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suppose there is any arbitrary function of variables q, q' and t,

$L = L(q, q', t)$ where $q' = \frac{dq}{dt}$

can we always find a function $Z(q, t)$, such that,

$L = \frac{dZ}{dt}$


$L, q, t \in$ {$ C^{\infty}$}

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I assume you mean the total differential, and you want a $Z$ that depends on the form of $L$ but not the form of $q$ (i.e. $q$ is merely treated as an argument). In which case the chain rule gives $$L=\frac{dZ}{dt}=\frac{\partial Z}{\partial q}q'+\frac{\partial Z}{\partial t}.$$ So a necessary condition is that $L$ is linear in $q'$ (formally). Furthermore, if we write $L=uq'+v$, it is necessary that $(u,v)$ have a potential function (namely $Z$), so (and this is locally sufficient), $$\frac{\partial u}{\partial t}=\frac{\partial v}{\partial q}.$$

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was very helpful! – user5198 Oct 3 '11 at 6:31

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