Use this tag for questions about specific tensors (curvature tensor, stress tensor), or questions regarding tensor computations as they appear in multivariable calculus and differential/Riemannian geometry (specifically, when it is amenable to be treated as objects with multiple indices that ...

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65
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5answers
8k views

An Introduction to Tensors

As a physics student, I've come across mathematical objects called tensors in several different contexts. Perhaps confusingly, I've also been given both the mathematician's and physicist's definition, ...
99
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7answers
5k views

Does a “cubic” matrix exist?

Well, I've heard that a "cubic" matrix would exist and I thought: would it be like a magic cube? And more: does it even have a determinant - and other properties? I'm a young student, so... please ...
5
votes
1answer
238 views

Metric on an open subset of $\mathbb{R}^d$ and Christoffel symbol of the second kind

I need to prove the following identity. $\Omega \subset \mathbb{R}^d$ is open and $g$ is a metric field on $\Omega$. Further $\Gamma_{\,kl}^j$ denotes the Christoffel symbol of second kind. $g^{ij}$ ...
4
votes
1answer
831 views

What is the practical difference between abstract index notation and “ordinary” index notation

I understand that in "normal" index notation the indexes can be thought of as coordinates of scalar values inside a tabular data structure, while in the abstract index notation they can not. However, ...
18
votes
4answers
5k views

What is a covector and what is it used for?

From what I understand, a covector is an object that takes a vector and returns a number. So given a vector $v \in V$ and a covector $\phi \in V^*$, you can act on $v$ with $\phi$ to get a real number ...
22
votes
2answers
945 views

Is it misleading to think of rank-2 tensors as matrices?

Having picked up a rudimentary understanding of tensors from reading mechanics papers and Wikipedia, I tend to think of rank-2 tensors simply as square matrices (along with appropriate transformation ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Tensors, what should I learn before?

Here I will be just posting a simple questions. I know about vectors but now I want to know about tensors. In a physics class I was told that scalars are tensors of rank o and vectors are tensors of ...
5
votes
3answers
948 views

Definition of a tensor for a manifold

While reading Nakahara's geometry, topology and physics. I came across the following definition of a tensor. A tensor $T$ of type $(p, q)$ is a multilinear map that maps $p$ dual vectors and $q$ ...
5
votes
1answer
67 views

What does shear mean?

As I understand it, the gradient of a vector field can be decomposed into parts that relate to the divergence, curl, and shear of the function. I understand what divergence and curl are (both ...
1
vote
1answer
40 views

$k$-space tensor integral in statistical physics

$$Q=\int_{\text{all space}} \frac{\hbar \nu_g \mathbf{k}\mathbf{k}}{\exp[(\hbar \nu_g |\mathbf{k}|-\mathbf{k}\cdot\mathbf{u})/k_B T]-1}d\mathbf{k} $$ Please help me to integrate the above tensor ...
5
votes
2answers
309 views

Unique symmetric covariant $k$-tensor satisfying $(\operatorname{Sym} T)(A,…,A)=T(A,…,A)$ for all $A \in V$

Let $T$ be a covariant $k$-tensor on a finite dimensional vector space $V$. I want to prove that the symmetrization of $T$ is the unique symmetric $k$-tensor satisfying the following condition: ...
3
votes
3answers
359 views

Index notation for inverse matrices

I have a question: There is an standard way to write the inverse of a matrix in index notation?. The reason is that I don't want to write $(A^{-1})_{ij}$ or $(A^{-1})_i^j$ or $(A^{-1})^{ij}$ using ...
15
votes
5answers
688 views

What, Exactly, Is a Tensor?

I've repeatedly read things that reference tensors, and despite reading the wiki page and other answers here on stackexchange I still don't know what a tensor is. I'm fine with hearing things in the ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Tensors as matrices vs. Tensors as multi-linear maps

So I read the answers in this question, and don't feel that much closer to an answer about how tensors as multi-linear maps and tensors as "multi-dimensional" matrices are truly related. For ...
4
votes
0answers
392 views

Tensors as mutlilinear maps

I am aware that many books on differential geometry define tensors as multilinear maps. Namely $$ V\otimes W := L_2(V^*\times W^*,\Bbb F) $$ I am also aware that this space is isomorphic to the tensor ...
7
votes
3answers
341 views

Why is the Riemann curvature tensor the technical expression of curvature?

According to my textbook on general relativity (Sean Carrol's book) and differential geometry, the Reimann curvature tensor is the technical expression of curvature. What makes the tensor so special? ...
9
votes
1answer
234 views

How can I determine the number of wedge products of $1$-forms needed to express a $k$-form as a sum of such?

This question was motivated by this related one: How "far" a differential form is from an exterior product . Let $\mathbb{V}$ be a vector space of dimension $n$ with underlying field ...
6
votes
2answers
606 views

Special case of the Hodge decomposition theorem

I am trying to prove the following special case of the Hodge decomposition theorem in differential geometry for an $n$ component vector field $V_i$ in $\mathbb{R}^n$. I have very little knowledge of ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Rotation invariant tensors

It is often claimed that the only tensors invariant under the orthogonal transformations (rotations) are the Kronecker delta $\delta_{ij}$, the Levi-Civita epsilon $\epsilon_{ijk}$ and various ...
5
votes
1answer
195 views

Tensor notation (practicing)

I'm praticing tensor notation, and I want to prove this way that given vectors $A,B,C,D$ then $(A \times B) \times (C \times D) = \det(A,C,D)B - \det(B,C,D)A$, where $\det$ means the triple product. ...
11
votes
5answers
5k views

How to visualize a rank-2 tensor?

