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Unit information: Calculus of Variations in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Calculus of Variations
Unit code MATHM0015
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2D (weeks 19 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Slastikov
Open unit status Not open

Calculus 2, ODE2



School/department School of Mathematics
Faculty Faculty of Science


Unit aims

To introduce students to calculus of variations and use it to solve basic problems arising in physics, mathematics and materials science.

General Description of the Unit

Calculus of Variations is an important branch of optimization that deals with finding extrema of the functionals in certain functional spaces. It has deep relation with various fields in natural sciences, including differential geometry, ordinary and partial differential equations, materials science, mathematical biology, etc. It is one of the oldest and yet one of the most used tools for investigation of the problems involving free energy. The aim of this course is to present the basics of the calculus of variations, including 1D theory and its application to various problems arising in natural sciences.

Further unit details are available at:

Intended learning outcomes

After taking this unit, students will:

  1. Understand the basics of the calculus of variations
  2. Will be able to analyze and solve various variational problems arising in physics.

Teaching details

15 lectures with 4 homeworks

Assessment Details

100% Examination.

Raw scores on the examinations will be determined according to the marking scheme written on the examination paper. The marking scheme, indicating the maximum score per question, is a guide to the relative weighting of the questions. Raw scores are moderated as described in the Undergraduate Handbook.

Reading and References

I M Gelfand and S V Fomin, Calculus of Variations, Prentice-Hall Bruce van Brunt, The Calculus of Variations, Dover