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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120 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
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
86 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 ...
4
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1answer
215 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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51 views

Lagrangian mechanics and initial conditions vs boundary conditions

It bothers me that many basic books on the classical mechanics don't discuss the following difference between "Newton's laws" and the "Principle of stationary action". Newton's laws can predict the ...
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2answers
49 views

Confusion about what the Euler-Lagrange equation says

I roughly understand the concept of the Lagrangian $L = T - V$ as well as the idea of stationary action $\delta \mathcal{S} =0$. However, I am confused what the Euler-Lagrange equation actually says. ...
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1answer
43 views

What is an “equation of motion” as used in context of geodesic equation?

I am studying general relativity and using the book Gravity by James Hartle. On page 170, he provides the following table: I don't understand what he means by "equation of motion" nor do I ...
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1answer
72 views

Using Lagrangian mechanics instead of Newtonian mechanics

When studying advanced classical mechanics, we all study about Lagrangians and the Euler-Lagrange equations and their importance. Of course, the Lagrangian is calculated based on the potential and ...
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1answer
44 views

Geodesic equation from the proper time integral

This is something that has been bothering me for a little while. The usual procedure that I've seen is to write the proper time as the line integral $$\tau=\int_\gamma d\tau$$ along some curve ...
2
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1answer
128 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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0answers
33 views

Ritz Variational Method

I want to use the Ritz Variational method to find a good approximation ground state and ground state energy for the hydrogen atom. For that purpose I take two different ansatzes, do the machinery of ...
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0answers
186 views

Is the principle of least action fully equivalent to the Euler-Lagrange equations?

I am citing from Landau and Lifschitz, this statement that will seem to you well-known, trivial, etc: "Between these positions, (i.e. $q_1$ and $q_2$) the system moves then in such a way that the ...
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1answer
205 views

How do you determine the Lagrangian?

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 ...
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1answer
65 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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0answers
27 views

Lagrangians with higher derivatives than Klein-Gordon [duplicate]

Has anyone ever tried to work with Lagrangians involving higher derivatives? The Klein-Gordon Lagrangian only involves $(\frac{\partial}{\partial t})^2$ and $\nabla^2$ terms, what about third and ...
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1answer
49 views

Deriving the Canonical Energy Momentum Tensor

In the Mathematics for Physics of Stone and Goldbart the canonical energy momentum tensor is derived by the action principle as follows. To the action of the form $$ S=\int ...
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2answers
155 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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3answers
638 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). ...
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2answers
627 views

Functional derivative in Lagrangian field theory

The following functional derivative holds: \begin{align} \frac{\delta q(t)}{\delta q(t')} ~=~ \delta(t-t') \end{align} and \begin{align} \frac{\delta \dot{q}(t)}{\delta q(t')} ~=~ \delta'(t-t') ...
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1answer
45 views

Lagrangian for second-order system

Given an $n$-dimensional second-order system $$\ddot q^i-\sum_{j=1}^n A^i_j\dot q^j=0,$$ where $A$ is a constant matrix, is it possible to find a Lagrangian such that the above equation is the ...
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4answers
251 views

Why drops form spheres?

Consider a drop of water floating in an inertial frame in STP air (e.g., the ISS). Intuitively, the equilibrium shape of the drop is a sphere. How would one prove that? Is it equivalent to showing ...
3
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0answers
64 views

Euler-Lagrange equation (equation of motion) solution with hairy Lagrangian [closed]

I'm going through Zwiebach Chapter 6 on relativistic strings to try to solve a similar problem. I got all the way to my equation of motion \begin{eqnarray*} \delta S & = & [ p' \delta ...
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1answer
59 views

Kohn-Sham equations from variational principle

I'm trying to understand how the Kohn-Sham equations arise from the variational principle, failing. I think my problem is the inability to apply the variational principle. Or, I lack some crucial ...
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1answer
66 views

Intuition behind Hamilton's Variational Principle

Background: I am an upper level undergraduate physics student who just completed a course in classical mechanics, concluding with Lagrangian Mechanics and Hamilton's Variational Principle. My ...
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1answer
95 views

Is there an error in Susskinds' derivation of Euler-Lagrange equations?

http://imgur.com/kZO5C0V First, I believe there is a trivial error. The second equation should have another $\Delta t$ multiplying everything on the right. It is divided out later when the equation ...
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36 views

What are the end points in the action integral of field theory?

