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Lecture# Geodesics and Surface Area

Description

This lecture covers the concept of geodesics as the locally shortest path between points, their appearance in physics, and the principle of least action. It also explains how to define the area of a surface using parametric squares.

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Related concepts (21)

Ce cours donne une introduction à la géométrie des courbes et des surfaces.

Parametric surface

A parametric surface is a surface in the Euclidean space which is defined by a parametric equation with two parameters . Parametric representation is a very general way to specify a surface, as well as implicit representation. Surfaces that occur in two of the main theorems of vector calculus, Stokes' theorem and the divergence theorem, are frequently given in a parametric form. The curvature and arc length of curves on the surface, surface area, differential geometric invariants such as the first and second fundamental forms, Gaussian, mean, and principal curvatures can all be computed from a given parametrization.

Gauss's principle of least constraint

The principle of least constraint is one variational formulation of classical mechanics enunciated by Carl Friedrich Gauss in 1829, equivalent to all other formulations of analytical mechanics. Intuitively, it says that the acceleration of a constrained physical system will be as similar as possible to that of the corresponding unconstrained system. The principle of least constraint is a least squares principle stating that the true accelerations of a mechanical system of masses is the minimum of the quantity where the jth particle has mass , position vector , and applied non-constraint force acting on the mass.

Stationary-action principle

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.

Fermat's principle

Fermat's principle, also known as the principle of least time, is the link between ray optics and wave optics. Fermat's principle states that the path taken by a ray between two given points is the path that can be traveled in the least time. First proposed by the French mathematician Pierre de Fermat in 1662, as a means of explaining the ordinary law of refraction of light (Fig. 1), Fermat's principle was initially controversial because it seemed to ascribe knowledge and intent to nature.

Action (physics)

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.