Questions tagged [calculus-of-variations]

Questions on the calculus of variations, which deals with the optimization of functionals mostly defined on infinite dimensional spaces.

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33
votes
3answers
3k views

Central limit theorem via maximal entropy

Let $\rho(x)$ be a probability density function on $\mathbb{R}$ with prescribed variance $\sigma^2$, so that: $$\int_\mathbb{R} \rho(x)\, dx = 1$$ and $$\int_\mathbb{R} x^2 \rho(x), dx = \sigma^2$$ ...
26
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3answers
1k views

Largest possible volume of the convex hull of a curve of unit length

What is the largest possible volume of the convex hull of an open/closed curve of unit length in $\mathbb{R}^3$?
22
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2answers
2k views

How can you compute the maximum volume of an envelope(used to enclose a letter)?

It's obvious that the volume of a envelope is 0 when flat and non-0 when you open it up. However, if you were to fill it with liquid, there must be some shape where it has a maximum volume. Is there a ...
19
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2answers
901 views

Functional approach vs jet approach to Lagrangian field theory

Context: I am a PhD student in theoretical physics with higher-than-average education on differential geometry. I am trying to understand Lagrangian and Hamiltonian field theories and related concepts ...
19
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2answers
4k views

Surface equivalent of catenary curve

A catenary curve is the shape taken by an idealized hanging chain or rope under the influence of gravity. It has the equation $y= a \cosh (x/a)$. My question is: What is the shape taken by an ...
19
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0answers
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Characterising critical points of $E(f)=\int_{M}| \bigwedge^2 df|^2 \text{Vol}_{M}$

$\newcommand{\id}{\operatorname{Id}}$ $\newcommand{\R}{\mathbb{R}}$ $\newcommand{\TM}{\operatorname{TM}}$ $\newcommand{\Hom}{\operatorname{Hom}}$ $\newcommand{\Cof}{\operatorname{Cof}}$ $\newcommand{\...
17
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3answers
4k views

What was Weierstrass's counterexample to the Dirichlet Principle?

Shortly after his work on the foundations of geometry David Hilbert turned his attention to finding a suitable statement of the Dirichlet principle, from which to prove the Riemann mapping theorem and ...
17
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2answers
883 views

Example of ODE not equivalent to Euler-Lagrange equation

I am looking for an explicit (preferably simple) example of an ODE with time-independent coefficients in $\mathbb{R}^3$ such that there does not exist an Euler-Lagrange equation $$\frac{\partial L}{\...
17
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1answer
472 views

Is a smooth action of a semi-simple Lie group linearizable near a stationary point?

Suppose that $G$ is a semi-simple Lie group that acts smoothly (i.e., $C^\infty$) on a smooth, finite dimensional manifold $M$. Does it follow that the action of $G$ is linearizable near any ...
16
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6answers
3k views

Smallest area shape that covers all unit length curve

On a euclidean plane, what is the minimal area shape S, such that for every unit length curve, a translation and a rotation of S can cover the curve. What are the bounds of the shape's area if this ...
16
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1answer
1k views

What braking strategy is most fuel-efficient?

You notice a stop-light ahead of you and it is currently red. You can't run the red light, so you will have to brake, but braking wastes energy and you want to be as fuel efficient as possible. What ...
15
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3answers
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What are the major differences between real and complex Banach space?

Most theorems under real Banach space settings have their twin brothers for complex ones, say, the Hahn-Banach theorem. However, some theorems are not valid in complex Banach spaces, and vice versa. ...
14
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1answer
953 views

Who first resolved Hilbert's 20th problem?

Hilbert's 20th problem concerns the existence of solutions to the fundamental problem in the calculus of variations. I understand that Hilbert, Lebesgue and Tonelli were pioneers in this area. In ...
14
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1answer
444 views

“Small” maps from sphere to sphere

Start with a continuous map $f:S^{n+k} \rightarrow S^n$ (round unit spheres). The graph of $f$ lives in $S^{n+k}\times S^n$ and suppose it has a surface area (as a subspace of co-dimension $n$). Now ...
14
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3answers
2k views

Good reference for globally formulated calculus of variations on Riemannian manifolds?

I have been working on a formulation of the calculus of variations on Riemannian manifolds, formulated globally using [pullback] vector bundles and tensor bundles and their induced covariant ...
14
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1answer
1k views

Is $\delta(df \wedge df)=0$ an Euler-Lagrange equation?

$\newcommand{\id}{\operatorname{Id}}$ $\newcommand{\TM}{\operatorname{TM}}$ $\newcommand{\Hom}{\operatorname{Hom}}$ $\newcommand{\M}{\mathcal{M}}$ $\newcommand{\N}{\mathcal{N}}$ $\newcommand{\tr}{\...
13
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2answers
689 views

Tweetable way to see Riemannian isometries are harmonic?

