Calculus of Variations
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The calculus of variations has a long history of interaction with other branches of mathematics, such as geometry and differential equations, and with physics, particularly mechanics. More recently, the calculus of variations has found applications in other fields such as economics and electrical engineering. Much of the mathematics underlying control theory, for instance, can be regarded as part of the calculus of variations. This book is an introductory account of the calculus of variations suitable for advanced undergraduate and graduate students of mathematics, physics, or engineering. The mathematical background assumed of the reader is a course in multivariable calculus, and some familiarity with the elements of real analysis and ordinary differential equations. The book focuses on variational problems that involve one independent variable. The fixed endpoint problem and problems with constraints are discussed in detail. In addition, more advanced topics such as the inverse problem, eigenvalue problems, separability conditions for the Hamilton-Jacobi equation, and Noether's theorem are discussed. The text contains numerous examples to illustrate key concepts along with problems to help the student consolidate the material. The book can be used as a textbook for a one semester course on the calculus of variations, or as a book to supplement a course on applied mathematics or classical mechanics. Bruce van Brunt is Senior Lecturer at Massey University, New Zealand. He is the author of The Lebesgue-Stieltjes Integral, with Michael Carter, and has been teaching the calculus of variations to undergraduate and graduate students for several years.