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Lagrangian vs Hamiltonian: The best approach to relativistic orbits

Price, Richard H. and Thorne, Kip S. (2018) Lagrangian vs Hamiltonian: The best approach to relativistic orbits. American Journal of Physics, 86 (9). pp. 678-682. ISSN 0002-9505.

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In introductory general relativity courses, free particle trajectories, such as astronomical orbits, are generally developed via a Lagrangian and variational calculus, so that physical examples can precede the mathematics of tensor calculus. The use of a Hamiltonian is viewed as more advanced and typically comes later if at all. We suggest here that this might not be the optimal order in a first course in general relativity, especially if orbits are to be solved with numerical methods. We discuss some of the issues that arise in both the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian approaches.

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Additional Information:© 2018 American Association of Physics Teachers. Received 28 July 2017; accepted 6 July 2018.
Group:Astronomy Department
Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180823-131125022
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Official Citation:Lagrangian vs Hamiltonian: The best approach to relativistic orbits. Richard H. Price, Kip S. Thorne. American Journal of Physics 2018 86:9, 678-682
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:89088
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:23 Aug 2018 20:26
Last Modified:20 Apr 2020 08:47

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