# Tagged Questions

Questions on the calculus of variations, which deals with the optimization of functionals mostly defined on an infinite dimensional spaces.

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### What's the largest possible volume of a taco, and how do I make one that big?

Let $f$ be a continuous, even function over some interval $I=[-a,a]$ such that the total arc length of $f$ over $I$ is at least $2$, $f(0)=0$, and $f$ is increasing on $(0,a)$. [You might imagine ...
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### Arc length contest! Minimize the arc length of $f(x)$ when given three conditions.

Contest: Give an example of a continuous function $f$ that satisfies three conditions: $f(x) \geq 0$ on the interval $0\leq x\leq 1$; $f(0)=0$ and $f(1)=0$; the area bounded by the graph of $f$ and ...
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### Can this ant find its way back to the nest?

So the puzzle is like this: An ant is out from its nest searching for food. It travels in a straight line from its nest. After this ant gets 40 ft away from the nest, suddenly a rain starts to ...
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### What's the minimum of $\int_0^1 f(x)^2 \: dx$, subject to $\int_0^1 f(x) \: dx = 0, \int_0^1 x f(x) \: dx = 1$?

The question is as in the title: what's the minimum of $\int_0^1 f(x)^2 \: dx$, subject to $\int_0^1 f(x) \: dx = 0, \int_0^1 x f(x) \: dx = 1$? (Assume suitable smoothness conditions.) A problem in ...
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### Conceptual difference between strong and weak formulations

What are the conceptual differences in presenting a problem in strong or weak form? For example for a 2D Poisson problem the strong form is: \begin{split}- \nabla^2 u(\pmb{x}) &= f(\pmb{x}),\...
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### Arnol'd's trivium problem #68

I came across this blog that says that its French version has answers to most of Arnol'd's trivium problems, and I figured I'd try my hand at some of the ones they don't have. Number 68 raised my ...
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### Why does a circle enclose the largest area?

In this wikipedia, article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle#Area_enclosed its stated that the circle is the closed curve which has the maximum area for a given arc length. First, of all, I would ...
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### Why is it useful to show the existence and uniqueness of solution for a PDE?

Don't get me wrong, I understand that it is important in mathematics to qualitatively study the problems given. But I would like to know to what extent this helps for example, to actually solve the ...
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### Gradient flow of a surface

I found the following definition in a book (S. Osher, R. Fedkiw, "Level Set Methods and Dynamic Implicit Surfaces", p. 140): [the context is reconstruction of surfaces from unorganized point sets] ...
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### Time-optimal control to the origin for two first order ODES - Trying to take control as we speak!

I want to find the time optimal control to the origin of the system: $$\dot{x}_1 = 3x_1+ x_2$$ $$\dot{x}_2 = 4x_1 + 3x_2 + u$$ where $|u|\leq 1$ I ran straight into the problem full strength, hit it ...
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### How can $y$ and $y'$ be independent in variational calculus?

In variational calculus, functionals are written as \begin{eqnarray} F = \int f(x,y,y') dx \end{eqnarray} Where $F$ depends upon choice of $y,y'$. But for smooth regular functions specifying the $y$ ...
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### Fastest curve from $p_0$ to $p_1$

I'm trying to solve a problem in path planning: Given points $p_0$ and $p_1$ and vectors $v_0$ and $v_1$, find a function $p(t)$ st. $p(0) = p_0$, $p(T) = p_1$, $p'(0) = v_0$ and $p'(T) = v_1$...
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### Hilbert's 19th problem: Why do we care?

Hilbert's 19th problem asks: Are the solutions of regular problems in the calculus of variations always necessarily analytic? This was proven to be true (through the work of Sergei Bernstein, ...
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### Introductory text for calculus of variations

I am currently working on problems that require familiarity with calculus of variations. I am fairly new to this field. Please suggest a good introductory book for the same that could help me pick up ...
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### existence of a minimizer for functional

My problem is the following: Show that the mapping $u \rightarrow ||\nabla u||^2 + (fu,u)$ has a minimum $u$ in $M:=\{ w \in H^1(\Omega): ||w||=1\}$ . The function $f$ is in $L^\infty$. I dont see ...
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### Symmetry of Solution to Classical 3-Dimensional Isoperimetric Problem

A while ago I attempted to solve the classical isoperimetric problem in 3-dimensions, namely "Find the surface that has the smallest surface area for a given volume". At that time for me to write ...
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### Calculus of variations: Lagrange multipliers

Given a functional $$J(y)=\int_a^b F(x,y,y')dx, \tag{1}$$ where $y$ is a function of $x$, and a constraint $$\int_a^b K(x,y,y')dx=l, \tag{2}$$ if $y=y(x)$ is an extreme of (1) under the ...
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### Lagrange multipliers in Calculus of Variations

I am trying to learn about Calculus of Variations and I am beginning to see some constrained optimization problems in the domain of functionals, by using Lagrange multipliers. It seems that things ...
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### Beach Path math question

Anyone who has walked on the beach knows that walking speed is dependent upon how far away from the ocean one walks. If you walk on the wet sand you can walk much more quickly than if you walked on ...
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### Treacherous Euler-Lagrange equation

If I have an Euler-Lagrange equation: $(y')^2 = 2 (1-\cos(y))$ where $y$ is a function of $x$ subjected to boundary conditions $y(x) \to 0$ as $x \to -\infty$ and $y(x) \to 2\pi$ as $x \to +\infty$...
### Prove that $\int_0^1[f''(x)]^2dx\ge4.$
Let $f$ be a $C^2$ function on $[0,1]$ such that $f(0)=f(1)=f'(0)=0,f'(1)=1.$ Prove that $\int_0^1[f''(x)]^2dx\ge4.$ Find all $f$ for equality to occur.
### How to solve $\max_{f}\int_{0}^{\infty}f\left(x\right)dx$ subject to $\int_{0}^{\infty}xf\left(x\right)dx=x_{0}$?
How to find $\max_{f}\int_{0}^{\infty}f\left(x\right)dx$ subject to $\int_{0}^{\infty}xf\left(x\right)dx=x_{0}$, where $f$ is a function and $x_{0}$ is a constant?