Undergraduate Course: Variational Calculus (MATH11179)
Course Outline
School  School of Mathematics 
College  College of Science and Engineering 
Credit level (Normal year taken)  SCQF Level 11 (Year 5 Undergraduate) 
Availability  Available to all students 
SCQF Credits  10 
ECTS Credits  5 
Summary  NB. This course is delivered *biennially* with the next instance being in 201617. It is anticipated that it would then be delivered every other session thereafter.
This is a course on the calculus of variations and explores a number of variational principles, such as Hamilton's Principle of Least Action and Shannon's Principle of Maximum Entropy. The approach taken in this course lies at the interface of two disciplines: Geometry and Mathematical Physics. In Geometry you will learn about geodesics, minimal surfaces, etc. In Physics you will learn to elevate Newton's laws to a mathematical principle and discuss lagrangian and hamiltonian formulations. A running theme will be the relationship between symmetries and conservation laws, as illustrated by a celebrated theorem of Emmy Noether's. We will not assume, however, any background in either Physics or Geometry. All the necessary vocabulary and concepts will be introduced in the course.

Course description 
 Calculus of variations: EulerLagrange equations, general variations
 Newtonian mechanics and conservation laws
 Hamilton's principle of least action
 Noether's theorem
 Hamiltonian formalism
 Isoperimetric problems
 Holonomic and nonholonomic constraints
 Variational PDEs
 Noether's theorem revisited
 Classical field theory

Information for Visiting Students
Prerequisites  Visiting students are advised to check that they have studied the material covered in the syllabus of any prerequisite course listed above before enrolling. 
High Demand Course? 
Yes 
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered 
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
 derive the EulerLagrange equations for variational problems, including the case of general variations
 derive conserved quantities from symmetries, and use them to solve the EulerLagrange equations
 solve variational problems with constraints: both algebraic and isoperimetric
 calculate effectively using Poisson brackets

Reading List
Lecture notes will be provided, which contain ample bibliography with other sources. 
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 
Not entered 
Keywords  VarC 
Contacts
Course organiser  Prof José FigueroaO'Farrill
Tel: (0131 6)50 5066
Email: j.m.figueroa@ed.ac.uk 
Course secretary  Mr Martin Delaney
Tel: (0131 6)50 6427
Email: Martin.Delaney@ed.ac.uk 

