A graduate of the Ecole Normale Superieure, Jean-Louis Basdevant is Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics at the Ecole Polytechnique, and Director of Research for the CNRS. Specializing in the theoretical physics of elementary particles, quantum field theory and astrophysics, Prof. Basdevant works in the Leprince-Ringuet Laboratory at the Ecole Polytechnique.
Variational principles have proven to be surprisingly fertile. For example, Fermat used variational methods to demonstrate that light follows the fastest route from one point to another, an idea which came to be a cornerstone of geometrical optics. This book explains variational principles and charts their use throughout modern physics. It examines the analytical mechanics of Lagrange and Hamilton, the basic tools of any physicist. The book also offers simple but rich first impressions of Einstein's General Relativity, Feynman's Quantum Mechanics, and more that reveal amazing interconnections between various fields of physics.