Some problems on Minimizers in Classical Mechanics

Prashant Saxena

Friday 20th January, 2012 16:00-17:00 Mathematics Building, room 516


Johann Bernoulli, in June 1696, posed the well known Brachistochrone problem - {Given two points A and B in a vertical plane, what is the curve traced out by a point acted on only by gravity, which starts at A and reaches B in the shortest time?} This was one of the earliest of a class of problems in Mechanics which led to the development of 'Calculus of Variations' - a branch of Mathematics. The general aim is to minimize a quantity (eg. energy, time) to obtain the required solution. We shall look at a basic proof and some similar problems in this talk.

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