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The Lazy UniverseAn Introduction to the Principle of Least Action$
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Jennifer Coopersmith

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198743040

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198743040.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Introduction
Source:
The Lazy Universe
Author(s):

Jennifer Coopersmith

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198743040.003.0001

The chapter explains how the Principle of Least Action yields a unique answer to a physical problem irrespective of the frame of reference. The motivation arises from d’Alembert’s rousing words: “To someone who could grasp the Universe from a unified standpoint the entire creation would appear as a unique truth and necessity.” The requirement is that one “algorithm” can cope with all the specificity, variety, and complexity across the whole of physics. That one algorithm could ever be up to the task is made plausible by use of an allegory involving a King, the princess, and some suitors. Finally, the link with Least Action is made. Note that the terms extremal, objectivity, observer, and viewpoint are explained.

Keywords:   extremal, algorithm, objectivity, reference frame, observer, d’Alembert, necessity, unique truth, viewpoint, standpoint

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