Tag Archives: symmetry

Noether’s Theorem

Nature is thrifty in all its actions.

    — Pierre Louis Maupertuis

From Wikipedia:

Noether’s (first) theorem states that any differentiable symmetry of the action of a physical system has a corresponding conservation law. The theorem was proved by German mathematician Emmy Noether in 1915 and published in 1918. The action of a physical system is the integral over time of a Lagrangian function (which may or may not be an integral over space of a Lagrangian density function), from which the system’s behavior can be determined by the principle of least action.

Noether’s theorem can be stated informally:

If a system has a continuous symmetry property, then there are corresponding quantities whose values are conserved in time.


Symmetries are transformations or exchanges in space or time that leave systems structurally or functionally equivalent to what they were before. The equivalence may or may not be an identity, but only the same in appearance or behavior.

Conservation laws are equivalences for quantitative properties of systems. A given property of matter or energy is quantitatively the same before and after, or continuously through space or time. The functional measure of this property remains constant.

So consider an analogy between Noether’s Theorem and the concept of Equivalent Exchange: for (symmetrical, differentiable) exchanges, there are properties that are equivalent (conserved)!