National Research University Higher School of Economics

Introduction into General Theory of Relativity

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General Theory of Relativity or the theory of relativistic gravitation is the one which describes black holes, gravitational waves and expanding Universe. The goal of the course is to introduce you into this theory. The introduction is based on the consideration of many practical generic examples in various scopes of the General Relativity. After the completion of the course you will be able to solve basic standard problems of this theory. We assume that you are familiar with the Special Theory of Relativity and Classical Electrodynamics. However, as an aid we have recorded several complementary materials which are supposed to help you understand some of the aspects of the Special Theory of Relativity and Classical Electrodynamics and some of the calculational tools that are used in our course. Also as a complementary material we provide the written form of the lectures at the website: https://math.hse.ru/generalrelativity2015

From the lesson

Einstein-Hilbert action and Einstein equations

We start with the explanation of how one can define Einstein equations from fundamental principles. Such as general covariance, least action principle and the proper choice of dynamical variables. Namely, the role of the latter in the General Theory of Relativity is played by the metric tensor of space-time. Then we derive the Einstein equations from the least action principle applied to the Einstein-Hilbert action. Also we define the energy-momentum tensor for matter and show that it obeys a conservation law. We describe the basic generic properties of the Einstein equations. We end up this module with some examples of energy-momentum tensors for different sorts of matter fields or bodies and particles.To help understanding this module we provide complementary video with the explanation of the least action principle in the simplest case of the scalar field in flat two-dimensional space-time.