In the mechanics of particles when we apply the principle of the least action the two end points are two spatial coordinates. Therefore, if we consider the variation of the action with respect to the ...
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3answers
112 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
69 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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1answer
85 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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1answer
82 views

Total derivative in action of the field theory

Consider a classical field theory. When applying the least action I see that a term is considered total derivative. We say that $$\int \partial_\mu (\frac {\partial L}{\partial(\partial_\mu ...
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6answers
3k 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 ...
3
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1answer
96 views

Can action be unbounded from below?

While solving the problem in this question, I found cases where the numerical optimization failed, suspecting unboundedness of the function being minimized. The function approximates the action of the ...
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183 views

When is the principle of stationary action not the principle of least action?

I've only had a very brief introduction to Lagrangian mechanics. In a physics course I took last year, we briefly covered the principle of stationary action --- we looked at it, derived some equations ...
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3answers
513 views

Type of stationary point in Hamilton's principle

In this question it is discussed why by Hamilton's principle the action integral must be stationary. Most examples deal with the case that the action integral is minimal: this makes sense - we all ...
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3answers
397 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 ...
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1answer
74 views

Least action principle — numerical simulation strangeness

I'm trying to get some experience with the least action principle, and for this I chose a simple 1-dimensional problem of a particle moving in some field. The least action principle would then look ...
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3answers
115 views

Variational Theorem proof

I have been trying to prove variational theorem in quantum mechanics for a couple of days but I can't understand the logic behind certain steps. Here is what I have so far: \begin{equation} ...
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0answers
42 views

Action principles and covariant equations [duplicate]

Can every physically sound differential equation, that is covariant, deterministic etc. be derived by extremising a suitable action using a suitable lagrangian, that may be arbitary. Is this a ...
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1answer
71 views

One step in deriving the Einstein-Hilbert action

In this amazing first principles derivation of the Einstein-Hilbert action there is one small manipulation needed to show $$c g_{ab,cd}\left(\eta^{ac}\eta^{bd} - \eta^{ab}\eta^{cd}\right)$$ is ...
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1answer
442 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.
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1answer
150 views

Why is it so coincident that Palatini variation of Einstein-Hilbert action will obtain an equation that connection is Levi-Civita connection?

There are two ways to do the variation of Einstein-Hilbert action. First one is Einstein formalism which takes only metric independent. After variation of action, we get the Einstein field equation. ...
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2answers
199 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 ...
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1answer
76 views

Is it possible to have the principle of least action and multiple solutions?

This is possibly a silly question but when we derive the equations of motion of a particle using the principle of least action. We must assume that there is a single minimum (for a fixed choice of ...
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1answer
38 views

Relevance of this equation

The book 'The variational princples of mechanics' by Lanczos was recommended to me and I am reading it now. So far it is an enjoyable journey, but I don't see the significance of this equation: $t = ...
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2answers
331 views

Finding 3-Sphere Christoffel connection coefficients using variational calculus, Sean Carrol problem

I have A 3-Sphere with coordinates $x^{\mu} = (\psi,\theta,\phi)$ and the following metric: \begin{equation} ds^2 = d\psi^2 + \text{sin}^2\psi(d\theta^2 + \text{sin}^2\theta d\phi^2) \end{equation} ...
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1answer
65 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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125 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 ...
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1answer
495 views

Fluid Mechanics from a variational principle

It is possible to define a good variational principle to describe Fluid Mechanics? if so, what is the correct treatment of the issue. I guess something like: $$I=\int d^4x \left(\frac{1}{2}\rho ...
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1answer
105 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) ...
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2answers
615 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 ...