I throw a ball upwards. First it will rise under gravity and then fall under gravity. During the rising part the kinetic energy gradually decreases and the potential energy increases until ...
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19 views

Max & inflection point in the principle of least action [duplicate]

Short question: What is the physics interpretation of max & inflection points in the principle of least action? Long question: If $$L(q_1,q_2;t)=K-V$$ then let $$S = \int^{t_1}_{t_2} ...
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2answers
120 views

Finding geodesics: Lagrangian vs Hamiltonian

I have a question referring to how to compute geodesics of a given spacetime (say, Kerr). I know that the direct way is via the geodesic equation ...
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1answer
38 views

Simplify calculation of geodesics from action principle

I don't understand a step with the calculation of geodesics equations from action principle on this link : demo geodesics equations My issue is the following step : $$\int ...
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3answers
1k views

Hanging chain in a planet's gravitational field

The curve for a chain hanging between two poles in a uniform gravitational field is known as the catenary. Is there known an expression for the curve of a hanging chain on a planet of mass $M$ which ...
4
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1answer
434 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 ...
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1answer
94 views

Geometric derivation of quantum mechanics from Lagrangian mechanics

I have used classical Lagrangian mechanics for quite a while, and what I like about it is that everything can be derived from a very small number of geometric principles. There are just three things ...
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1answer
63 views

How do I derive geodesic equation using variational principle? [duplicate]

I am trying to derive the geodesic equation using variational principle. My Lagrangian is $$ L = \sqrt{g_{jk}(x(t)) \frac{dx^j}{dt} \frac{dx^k}{dt}}$$ Using the Euler-Lagrange equation, I have got ...
3
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2answers
65 views

shape formed by a stiff string with ends pinched together [closed]

Suppose I have a string of length $L$ with a bending energy given by $$E=\frac{1}{2}\epsilon \int_0^L ds\, (\mathbf{R}''(s))^2 $$ Let's say I form a bight with it by pinching the ends together, ...
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1answer
207 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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1answer
66 views

Action with self-dual field strength

It is said that writing down an action in presence of a self-dual field strength is subtle and not known till date. The familiar example people give is that of type IIB super-gravity which has a ...
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6answers
5k views

Why does calculus of variations work?

How does it make sense to vary the position and the velocity independently? Edit: Velocity is the derivative of position, so how can you treat them as independent variables? Doesn't every physics ...
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4answers
11k views

Derivation of Maxwell's equations from field tensor lagrangian

I've started reading Peskin and Schroeder on my own time, and I'm a bit confused about how to obtain Maxwell's equations from the (source-free) lagrangian density $L = ...
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1answer
70 views

Equivalence between principle of least action and minimum potential energy

Are the principle of least action and the principle of minimum potential energy equivalent? How does one show that? Also, are Newton's laws of motion equivalent to the principle of least action? How ...