Integration of the Classical Action for the Quartic Oscillator in 1 + 1 Dimensions


In this paper, we derive an explicit form in terms of end-point data in space-time for the classical action, i.e. integration of the Lagrangian along an extremal, for the nonlinear quartic oscillator evaluated on extremals.


Action; Integral

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Anderson, R. (2013) Integration of the Classical Action for the Quartic Oscillator in 1 + 1 Dimensions. Applied Mathematics, 4, 117-122. doi: 10.4236/am.2013.410A3014.

1. Introduction

The action


where equals the Lagrangian for the quartic oscillator in 1 + 1 dimensions, is integrated along an extremal and expressed in terms of the spacetime end-point data.

We begin in a well-known way by adding and subtracting the kinetic energy to the Lagrangian. Thus we obtain from (1.1), after changing the variable of integration in the remaining integral, the following equivalent expression.


where is the energy on the extremal (See e.g. Goldstein [1]). Equation (1.2) is the form of the action that we will start from and then derive by integrating the first term in (1.2), which we call the momentum integral, thus the desired expression for is obtained. (Some authors call this momentum integral the action.) For our convenience, we refer to the second term in (1.2) as the energy term. The derived action depends only on the end-point data in space-time.

In Part 2 Alternative derivation of the Quartic Oscillator Solution, we present an approach in which we arrive at the linearization map in [2]. This maps the solutions to Newton’s equations of motion for the quartic oscillator 1 − 1 onto those of the harmonic oscillator in a way which lends itself to integrating the momentum integral in (1.2). It involves a parametization of time t in terms of an angular coordinate (a cyclic coordinate which takes advantage of the periodic motion of the quartic oscillator and is intrinsic to the harmonic oscillator ho). This results in the time being given by a quadrature involving a known function of, as in [2]. As stated in [2] R. C. Santos, J. Santos and J. A. S. Lima [3], first demonstrated the possibility of linearization of the quartic oscillator to the harmonic oscillator.

In Part 3 Integration of the momentum integral, the results in Part 2 lead to an integration of (1.2). This is a new result and an extension of the results in [3].

In Part 4 Derivation of, using the results in Part 2 and Part 3, we derive a classical action evaluated on an extremal in terms of space-time endpoint data and show that Hamilton’s equations are satisfied.

In Part 5 Equivalent Actions, we present two equivalent actions as variations on the result in Part 4. By equivalent we mean they are equal in value on extremals and they produce the same Hamilton’s equations.

In Part 6 Conclusion, we indicate briefly how the approach in Parts 3 and 4 can be directly extended to all members of a hierarchy with potential energies

2. Alternative Derivation of the Quartic Oscillator Solution

To begin with, we must establish the sign conventions implied by (1.2) for the quartic oscillator



Taking advantage of the periodicity of any extremal for the quartic oscillator qo, we execute a change of variable to the angular variable by setting




and E = energy on the extremal. We have opted not to change the symbol for a function when it depends on a variable through a nested function in order to avoid unnecessarily heavy notation. Making the signs explicit, (2.1)-(2.2) yield




Note, for future use (2.3) implies


Now, we are in position to present an alternative derivation of the solution to Newton’s equations of motion (2.7) below for the quartic oscillator. It involves a parametization of time in terms of the angular coordinate. As we shall see, this results in the time being given by a quadrature involving a known function of. Now differentiating (2.4) yields


Or from Newton’s equation of motion for the quartic oscillator


we obtain


Thus, it follows from (2.3) that we obtain the equation that yields involving


Or, it s integrated form which yields (in quadrature) involving a known function of


The inverse of (2.9a) is given by


and it’s integrated form is given by


where the integration is along an extremal.

The equivalence to the linearization map given in [2] is specified by setting, where constant of the harmonic oscillator and equals the time of the corresponding to of the.

Then (2.9b) and (2.10b) are equivalent to one half of the linearization map in [2]. The other half of the linearization map is given by


Equation (2.2) plus equation (2.4) imply


where is given by (2.10b).

Finally, in this paragraph, given the end-point data how does one determine all other quantities.

One is given and on an extremal. The linearization map yields and on the corresponding extremal as well as. This implies from (2.12) the time differences

and, where refers to times, are known. Now we can set.

From [4], as a result of mapping extremals for the onto extremals to the, we have from [4],




Now (2.13) and (2.14) imply e.g.

where and yields.

Everything else follows from the development in Part 3.

3. Integration of

The problem of integrating (1.2) is the problem of integrating (2.1). Therefore, using (2.2) , (2.4) ,and (2.5), we obtain


Effecting the integration by parts, where and yields


Finally, from (2.9b), we have


where is given by (2.10b).

4. Determination of a

The developments in Part 2 and Part 3 lead directly to the following determination of.

It follows from (3.3) that (1.2) is given by


Therefore, using (2.10b), we obtain


This is expressed in the endpoint variables as required. This implies


After using (2.11) this checks with times (2.4) for and obviously checks.

The -differentiations parallel the -differentiations and yield


5. Equivalent Actions

Here, we present two examples of equivalent actions as variations on this result. By equivalent we mean they are equal in value on extremals and they both produce the same Hamilton equations.

First Variation:

This variation follows from the indentities


which implies that (4.2) transforms to the expression


Second Variation:

Equation (5.2) is equivalent to


Comment: The signs and the limits of integration have to be carefully watched in these calculations.

The identity


follows from

Similarly for the endpoint, thus we obtain the result reported in [4].

The results given in [4] were obtained before the integration result reported here in Part IV was obtained.

6. Conclusions

One can parallel the development in Parts 3 and 4 for an hierarchy with potential energies


Starting with setting


one can parallel Part 3.

Then integration by parts in these cases is effected by


This then parallels the development in Part 4.

The linearization map for these cases is given in [2].

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] H. Goldstein, “Classical Mechanics,” Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Reading, 1980.
[2] R. L. Anderson, “An Invertible Linearization Map for the Quartic Oscillator,” Journal of Mathematical Physics, Vol. 51, No. 12, 2010, Article ID: 122904.
[3] R. C. Santos, J. Santos and J. A. S. Lima, “HamiltonJacobi Approach for Power-Law Potentials,” Brazilian Journal of Physics, Vol. 36, No. 4A, 2006, pp. 12571261.
[4] R. L. Anderson, “Actions for a Hierarchy of Attractive Nonlinear Oscillators Including the Quartic Oscillator in 1 + 1 Dimensions,”

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