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Lecture# Principle of Least Action

Description

This lecture introduces the principle of least action, which minimizes a function through the Euler-Lagrange equations. It covers Lagrange multipliers, normal coordinates, and the Euler-Lagrange formalism. The concept is illustrated graphically and mathematically, emphasizing the importance of variational calculus and symmetries.

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In course

PHYS-202: Analytical mechanics (for SPH)

Présentation des méthodes de la mécanique analytique (équations de Lagrange et de Hamilton) et introduction aux notions de modes normaux et de stabilité.

Instructor

Related concepts (204)

In physics, action is a scalar quantity describing how a physical system has changed over time (its dynamics). Action is significant because the equations of motion of the system can be derived through the principle of stationary action. In the simple case of a single particle moving with a constant velocity (uniform linear motion), the action is the momentum of the particle times the distance it moves, added up along its path; equivalently, action is twice the particle's kinetic energy times the duration for which it has that amount of energy.

The stationary-action principle – also known as the principle of least action – is a variational principle that, when applied to the action of a mechanical system, yields the equations of motion for that system. The principle states that the trajectories (i.e. the solutions of the equations of motion) are stationary points of the system's action functional. The principle can be used to derive Newtonian, Lagrangian and Hamiltonian equations of motion, and even general relativity, as well as classical electrodynamics and quantum field theory.

In physics, Lagrangian mechanics is a formulation of classical mechanics founded on the stationary-action principle (also known as the principle of least action). It was introduced by the Italian-French mathematician and astronomer Joseph-Louis Lagrange in his 1788 work, Mécanique analytique. Lagrangian mechanics describes a mechanical system as a pair consisting of a configuration space and a smooth function within that space called a Lagrangian. For many systems, where and are the kinetic and potential energy of the system, respectively.

In physics, Hamilton's principle is William Rowan Hamilton's formulation of the principle of stationary action. It states that the dynamics of a physical system are determined by a variational problem for a functional based on a single function, the Lagrangian, which may contain all physical information concerning the system and the forces acting on it. The variational problem is equivalent to and allows for the derivation of the differential equations of motion of the physical system.

In classical mechanics, Maupertuis's principle (named after Pierre Louis Maupertuis) states that the path followed by a physical system is the one of least length (with a suitable interpretation of path and length). It is a special case of the more generally stated principle of least action. Using the calculus of variations, it results in an integral equation formulation of the equations of motion for the system. Maupertuis's principle states that the true path of a system described by generalized coordinates between two specified states and is a stationary point (i.

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