# There is no variational characterization of the cycles in the method of periodic projections

The method of periodic projections consists in iterating projections onto \$m\$ closed convex subsets of a Hilbert space according to a periodic sweeping strategy. In the presence of \$m\geq 3\$ sets, a long-standing question going back to the 1960s is whether the limit cycles obtained by such a process can be characterized as the minimizers of a certain functional. In this paper we answer this question in the negative. Projection algorithms that minimize smooth convex functions over a product of convex sets are also discussed.