the branch of mathematics that deals with the problem of finding a curve or surface that maximizes or minimizes a given expression, usually with several restrictions placed on the desired curve.
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British Dictionary definitions for calculus of variations
a branch of calculus concerned with maxima and minima of definite integrals
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Scientific definitions for calculus of variations
Mathematical analysis of the maxima and minima of definite integrals, the integrands of which are functions of independent variables, dependent variables, and the derivatives of one or more dependent variables. Compare differential calculus integral calculus.
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