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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2answers
149 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 ...
1
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1answer
128 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
21 views

In Fermat's Principle of Least Time, how do we know that light is able to reach the end point?

From my understanding of Fermat's Principle, you decide a start point and an end point for a light ray to travel between, and the light 'chooses' whichever path takes the least time (or technically ...
4
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1answer
251 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
128 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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0answers
34 views

Is there any reason for principle of least action to be true? [duplicate]

My question is not rigidly related to physics. The principle of least actions says that for any dynamical system there exists a function parameterized by $q$'s and $\dot{q}$'s such that the line ...
2
votes
1answer
176 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 ...
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3answers
128 views

Do we have a deeper understanding of Fermat's Principle?

Fermat's principle says that light travels between two points along the path that requires least time as compared to other nearby paths. But why this is so? Why can't light follow other paths? How ...
0
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1answer
135 views

Independence of position and velocity in Lagrangian from the point of view of physics? [duplicate]

I would like to continue discussion from my previous post on time dependence of lagrangian Time dependence of the Lagrangian of a free particle?. I have also read this old post Why does calculus of ...
4
votes
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 ...
5
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2answers
512 views

Why don't all free particles lose their kinetic energy?

I'm currently studying Action. I've been reading about how a particle has particular probabilities of ending at an infinite number of events. Say I have a free particle that isn't experiencing any ...
0
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1answer
57 views

On the connection between forces and the principle of stationary action

Feynman tries to account for the relation between the principle of stationary action, which is a statement about the whole path of a particle, and Newton's second law, which is a statement about the ...
5
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1answer
173 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 ...
1
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0answers
41 views

Variation of quadratic term in modified Einstein-Hilbert actions

In the context of mimetic gravity at some point one try to add to an already modified Einstein-Hilbert action also a term like $$ S_\chi=\int\,d^4x\,\sqrt{-g}\frac{1}{2}\gamma\chi^2,\qquad(\star) $$ ...
1
vote
3answers
84 views

Formulating the Lagrangian in terms of invariant quantities

Consider a closed system consisting of $N$ point particles, whose Lagrangian is given in the standard way, by the total kinetic energy minus the potential energy: $\mathcal{L}(\dot{q},q):= T(\dot{q}) ...
3
votes
1answer
290 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
245 views

Deriving Newton's first law from the principle of least action

Newton's first law states that if the net force on an object is zero, then this object moves with constant velocity. I'm interested in the derivation of this law from the principle of least action. ...
0
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1answer
39 views

Elementary question about distributive property of variation operator on an exterior product

I am trying to work out the equations of motion of a 11-dimensional supergravity action $$S = \frac{1}{2\kappa^2}\left(\gamma\int d^{11}x\sqrt{|g|}\mathcal{R} - \frac{\alpha}{2}\int G \wedge \star G ...
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0answers
39 views

A question on elementary Lagrangian mechanics(perhaps a bit of maths) [duplicate]

I am stuck with this question Consider the action, from $t=0$ to $t=1$, of a ball dropped from rest. From the Euler-Lagrange equation, we know that $y(t)={-gt^2 \over 2}$ yields a stationary value ...
6
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2answers
392 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 ...
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3answers
87 views

The Nambu-Goto action how do we know the Hamilton's principle applies?

I am reading 'A first course in string theory' by Barton Zwiebach (2ed) on page 112 he comes up (after a small derivation) the action formula: $$S=-\frac{T_0}{c} \int d\tau d \sigma \sqrt{-\gamma}.$$ ...
0
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1answer
36 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 ...
10
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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 ?
0
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1answer
49 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
69 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 ...
2
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0answers
45 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
122 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 ...
0
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3answers
79 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 ...
1
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2answers
76 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
votes
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 ...
4
votes
4answers
324 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 $\mathbb{R} \to M$, ...
0
votes
1answer
59 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
28 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 ...
1
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1answer
57 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
142 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
votes
1answer
87 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 $$ ...
2
votes
3answers
74 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
votes
1answer
65 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, ...
0
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0answers
36 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 ...
-3
votes
2answers
92 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?
0
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2answers
85 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
votes
1answer
63 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
vote
1answer
70 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
votes
2answers
439 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
votes
1answer
132 views
0
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1answer
58 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
54 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?
2
votes
0answers
61 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 ...
0
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1answer
86 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 ...
1
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1answer
167 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 ...