A Multivector Derivative Approach to Lagrangian Field Theory

A new calculus, based upon the multivector derivative, is developed for Lagrangian mechanics and field theory, providing streamlined and rigorous derivations of the Euler-Lagrange equations. A more general form of Noether’s theorem is found which is appropriate to both discrete and continuous symmetries. This is used to find the conjugate currents of the Dirac theory, where it improves on techniques previously used for analyses of local observables. General formulae for the canonical stress-energy and angular-momentum tensors are derived, with spinors and vectors treated in a unified way. It is demonstrated that the antisymmetric terms in the stress-energy tensor are crucial to the correct treatment of angular momentum. The multivector derivative is extended to provide a functional calculus for linear functions which is more compact and more powerful than previous formalisms. This is demonstrated in a reformulation of the functional derivative with respect to the metric, which is then used to recover the full canonical stress-energy tensor. Unlike conventional formalisms, which result in a symmetric stress-energy tensor, our reformulation retains the potentially important antisymmetric contribution.

A. N. Lasenby, C. J. L. Doran and S. F. Gull, A Multivector Derivative Approach to Lagrangian Field Theory, Found. Phys. 23(10), 1295-1327 (1993)