Variational calculus is a field of mathematical analysis that uses variations, which are small changes in functions and functionals, to find extrema of functionals: mappings from a set of functions to the real numbers. The archetype application in physics is Lagrangian mechanics, seeking extrema of action functionals.

Variational calculus is a field of mathematical analysis that uses variations, which are small changes in functions and functionals, to find extrema of functionals: mappings from a set of functions to the real numbers. The archetype application in physics is Lagrangian mechanics, seeking extrema of action functionals.