Variational principles are important in the investigation of large classes of physical systems. They can be used both as analytical methods as well as starting points for the formulation of powerful computational techniques such as dynamical optimization methods. Systems with charged objects in dielectric media and systems with magnetically active particles are important examples. In these examples and other important cases, the variational principles describing the system are required to obey a number of constraints. These constraints are implemented within the variational formulation by means of Lagrange multipliers. Such constrained variational formulations are in general not unique. For the application of efficient simulation methods, one must find specific formulations that satisfy a number of important conditions. An often required condition is that the functional be positive-definite, in other words, its extrema be actual minima. In this article, we present a general approach to attack the problem of finding, among equivalent variational functionals, those that generate true minima. The method is based on the modification of the Lagrange multiplier which allows us to generate large families of effective variational formulations associated with a single original constrained variational principle. We demonstrate its application to different examples and, in particular, to the important cases of Poisson and Poisson-Boltzmann equations. We show how to obtain variational formulations for these systems with extrema that are always minima.
|Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
|Published - Nov 11 2013
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Statistics and Probability
- Condensed Matter Physics