# Conserved quantity

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In mathematics, a conserved quantity of a dynamical system is a function of the dependent variables whose value remains constant along each trajectory of the system.[1]

Not all systems have conserved quantities, and conserved quantities are not unique, since one can always apply a function to a conserved quantity, such as adding a number.

Since many laws of physics express some kind of conservation, conserved quantities commonly exist in mathematical models of physical systems. For example, any classical mechanics model will have energy as a conserved quantity so long as the forces involved are conservative.

## Differential equations

For a first order system of differential equations

${\displaystyle {\frac {d\mathbf {r} }{dt}}=\mathbf {f} (\mathbf {r} ,t)}$

where bold indicates vector quantities, a scalar-valued function H(r) is a conserved quantity of the system if, for all time and initial conditions in some specific domain,

${\displaystyle {\frac {dH}{dt}}=0}$

Note that by using the multivariate chain rule,

${\displaystyle {\frac {dH}{dt}}=\nabla H\cdot {\frac {d\mathbf {r} }{dt}}=\nabla H\cdot \mathbf {f} (\mathbf {r} ,t)}$

so that the definition may be written as

${\displaystyle \nabla H\cdot \mathbf {f} (\mathbf {r} ,t)=0}$

which contains information specific to the system and can be helpful in finding conserved quantities, or establishing whether or not a conserved quantity exists.

## Hamiltonian mechanics

For a system defined by the Hamiltonian H, a function f of the generalized coordinates q and generalized momenta p has time evolution

${\displaystyle {\frac {\mathrm {d} f}{\mathrm {d} t}}=\{f,{\mathcal {H}}\}+{\frac {\partial f}{\partial t}}}$

and hence is conserved if and only if ${\displaystyle \{f,{\mathcal {H}}\}+{\frac {\partial f}{\partial t}}=0}$ . Here ${\displaystyle \{f,{\mathcal {H}}\}}$  denotes the Poisson Bracket.

## Lagrangian mechanics

Suppose a system is defined by the Lagrangian L with generalized coordinates q. If L has no explicit time dependence (so ${\displaystyle {\frac {\partial L}{\partial t}}=0}$ ), then the energy E defined by

${\displaystyle E=\sum _{i}\left[{\dot {q}}_{i}{\frac {\partial L}{\partial {\dot {q}}_{i}}}\right]-L}$

is conserved.

Furthermore, if ${\displaystyle {\frac {\partial L}{\partial q}}=0}$ , then q is said to be a cyclic coordinate and the generalized momentum p defined by

${\displaystyle p={\frac {\partial L}{\partial {\dot {q}}}}}$

is conserved. This may be derived by using the Euler–Lagrange equations.