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0answers
24 views

A simple question about equation of motion in polchinski's String theory?

In page 14 to get the equation of motion, it takes the variation of the action $$ S_P[X,\gamma]=-\frac{1}{4\pi\alpha'}\int_Md\tau d\sigma(-\gamma)^{1/2}\gamma^{ab}\partial_a X^\mu\partial_b X_\mu $$ ...
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0answers
50 views

Variational formulation of Maxwell equations with interface/boundary conditions

Consider $\Omega = \Omega_1 \cup \Omega_2$, where $\Omega _1$ and $\Omega_2$ are two different media with conductivity and permeability \begin{equation} \sigma= \begin{cases} \sigma _1 & \text{in ...
2
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2answers
67 views

How does Hamilton's Principle give us the path taken?

We defined the action as: $$\mathcal{S}(t)=\int_{t_1}^{t_2}\mathcal{L}(q_i,\dot{q_i},t) dt$$ where $q_i(t_1)$ and $q_i(t_2)$ are known and fixed. Hamilton's principle states that the path that is ...
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0answers
34 views

Deriving Canonical Transformation from Generating Function using Principle of Stationary Action

In Hamill's "A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians", section 5.2, the equations for a canonical transformation $(q,p) \to (Q,P)$, induced by the generating function $F(q,Q,t)$ are derived ...
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0answers
18 views

How can we predict how a system evolves using the stationary action principle even though we need to specify the final state? [duplicate]

The stationary action principle states that a system evolves between a fixed initial and fixed final configuration in such a way that the action is stationary. But isn't the final configuration what ...
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0answers
29 views

Doubt regarding Fermat's principle [duplicate]

Which two points are we talking about in Fermat's principle? Are those points decided by light or decided by us? Can we take any two points?
3
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2answers
161 views

Why can we consider the endpoint fixed in the derivation of the Euler-Lagrange equation in mechanics?

In mechanics, we obtain the equations of motion (Euler-Lagrange equations) via Hamilton's principle by considering stationary points of the action $$ S = \int_{t_i}^{t_f} L ~ dt $$ where we have $L=T-...
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4answers
177 views

What is the physical meaning of the statement ''Lagrangian can only be defined up to a total derivative"?

Considering an analogue for potential energy of a physical system, it can be unique up to an additive constant but this can be explained on the ground that we are really interested in the change of ...
5
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1answer
495 views

Why the variation of a surface term is zero?

My original question is like: Why are the Euler-Lagrange equations invariant if we add a surface term to the action? And there is an answer by Javier: https://physics.stackexchange.com/a/...
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0answers
60 views

Why is Hamilton's Principle not the 'Principle of Least Action'? [duplicate]

Hamilton's Principle is that the first order variations of $\displaystyle\int^{t_2}_{t_1} L$ $ dt$ for an on-shell trajectory in the configuration space should vanish provided the varied off-shell ...
10
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2answers
815 views

Necessity of the Gibbons-Hawking-York (GHY) boundary term

The fundamental point of my question is whether the GHY-boundary term in general relativity is even necessary at all, and if yes, then why is it so, and what is its physical significance. Several ...
5
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2answers
987 views

Why my 4-divergence term added to a Lagrangian modifies the equation of motion?

I take this Lagrangian: $$\mathcal{L}=\mathcal{L}_0+\partial_\alpha f(\phi, \partial_\mu \phi).$$ In this topic Does a four-divergence extra term in a Lagrangian density matter to the field ...
2
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1answer
151 views

Boundary conditions in variational principles

In classical mechanics, the condition to fix the variation of the trajectory at the endpoints has a clear-cut meaning. We want the system to propagate from $x\in\mathcal{C}$ to $y\in\mathcal{C}$, ...
1
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1answer
135 views

Physical meaning of boundary conditions in local variation of action

In the procedure to obtain Euler Lagrange equation of motion, as a consequence of the local variation of the action I obtain the term (see picture). To eliminate it, I must assume the asymptotic ...
2
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1answer
1k views

Higher-Order Derivatives in the Lagrangian

I am trying to derive the equations of motion for a Lagrangian which depends on $(q, \dot{q}, \ddot{q}).$ I proceed by the typical route via Hamilton's Principle, $\delta S = 0$ by effecting a ...
2
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1answer
116 views

Using the open strings endpoints' boundary conditions and then obtain the EOM

In Zweibach's A first course in string theory, he used the least action principle to get the equations of motion for strings, wehre the variation of action(which should be zero) is : $$\delta S = \...
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3answers
271 views

Principle of Least Action Question

Let's say we have a particle with no forces on it. The path that this classical particle takes is the one that minimizes the integral $$\frac{1}{2}m\int_{t_i}^{t_f}v^2dt.$$ So if we graph this for ...
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2answers
643 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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2answers
1k 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 ...
2
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0answers
74 views

“Simple” Variation of the gravity action with boundary

I'm concerned with the derivation of the quasi-local stress tensor (getting from eqn 2.4 to eqn 2.6 in this paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0508218). As is the case with all the references I have ...
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2answers
141 views

Principle of least action and greedy algorithm

Is the principle of least action sort of a greedy algorithm that all mechanical systems follow?, sometimes to minimise and sometimes to maximise the quantity we call action, at each individual step.
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2answers
1k views

Goldstein's derivation of the 'principle of least action'

I want make an punctual question ands it's about The derivation of the expression $$ \Delta\int_{t_1}^{t_2} Ldt=L(t_2)\Delta t_2-L(t_1)\Delta t_1 + \int_{t_1}^{t_2} \delta L dt. \tag{8.74}$$ You can ...
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6answers
1k views

When/why does the principle of least action plus boundary conditions not uniquely specify a path?

A few months ago I was telling high school students about Fermat's principle. You can use it to show that light reflects off a surface at equal angles. To set it up, you put in boundary conditions, ...
5
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2answers
577 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 ...
3
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0answers
238 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
791 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 $t, q(t)$ ...
3
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2answers
463 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 ...
1
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1answer
442 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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1answer
533 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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0answers
354 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 ...
1
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2answers
133 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
911 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 \left(\frac {\partial L}{\partial\left(\partial_\...
5
votes
1answer
448 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 $$q(t_1)=q_1\quad\text{and}\quad q(t_2)=q_2.$$ This is useful ...
11
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3answers
6k 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: $$L = L(q, \dot{q}, \ddot{q},t).\tag{1}$$ If we're working on the variational problem for this Lagrangian, then I know that we'...
5
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3answers
3k views

Does a four-divergence extra term in a Lagrangian density matter to the field equations?

Greiner in his book "Field Quantization" page 173, eq.(7.11) did this calculation: ${\mathcal L}^\prime=-\frac{1}{2}\partial_\mu A_\nu\partial^\mu A^\nu+\frac{1}{2}\partial_\mu A_\nu\partial^\nu A^\...
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1answer
302 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 ...
40
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5answers
3k views

Is the principle of least action a boundary value or initial condition problem?

Here is a question that's been bothering me since I was a sophomore in university, and should have probably asked before graduating: In analytic (Lagrangian) mechanics, the derivation of the Euler-...