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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.
a branch of calculus concerned with maxima and minima of definite integrals
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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