Maxwell’s equations with magnetic charge and current densities, from Lagrangian.

This is the 4th part in a series on finding Maxwell’s equations (including the fictitious magnetic sources that are useful in engineering) from a Lagrangian representation.

[Click here for a PDF version of this series of posts, up to and including this one.]  The first and second, and third parts are also available here on this blog.

Now, let’s suppose that we have a pseudoscalar Lagrangian density of the following form
\label{eqn:fsquared:840}
\begin{aligned}
\LL &= F \wedge F + b I A \cdot M \\
&= \inv{4} I \epsilon^{\mu\nu\alpha\beta} F_{\mu\nu} F_{\alpha\beta} + b I A_\mu M^\mu.
\end{aligned}

Let’s fix $$b$$ by evaluating this with the Euler-Lagrange equations

\label{eqn:fsquared:880}
\begin{aligned}
b I M^\alpha
&=
\partial_\alpha \lr{
\inv{2} I \epsilon^{\mu\nu\sigma\pi} F_{\mu\nu} \PD{(\partial_\beta A_\alpha)}{F_{\sigma\pi}}
} \\
&=
\inv{2} I \epsilon^{\mu\nu\sigma\pi}
\partial_\alpha \lr{
F_{\mu\nu} \PD{(\partial_\beta A_\alpha)}{}\lr{\partial_\sigma A_\pi – \partial_\pi A_\sigma}
} \\
&=
\inv{2} I
\partial_\alpha \lr{
\epsilon^{\mu\nu\beta\alpha}
F_{\mu\nu}

\epsilon^{\mu\nu\alpha\beta}
F_{\mu\nu}
} \\
&=
I
\partial_\alpha
\epsilon^{\mu\nu\beta\alpha}
F_{\mu\nu}
\end{aligned}

Remember that we want $$\partial_\nu \lr{ \inv{2} \epsilon^{\mu\nu\alpha\beta} F_{\alpha\beta} } = M^\mu$$, so after swapping indexes we see that $$b = 2$$.

We would find the same thing if we vary the Lagrangian directly with respect to variations $$\delta A_\mu$$. However, let’s try that variation with respect to a four-vector field variable $$\delta A$$ instead. Our multivector Lagrangian is
\label{eqn:fsquared:900}
\begin{aligned}
\LL
&= F \wedge F + 2 I M \cdot A \\
&=
\lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \partial_\mu A } \wedge \lr{ \gamma^\nu \wedge \partial_\nu A } + 2 (I M) \wedge A.
\end{aligned}

We’ve used a duality transformation on the current term that will come in handy shortly. The Lagrangian variation is
\label{eqn:fsquared:920}
\begin{aligned}
\delta \LL
&=
2 \lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \partial_\mu A } \wedge \lr{ \gamma^\nu \wedge \delta \partial_\nu A } + 2 (I M) \wedge \delta A \\
&=
2 \partial_\nu \lr{ \lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \partial_\mu A } \wedge \lr{ \gamma^\nu \wedge \delta A } }

2 \lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \partial_\nu \partial_\mu A } \wedge \lr{ \gamma^\nu \wedge \delta A }
+ 2 (I M) \wedge \delta A \\
&=
2 \lr{ – \lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \partial_\nu \partial_\mu A } \wedge \gamma^\nu + I M } \wedge \delta A \\
&=
2 \lr{ – \grad \wedge (\partial_\nu A ) \wedge \gamma^\nu + I M } \wedge \delta A.
\end{aligned}

We’ve dropped the complete derivative term, as the $$\delta A$$ is zero on the boundary. For the action variation to be zero, we require
\label{eqn:fsquared:940}
\begin{aligned}
0
&= – \grad \wedge (\partial_\nu A ) \wedge \gamma^\nu + I M \\
&= \grad \wedge \gamma^\nu \wedge (\partial_\nu A ) + I M \\
&= \grad \wedge \lr{ \grad \wedge A } + I M \\
&= \grad \wedge F + I M,
\end{aligned}

or
\label{eqn:fsquared:960}
\grad \wedge F = -I M.

Here we’ve had to dodge a sneaky detail, namely that $$\grad \wedge \lr{ \grad \wedge A } = 0$$, provided $$A$$ has sufficient continuity that we can assert mixed partials. We will see a way to resolve this contradiction when we vary a Lagrangian density that includes both electric and magnetic field contributions. That’s a game for a different day.

Maxwell’s equations, from Lagrangian, for electric sources.

This is the 3rd part in a series on finding Maxwell’s equations (including the fictitious magnetic sources that are useful in engineering) from a Lagrangian representation.

[Click here for a PDF version of this series of posts, up to and including this one.]  The first and second parts are also available here on this blog.

