Noether's theorem

Statement relating differentiable symmetries to conserved quantities / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Noether's theorem or Noether's first theorem states that every differentiable symmetry of the action of a physical system with conservative forces has a corresponding conservation law.[1] The theorem was proven by mathematician Emmy Noether in 1915 and published in 1918.[2] The action of a physical system is the integral over time of a Lagrangian function, from which the system's behavior can be determined by the principle of least action. This theorem only applies to continuous and smooth symmetries over physical space.

First page of Emmy Noether's article "Invariante Variationsprobleme" (1918), where she proved her theorem.

Noether's theorem is used in theoretical physics and the calculus of variations. It reveals the fundamental relation between the symmetries of a physical system and the conservation laws. It also made modern theoretical physicists much more focused on symmetries of physical systems. A generalization of the formulations on constants of motion in Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics (developed in 1788 and 1833, respectively), it does not apply to systems that cannot be modeled with a Lagrangian alone (e.g., systems with a Rayleigh dissipation function). In particular, dissipative systems with continuous symmetries need not have a corresponding conservation law [citation needed].