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What is a good reference for a geometric version of Noether's theorem about Lagrangians, symmetries and conserved currents?

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As a starting point you could look at the first volume of Modern Geometry: Methods and applications, by Dubrovin, Fomenko and Novikov – Giuseppe Tortorella Jun 28 '11 at 21:35

5 Answers 5

There are not too many books that do a proper job regarding Noether's theorem. Some books which are standard references for a differential geometric treatment of theoretical (classical) mechanics, and which deal with it in that language are:

As a theoretical physicist who wanted to study these things in the most mathematical way possible, I found those books extremely helpful to bridge the gap between the two settings. For the history of such an important result, this recent book is very interesting:

You may also be interested in the style of mathematical mechanics articles and books developed by:

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Another excellent book that does a proper job with Noether's Theorem is Peter Olver's Applications of Lie Groups to Differential Equations.

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Javier already gave some very good references. Let me just add one more if you are thinking about classical field theories: Demetrios Christodoulou, Action Principle and Partial Differential Equations.

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The simplest, most elegant and strongest version I know is, by far, the one in Aderson's book (see page 106 and ss.) He deals directly with the variational equation, with no explicit mention to the lagrangian.

(By the way, it is surprising why this statement is not mentioned in Schwarzbachs' book!)

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@Jose Navarro: It seems to me that now the link is broken. – Giuseppe Tortorella May 16 '12 at 8:29
Thanks, Guiseppe. I think now it's fixed. – Capitaine Haddock May 21 '12 at 9:21

A fairly modern approach which is usually attributed to Vinogradov (see also the last part of Kosmann-Schwarzbachs "Noether Theorems") can be found in the book Symmetries and Conservation Laws for Differential Equations in Mathematical Physics. The chapter on conservation laws and the Noether theorem is somewhat dense and requires a little familiarity with homological algebra and spectral sequences. So it might be good to complement it with another book (like Olvers).

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this sounds like a kind of approach which would be natural - do you know of any references on the web to this? – user4 Jun 29 '11 at 20:02
These lecture notes: arXiv:math/9808130 by two of the same authors cover similar topics. – Michael Bächtold Jun 30 '11 at 5:02

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