$\newcommand{\al}{\alpha}$ $\newcommand{\euc}{\mathcal{e}}$ $\newcommand{\Cof}{\operatorname{Cof}}$ $\newcommand{\Det}{\operatorname{Det}}$ Smooth Riemannian isometries are harmonic. Can one conclude ...
13
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1answer
687 views

Area of the minimal surface of a non-planar quadrilateral in 3d

Consider a non-planar quadrilateral in three dimensions, i.e. four points $x_1,\dots,x_4$ in $\mathbb{R}^3$ that do not lie on a plane and connected by straight lines. Then, by general theory of ...
13
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1answer
379 views

Choquet theory and Hilbert's fourth problem

The following text is an attempt to see Hilbert's fourth problem in a new light. Definition. A pseudometric $d$ on $\mathbb{R}^n$ is called projective if whenever a point $z$ belongs to a line ...
13
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1answer
597 views

Is this expression for the Laplacian of conformal maps between Riemannian manifolds known?

$\newcommand{\M}{\mathcal{M}}$ $\newcommand{\N}{\mathcal{N}}$ $\newcommand{\Hom}{\operatorname{Hom}}$ $\newcommand{\tr}{\operatorname{tr}}$ $\newcommand{\TM}{\operatorname{T\M}}$ $\newcommand{\TN}{\...
12
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2answers
849 views

A riemannian manifold with finitely many closed contractible geodesics

By a closed geodesic, I mean a smooth periodic geodesic $\mathbb{R} \rightarrow (M,g)$. I will consider them up to geometric distinction. This means that any two closed geodesics are equivalent if ...
12
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0answers
223 views

dual to Hodge theory

Let $(M,g)$ be a closed Riemannian manifold. In my understanding Hodge theory shows that any de Rham cohomology class can be represented uniquely by a harmonic form. Moreover the harmonic form ...
11
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5answers
2k views

Maxwell equations as Euler-Lagrange equation without electromagnetic potential

In (mathematical) physics many equations of motion can be interpreted as Euler-Lagrange (EL) equations. The Maxwell equation for electromagnetic (EM) field (say in vacuum and in absence of charges) ...
11
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2answers
788 views

For what metrics are circles solutions of the isoperimetric problem?

A classical result is that solutions of the isoperimetric problem on the plane, the sphere, and the hyperbolic plane are circles. Are there any other Riemannian metrics on these spaces that share this ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Invariance of the l.h.s. of Euler-Lagrange equation

Let $M^n$ be a smooth manifold equipped with a nondegenerate Lagrangian $L:TM\to\mathbb R$, $L=L(x,y)$, $x\in M$, $y\in T_xM$. The stationary points of the corresponding integral functional on curves ...
11
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1answer
2k views

Results about existence/uniqueness of solution to Euler-Lagrange equations?

While studying calculus of variations, there is one question that I feel is missing in the texts I'm reading: What can we say about the existence and/or uniqueness of solutions to Euler-Lagrange ...
11
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1answer
495 views

What is the first eigenvalue of $p$-Laplacian on unit sphere $S^n$?

We know that the first eigenvalue of Laplacian on the Riemannian unit sphere $S^n$ is $n$, then what is the explicit expression for the first eigenvalue of $p$-Laplacian on $S^n$? The $p$-Laplacian ...
11
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2answers
581 views

Prove/disprove $(\int_{0}^{2 \pi} \!\!\cos f(x) d x)^{2}+(\int_{0}^{2 \pi}\!\!\! \sqrt{(f'(x))^{2}+\sin ^{2} f(x)}dx)^{2}\ge 4\pi^{2}$

This problem has been posted on Math.SE but didn't receive any correct answer after a long time. Let $f(x)$ be a differentiable function on $[0,2\pi]$ s.t. $0\leq f(x)\leq 2\pi$ and $f(0)=f(2\pi)$. ...
11
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0answers
417 views

Maximizing the volume in a family of subsets of a cube

Starting from a question in probability, I arrived to the following optimization problem. Let $I:=[0, 1],$ and let $A$ be a Lebesgue measurable subset of the $n$-dimensional cube, $A\subset I^n.$ ...
10
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3answers
750 views

Rigorous justification that overdetermined systems do not have a solution

There is the following well known and very useful heuristic principle: Assume one has a natural map from the space of $k$-tuples of functions in $n$ variables into the space of $K$-tuples of functions ...
10
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5answers
972 views

Convex curves with many inscribed triangles maximizing perimeter

A classical nice result of Euclidean geometry states that the triangles maximizing the perimeter among all inscribed triangles of a given ellipse constitue a one-parameter family. Precisely, for each ...
10
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1answer
656 views

Vector fields on path spaces

I've been reading Chen's original works on iterated integrals and in order to consider differential forms on the path space $PM$ of a smooth manifold $M$ he gives $PM$ the following "differentiable ...
10
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1answer
623 views

How to shrink a square with minimal distortion?

