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

\begin{equation}\label{eqn:fsquared:500}
\LL = F \cdot F + a \lr{ A \cdot J },
\end{equation}
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
\begin{equation}\label{eqn:fsquared:520}
S = \int d^4 x \lr{ -\inv{2} F_{\mu\nu} F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\mu A_\mu }.
\end{equation}
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
\begin{equation}\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}
\end{equation}
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
\begin{equation}\label{eqn:fsquared:560}
0 = 2 \partial_\mu F^{\mu\nu} + a J^\nu.
\end{equation}
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
\begin{equation}\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}
\end{equation}
Since this is zero for all variations $$\delta A_\mu$$, we find the field Euler-Lagrange equations are
\begin{equation}\label{eqn:fsquared:600}
\PD{A_\mu}{\LL} = \partial_\nu \PD{(\partial_\nu A_\mu)}{\LL} .
\end{equation}

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
\begin{equation}\label{eqn:fsquared:620}
\LL = -\inv{2} F_{\mu\nu} F^{\mu\nu} – 2 J^\mu A_\mu.
\end{equation}

On the LHS we have
\begin{equation}\label{eqn:fsquared:640}
\begin{aligned}
\PD{A_\mu}{\LL}
&=
\PD{A_\mu}{} \lr{ – 2 J^\nu A_\nu } \\
&=
– 2 J^\mu.
\end{aligned}
\end{equation}
For the RHS, let’s first calculate
\begin{equation}\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}
\end{equation}
We are left with
\begin{equation}\label{eqn:fsquared:680}
-2 \partial_\nu F^{\nu\mu} = -2 J^\mu.
\end{equation}
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
\begin{equation}\label{eqn:fsquared:700}
\end{equation}
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
\begin{equation}\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}
\end{equation}
as claimed.

We want to expand the gradient portion of $$\grad \wedge A$$, but leave the field as is. That is
\begin{equation}\label{eqn:fsquared:740}
\grad \wedge A = \gamma^\mu \wedge \partial_\mu A.
\end{equation}
The scalar part of $$F^2$$ is therefore
\begin{equation}\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}
\end{equation}
Our Lagrangian is now fully specified in terms of $$A$$ and it’s derivatives.
\begin{equation}\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.
\end{equation}
Observe the symmetry, with respect to index swap, in the first two terms. This means that the variation is just
\begin{equation}\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{