In this paper, we study the problem of the existence of a least-action principle for invertible, second-order dynamical systems, discrete in time and space. We show that, when the configuration space is finite and arbitrary state transitions are allowed, a least-action principle does not exist for such systems. We dichotomize discrete dynamical systems with infinite configuration spaces into those of finite type for which this theorem continues to hold, and those not of finite type for which it is possible to construct a least-action principle. We also show how to recover an action, by restriction of the phase space of certain second-order discrete dynamical systems. We provide numerous examples to illustrate each of these results. © 2008.
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