# Variational inequality

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In mathematics, a **variational inequality** is an inequality involving a functional, which has to be solved for all possible values of a given variable, belonging usually to a convex set. The mathematical theory of variational inequalities was initially developed to deal with equilibrium problems, precisely the Signorini problem: in that model problem, the functional involved was obtained as the first variation of the involved potential energy. Therefore, it has a variational origin, recalled by the name of the general abstract problem. The applicability of the theory has since been expanded to include problems from economics, finance, optimization and game theory.