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calculus of variations

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.
Origin of calculus of variations
1830-40 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for calculus-of-variations

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
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calculus-of-variations in Science
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.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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