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The Lazy Universe – An Introduction to the Principle of Least Action - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Lazy Universe: An Introduction to the Principle of Least Action

Jennifer Coopersmith


Action and the Principle of Least Action are explained: what Action is, why the Principle of Least Action works, why it underlies all physics, and what are the insights gained into energy, space, and time. The physical and mathematical origins of the Lagrange Equations, Hamilton’s Equations, the Lagrangian, the Hamiltonian, and the Hamilton-Jacobi Equation are shown. Also, worked examples in Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Mechanics are given. However the aim is to explain physics rather than to give a technical mastery of the subject. Therefore, much of the mathematics is in the appendices. While ... More

Keywords: Least Action, Lagrangian Mechanics, Hamiltonian Mechanics, Variational Mechanics, Cornelius Lanczos, Hamilton-Jacobi Equation, phase space, Fermat’s Principle, Noether’s Theorem

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2017 Print ISBN-13: 9780198743040
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198743040.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Jennifer Coopersmith, author
Honorary Research Associate, La Trobe University, Australia

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