$\newcommand{\CO}{\text{CO}_2}$ $\newcommand{\euc}{\mathfrak{e}}$ $\newcommand{\SO}{\text{SO}_2}$ $\newcommand{\al}{\alpha}$ $\newcommand{\dist}{\text{dist}}$ $\newcommand{\Lip}{\text{Lip}_{\text{inj}}...
9
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5answers
11k views

Beginners text on calculus of variations

I want to begin learning Calculus of Variations. What texts would MathOverflow recommend? Amazon shows up quite a few options: http://tinyurl.com/36koaq4 I work on Machine Learning, and that where ...
9
votes
4answers
8k views

Good book on Calculus of Variations

What is a good book on the Calculus of Variations, for a second year PhD student?
9
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1answer
650 views

Why the least action principle is always (?) used in this particular form?

The least action principle in (mathematical) physics says the following. Given a system, e.g. collection of particles, whose motion satisfies a known system of differential equations (of second order)...
9
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4answers
1k views

Boundedness of nonlinear continuous functionals

Let $K$ be the closed unit ball of $C[0,1]$, and let $f$ in $C(K,\mathbb{\, R})$. Is it true that there exists an infinite dimensional reflexive subspace $E$ of $C[0,1]$ s.t. $f(K\cap E)$ is bounded ? ...
9
votes
1answer
505 views

Do these surfaces intersect?

For any real numbers $a_{1},a_{2},\cdots a_{6}$ and $b_{1},b_{2},\cdots b_{6}$ with $\sum_{i=1}^{6}a_{i}^{2}=1$ and $\sum_{i=1}^{6}b_{i}^{2}=1$, does the equation $$ x_{1}^{2}x_{2}^{2}x_{3}^{2}x_{4}^{...
9
votes
1answer
263 views

Which domain maximizes the energy of the Lebesgue measure?

This could be asked in more generality, but let me stick to a concrete case. Usually one considers a fixed domain $E \subset \mathbb{C}$ and attaches to it the equilibrium probability measure $\nu_E$...
8
votes
1answer
352 views

Largest convex hull of a unit length path

What is the largest area possible for the convex hull of a path of unit length lying on a plane? For what paths is that largest area attained?
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Coordinate-free derivation of the Einstein's field equation from the Hilbert action.

It is well-known that the equation for stationary solutions of the Einstein-Hilbert functional (without matter and cosmological constant, which is irrelevant here): $$S = \int_M R \mu_g,$$ is given by ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Textbooks or notes on gradient flows in metric spaces

What is a good introduction in gradient flows in metric spaces? I know the book Gradient flows: in metric spaces and in the space of probability measures by Luigi Ambrosio, Nicola Gigli and Giuseppe ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Variational formulation for bilaplacian

I am trying to derive a variational formulation for the following problem $$\left\{ \begin{array}{ll} \Delta^2u=f, & \Omega \\ \Delta u+\rho \partial_{\nu}u=0, & \partial \Omega \end{array}\...
8
votes
1answer
714 views

Sticks and thread

In this recent question Math puzzles for dinner we had a nice time as we were asked to provide new maths puzzles for dinners. I suggested the following: Given three equal sticks, and some thread, ...
8
votes
1answer
508 views

Generalizing “variation of parameters”

I'm stuck on generalizing an ODE formula and could use your help! One way to think about "variation of parameters" is that it bakes the solution $z(t)=e^{At}z_0$ of $z'=Az$ (here $z(t)\in\mathbb{R}^n$...
8
votes
1answer
415 views

Countable (?) dependent choice

In some circumstances I've been using a form of choice over the first uncountable ordinal knowing a priori that only a countable number of choices were going to be made (without any a priori upper ...
8
votes
2answers
414 views

In which sense are Euler-Lagrange PDE's on fiber bundles quasi-linear?

In what follows, all manifolds are smooth, Hausdorff, paracompact, connected and oriented, and all maps between any two of them are assumed to be smooth. Let $\pi:E\rightarrow M$ be a fiber bundle ...
8
votes
1answer
744 views

Maximal tetrahedra inscribed in ellipsoid

Pietro Majer quoted the theorem of Michel Chasles in his MO question, "Convex curves with many inscribed triangles maximizing perimeter," which states that the triangles of maximum perimeter inscribed ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

Calculating the geodesic equation for a particular set of phase-space coordinates

Let $g$ be a Riemannian metric on the $d$-dimensional flat space $\mathbb R^d$, and consider the usual Lagrangian $$L(x, \dot x) = \tfrac 1 2 g_{ij}(x) \dot x^i \dot x^j.$$ Let $\hat g := \sqrt g$ ...
8
votes
0answers
96 views

Hölder isoperimetric problem

Denote by $S_r$ the usual circle of radius $r$, with the path metric ($d(x,y) = r\theta$, where $\theta$ is the angle between the vectors $x$ and $y$), and let $\alpha \in (1/2,1)$. Consider the ...

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