<h2>Continuing…</h2>

Given the Lagrangian density

\label{eqn:fsquared:500}
\LL = F \cdot F + a \lr{ A \cdot J },

we may derive Maxwell’s equations from it, fixing the constant $$a$$ by doing so. We can do this three different ways, with direct variation with respect to the field components $$A_\mu$$, using the Euler-Lagrange equations, or with direct variation with respect to $$A = \gamma^\mu A_\mu$$, as a single four-vector field variable.

Let’s try this first with direct variation using the coordinate expansion of $$A$$. The action is
\label{eqn:fsquared:520}
S = \int d^4 x \lr{ -\inv{2} F_{\mu\nu} F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\mu A_\mu }.

The variational principle requires the action variation to be zero for all $$\delta A_\mu$$, where $$\delta A_\mu = 0$$ on the boundaries of the space. That is
\label{eqn:fsquared:540}
\begin{aligned}
0 &= \delta S \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ -\inv{2} \lr{ \delta F_{\mu\nu} } F^{\mu\nu} -\inv{2} F_{\mu\nu} \delta F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\mu \delta A_\mu } \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ – \lr{ \delta F_{\mu\nu} } F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\mu \delta A_\mu } \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ – \lr{ \delta \lr{ \partial_\mu A_\nu – \partial_\nu A_\mu } } F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\mu \delta A_\mu } \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ – \lr{ \partial_\mu \delta A_\nu – \partial_\nu \delta A_\mu } F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\mu \delta A_\mu } \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ – \lr{ \lr{ \partial_\mu \delta A_\nu } F^{\mu\nu} – \lr{ \partial_\mu \delta A_\nu } F^{\nu\mu} } + a J^\mu \delta A_\mu } \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ – 2 \lr{ \partial_\mu \delta A_\nu } F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\mu \delta A_\mu } \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ – 2 \partial_\mu \lr{ \delta A_\nu F^{\mu\nu} } + 2 \delta A_\nu \partial_\mu F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\mu \delta A_\mu } \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ 2 \delta A_\nu \partial_\mu F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\nu \delta A_\nu } \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ 2 \partial_\mu F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\nu } \delta A_\nu.
\end{aligned}

We have all the usual types of index gymnastics above, and dropped the complete derivative term since $$\delta A_\nu$$ is zero on the boundary by definition. Since the end result must be zero for all variations, we must have
\label{eqn:fsquared:560}
0 = 2 \partial_\mu F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\nu.

We also determine our constant $$a = -2$$.

Now, let’s do the same calculation using the Euler-Lagrange equations. We derive those by varying a general Lagrangian density, just as above
\label{eqn:fsquared:580}
\begin{aligned}
0
&=
\delta S \\
&= \int d^4 x \delta \LL(A_\mu, \partial_\nu A_\mu) \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ \PD{A_\mu}{\LL} \delta A_\mu + \PD{(\partial_\nu A_\mu)}{\LL} \delta \partial_\nu A_\mu } \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ \PD{A_\mu}{\LL} \delta A_\mu + \PD{(\partial_\nu A_\mu)}{\LL} \partial_\nu \delta A_\mu } \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ \PD{A_\mu}{\LL} \delta A_\mu
+ \partial_\nu \lr{ \PD{(\partial_\nu A_\mu)}{\LL} \delta A_\mu }
– \lr{ \partial_\nu \PD{(\partial_\nu A_\mu)}{\LL} } \delta A_\mu
} \\
&= \int d^4 x \lr{ \PD{A_\mu}{\LL} – \lr{ \partial_\nu \PD{(\partial_\nu A_\mu)}{\LL} } } \delta A_\mu.
\end{aligned}

Since this is zero for all variations $$\delta A_\mu$$, we find the field Euler-Lagrange equations are
\label{eqn:fsquared:600}
\PD{A_\mu}{\LL} = \partial_\nu \PD{(\partial_\nu A_\mu)}{\LL} .

We should be able to re-derive Maxwell’s equations from the Lagrangian using these field Euler-Lagrange equations, with a bit less work, since we’ve pre-calculated some of the variation. Let’s try that. Since we now know the value of the constant $$a$$, our Lagrangian is
\label{eqn:fsquared:620}
\LL = -\inv{2} F_{\mu\nu} F^{\mu\nu} – 2 J^\mu A_\mu.

On the LHS we have
\label{eqn:fsquared:640}
\begin{aligned}
\PD{A_\mu}{\LL}
&=
\PD{A_\mu}{} \lr{ – 2 J^\nu A_\nu } \\
&=
– 2 J^\mu.
\end{aligned}

For the RHS, let’s first calculate
\label{eqn:fsquared:660}
\begin{aligned}
\PD{(\partial_\nu A_\mu)}{\LL}
&=
\PD{(\partial_\nu A_\mu)}{}
\lr{
-\inv{2} F_{\alpha\beta} F^{\alpha\beta}
} \\
&=

\lr{
\PD{(\partial_\nu A_\mu)}{}
F_{\alpha\beta}
}
F^{\alpha\beta}
\\
&=

\lr{
\PD{(\partial_\nu A_\mu)}{}
\lr{
\partial_\alpha A_\beta – \partial_\beta A_\alpha
}
}
F^{\alpha\beta}
\\
&=
– F^{\nu\mu}
+ F^{\mu\nu} \\
&=
– 2 F^{\nu\mu}
.
\end{aligned}

We are left with
\label{eqn:fsquared:680}
-2 \partial_\nu F^{\nu\mu} = -2 J^\mu.

