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A friend of mine has recently developed an interest (rather, an obsession) with the Calculus of Variations. He's familiar with linear algebra and also with the contents of Spivak's "Calculus on Manifolds", and is now looking for the shortest path to Gelfand and Fomin's "Calculus of Variations" book.

Is there such a "shortest path"?. Personally, I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea, so I'm posting here for clarification.

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# Shortest path to the Calculus of Variations

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