The Brachistochrone Problem
As Archimedes stated, “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” (Archimedes Quotes) The Brachistochrone problem is based on the paradox of this assertion.
Consider two points P and Q where point P is situated at some distance at a higher level from point Q. So, when a ball moves from P to Q, under the influence of gravity and no other force, the straight line that joins P and Q must be the fastest way to reach Q from P. Surprisingly, this appears to be false because the fastest path from P to Q is given by a cycloid curve.
Figure 1.
“A cycloid is the locus of a point on a rim of a circle (with a certain radius) rolling along a straight line.” (Wolfram Math World) Figure 2.
Despite knowing…show more content… L (x,y,y^')= √((1+(y^' )^2)/2gy) (12)
So, finding the optimum value of T using the Euler-Lagrange equation is the problem under calculus of variations.
Let suppose M is defined by an integral in the form:
M=∫_x1^x2▒L(x,y,y^' )dx (13)
Here, M is called the functional and has a constant extreme value if the Euler-Lagrange equation is satisfied.
The Euler-Lagrange equation is:
∂L/∂y-d/dx (∂L/(∂y^' ))=0 (14)
*Note: The derivation of the Euler-Lagrange equation will not be a part of this exploration.
So, to solve Euler-Lagrange equation, we might substitute the value of L from (12) to equation (14). Having said that, since L (x,y,y^')= √((1+(y^' )^2)/2gy) does not contain “x” explicitly and L is the function of y and y^'only, equation (14) cannot be