This is the source portion of Maxwell’s equation (after canceling $$-2’s$$), as expected.

Now let’s perform a (mostly) coordinate free evaluation of the variation. We should be able to vary $$A$$ directly without first expanding it in coordinates.

We write the field as a curl
\label{eqn:fsquared:700}

For completeness sake, before continuing, since we’ve not already done so, we should verify that this is equivalent to the tensor expansion of $$F$$ that we have been using. We find that by expanding the gradient and the field in coordinates
\label{eqn:fsquared:720}
\begin{aligned}
F
&= \lr{ \gamma^\mu \partial_\mu } \wedge \lr{ \gamma^\nu A_\nu } \\
&= \lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \gamma^\nu } \partial_\mu A_\nu \\
&= \inv{2} \lr{
\lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \gamma^\nu } \partial_\mu A_\nu
+
\lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \gamma^\nu } \partial_\mu A_\nu
} \\
&= \inv{2} \lr{
\lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \gamma^\nu } \partial_\mu A_\nu
+
\lr{ \gamma^\nu \wedge \gamma^\mu } \partial_\nu A_\mu
} \\
&= \inv{2} \
\lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \gamma^\nu }
\lr{
\partial_\mu A_\nu – \partial_\nu A_\mu
} \\
&= \inv{2} \
\lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \gamma^\nu } F_{\mu\nu},
\end{aligned}

as claimed.

We want to expand the gradient portion of $$\grad \wedge A$$, but leave the field as is. That is
\label{eqn:fsquared:740}
\grad \wedge A = \gamma^\mu \wedge \partial_\mu A.

The scalar part of $$F^2$$ is therefore
\label{eqn:fsquared:760}
\begin{aligned}
F \cdot F
&=
\lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \partial_\mu A } \cdot \lr{ \gamma^\nu \wedge \partial_\nu A } \\
&=
\gamma^\mu \cdot \lr{ \partial_\mu A \cdot \lr{ \gamma^\nu \wedge \partial_\nu A } } \\
&=
\lr{ \gamma^\nu \cdot \partial_\mu A } \lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \partial_\nu A }

\lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \gamma^\nu } \lr{ (\partial_\mu A) \cdot (\partial_\nu A) }.
\end{aligned}

Our Lagrangian is now fully specified in terms of $$A$$ and it’s derivatives.
\label{eqn:fsquared:780}
\LL =
\lr{ \gamma^\nu \cdot \partial_\mu A } \lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \partial_\nu A }

\lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \gamma^\nu } \lr{ (\partial_\mu A) \cdot (\partial_\nu A) }
– 2 J \cdot A.

Observe the symmetry, with respect to index swap, in the first two terms. This means that the variation is just
\label{eqn:fsquared:800}
\begin{aligned}
\delta \LL
&=
2 \lr{ \gamma^\nu \cdot \partial_\mu A } \lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \delta \partial_\nu A }

2 \lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \gamma^\nu } \lr{ (\partial_\mu A) \cdot (\delta \partial_\nu A) }
– 2 J \cdot \delta A
\\
&=
2 \lr{ \gamma^\nu \cdot \partial_\mu A } \lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \partial_\nu \delta A }

2 \lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \gamma^\nu } \lr{ (\partial_\mu A) \cdot (\partial_\nu \delta A) }
– 2 J \cdot \delta A
\\
&=
2 \partial_\nu \lr{ \lr{ \gamma^\nu \cdot \partial_\mu A } \lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \delta A } }
– 2 \partial_\nu \lr{ \lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \gamma^\nu } \lr{ (\partial_\mu A) \cdot \delta A } } \\
-2 \lr{ \partial_\nu \gamma^\nu \cdot \partial_\mu A } \lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \delta A }
+ 2 \lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \partial_\nu \gamma^\nu } \lr{ (\partial_\mu A) \cdot \delta A }
– 2 J \cdot \delta A \\
&=
2 (\delta A) \cdot \lr{
– \lr{ \grad \cdot \partial_\mu A } \gamma^\mu
+ \lr{ \gamma^\mu \cdot \grad } \partial_\mu A
– J
} \\
&=
2 (\delta A) \cdot \lr{
\grad \cdot \lr{ \gamma^\mu \wedge \partial_\mu A } – J
} \\
&=
2 (\delta A) \cdot \lr{