Variational methods attempt to answer the question: Given an equation and some presumably good “guesses” about the form of the solution, how should one proceed in order to combine these “guesses” into a satisfactory approximate solution? This book develops a least-squares variational technique that can be applied to general problems, including those for which current methodology often leads to difficulty, such as nonlinear, constrained, and non-self-adjoint problems. Although other publications have treated variational models, this volume reviews the various methods, and considers them from the point of view of the scientist who would want to apply these techniques rather than in a purely theoretical way. Methods are compared and useful physical interpretations and applications are considered by the author. Several examples and applications, primarily drawn from the field of nuclear engineering, are discussed.
Apart from the applied mathematician, this book will be of considerable value to the engineer and a scientist who must deal with solutions of problems when exact solutions are not known. The techniques employed are also well adapted for use on a digital computer.