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The curve along which a smooth-sliding particle, under the influence of gravity alone, will fall from one point to another in the minimum time.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the curve of most rapid descent—that is, the one of all possible curves connecting two given points A and B of a potential force field that a mass point moving along the curve with an initial velocity equal to zero and acted upon only by the forces of the field will traverse from position A to position B in the shortest time. When the movement occurs in a homogeneous gravitational field, the brachistochrone is a cycloid with a horizontal base and a point of return that coincides with point A. The solution of the brachistochrone problem (Johann Bernoulli, 1696) served as the starting point for the development of the calculus of variations. The error of Galileo, who tried to prove that the brachistochrone is a circumferential arc, is instructive. (See G. Galilei, Izbrannye trudy, vol. 2, Moscow, 1964, pp. 298-301, note 465.)

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The historic Brachistochrone problem is widely discussed in the literature.
The brachistochrone problem consists in determining the curve of minimum time when a particle starting at a point A = ([x.sub.0], [y.sub.0]) of a vertical plane goes to a point B = ([x.sub.1], [y.sub.1]) in the same plane under the action of the gravity force and with no initial velocity.
[T.sub.b]: the brachistochrone for the problem with ([x.sub.0], [x.sub.1]) = (0, 10), ([y.sub.0], [y.sub.1]) = (10, 0) has parameters a [??] 5:72917 and [[theta].sub.1] = 2.41201; the time is [T.sub.b] [??] 1:84421;
[T.sub.o]: a piecewise linear function with 20 segments defined over the brachistochrone; the time is [T.sub.o] = 1:85075.
1a one can see that the piecewise linear solution is made of points that are not over the brachistochrone, because that is not the best solution for piecewise functions.
The brachistochrone problem with restrictions, 1999
Ramm [13] presents a conjecture about a brachistochrone problem over the set S of convex functions y (with y''(x) [greater than or equal to] 0 a.e.) and 0 [less than or equal to] y(x) [less than or equal to] [y.sub.0](x), where [y.sub.0] is a straight line between A = (0, 1) and B = (b, 0), b > 0.
The classical brachistochrone solution holds for cases 1 and 2 only.
2 permit us to make conclusions similar to the ones obtained for the pure brachistochrone problem ([sections]2.1).
Newton's problem turns out to be more complex than previously studied brachistochrone problems.
More precisely, we considered the 1696 brachistochrone problem (B); the 1687 Newton's aerodynamical problem of minimal resistance (N); a recent brachistochrone problem with restrictions (R) studied by Ramm in 1999, and where some open questions still remain [13]; and finally a generalized aerodynamical minimum resistance problem with non-parallel flux of particles (P), Recently studied by Plakhov and Torres [11;14] and which gives rise to other interesting questions [15].
Project 2: Calculus of variations, Brachistochrone experiment and analysis of the cycloid