## Abstract

In a previous paper (2019 Eur. J. Phys. 40 035005) we showed how to design a discrete brachistochrone with an arbitrary number of segments. We have proved, numerically and graphically, that in the limit of a large number of segments, N ≫ 1, the discrete brachistochrone converges into the continuous brachistochrone, i.e. into a cycloid. Here we show this convergence analytically, in two different ways, based upon the results we obtained from investigating the characteristics of the discrete brachistochrone. We prove that at any arbitrary point, the sliding bead has the same velocity on both the continuous and discrete paths, and the radius of the curvature of both paths is the same at corresponding points. The proofs are based on the well-known fact that the curve of a cycloid is generated by a point attached to the circumference of a rolling wheel. We also show that the total acceleration magnitude of the bead along the cycloid is constant and equal to g, whereas the acceleration vector is directed toward the center of the wheel, and it rotates with a constant angular velocity.

Original language | English |
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Article number | 015004 |

Journal | European Journal of Physics |

Volume | 42 |

Issue number | 1 |

DOIs | |

State | Published - 1 Jan 2021 |

## Keywords

- calculus of variations
- continuous brachistochrone
- cycloid
- discrete brachistochrone
- inertial frames
- radius of curvature

## ASJC Scopus subject areas

- General Physics and Astronomy