The notion (rank-2) "tensor" appears in many different parts of physics, e.g. stress tensor, moment of inertia tensor, etc. I know mathematically a tensor can be represented by a 3x3 matrix. But I ...
7
votes
1answer
622 views

I feel that (physics) notation for tensor calculus is awful. Are there any alternative notations worth looking into?

I am reading through Fung and Tong's "Classical and Computational Solid Mechanics", and feel that the Einstein summation convention saves a few symbols, at the expense of a lot of clarity. Along with ...
5
votes
1answer
243 views

A tensor calculus problem

If the relation $a_{ij}u^iu^j=0$ holds for all vectors $u^i$ such that $u^i\lambda_i=0$ where $\lambda_i$ is a given covariant vector, show that $$a_{ij}+a_{ji}=\lambda_iv_j+\lambda_j v_i$$ where ...
4
votes
2answers
289 views

$\det(A \otimes B - B \otimes A) = 0$ why? Why $rk(M) = n^2-n$ ? Why x and -x in Spec(M) ?

Let $A$, $B$ be $n\times n$ matrices. It seems $\det(A \otimes B - B \otimes A) = 0$. Moreover it seems that the kernel of $A \otimes B - B \otimes A$ contains $n$ vectors. Here is MatLab code to ...
3
votes
1answer
244 views

How to translate between differential forms and tensor index notation

The books on Manifold theory & geometry that I studied introduce connection and curvature in the language of differential forms. But Physics books on the other hand like (General Relativity by ...
2
votes
1answer
808 views

Quotient theorem for tensors

Can somebody please explain to me how the following statement is true? The Riemann curvature tensor $R^c_{dab}$ is given by the Ricci identity $$(\nabla_a\nabla_b-\nabla_b\nabla_a)V^c\equiv ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Trace of tensor product vs Tensor contraction

I have come across various sources that talk about traces of tensors. How does that work? In particular, there seem to be such an equality: $$ \text{Tr}(T_1\otimes ...
6
votes
2answers
439 views

Index notation for tensors: is the spacing important?

While reading physics textbooks I always come across notation like: $$J_{\alpha}^{\quad\beta},\ \Gamma_{\alpha \beta}^{\quad \gamma}, K^\alpha_{\quad \beta}.$$ Notice the spacing in indices. I can't ...
5
votes
2answers
66 views

Curvature tensors and bivectors

At the beginning of the paper "The curvature of 4-dimensional Einstein spaces", by Singer and Thorpe, the authors define the space $\mathcal{R}$ of curvature tensors of the vector space $V$ as the set ...
5
votes
2answers
745 views

What is the definition of tensor contraction?

According to Wikipedia's page on tensor contraction: In general, a tensor of type $(m,n)$ (with $m \geq 1$ and $n \geq 1$) is an element of the vector space $V \otimes \ldots \otimes V \otimes V^* ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

Christoffel symbol transformation law

It is known that the transformation rule when you change coordinate frames of the Christoffel symbol is: $$ \tilde \Gamma^{\mu}_{\nu\kappa} = {\partial \tilde x^\mu \over \partial x^\alpha} \left [ ...
3
votes
3answers
265 views

Covariant derivative geometric interpretation

I'm having some trouble understanding what the covariant derivative means geometrically. I know the definition which states that for a tensor T with any number of indices: $ \nabla_j T = ...
2
votes
0answers
52 views

Connections and Ricci identity

Given $\nabla$ a torsionless connection, the Ricci identity for co-vectors is $$\nabla_a \nabla_b \lambda_c - \nabla_b \nabla_a \lambda_c = -R^d_{\,\,cab}\lambda_d.$$ Prove $R^a_{[bcd]} = 0$ by ...
2
votes
1answer
158 views

Question about stiffness tensor

Let's have a stiffness tensor $$ a^{ijkl}: a^{ijkl} = a^{jikl} = a^{klij} = a^{ijlk}. $$ It has a 21 independent components for anisotropic body. How does body symmetry (cubic, hexagonal etc.) ...
1
vote
2answers
56 views

Question concerning tensors

As some of you may have seen from my previous question(s), I am working through Spivak's Calc on Manifolds and this happens to be the first time I've been introduced to tensors formally, though I have ...
1
vote
1answer
70 views

Determinant of a 2nd rank tensor help and inverse!

I have the following 3x3 matrix $$U_{ij} = g_{ij} + \epsilon_{ijk}u_k$$ and I want to find its inverse using the fact that it can be written as the linear combination of its symmetric part and its ...
1
vote
1answer
43 views

Simple question on symmetric tensors

This question seems to be silly, but i am really confused. Suppose we have a symmetric $2$-tensor $\omega$, I want to prove $$\omega(X,Y)=0\ \ \ \forall \ \ \ X,Y \iff \omega(X,X)=0 \ \ \forall \ \ \ ...
1
vote
1answer
845 views

Riemann tensor in terms of the metric tensor

The Riemann tensor is a function of the metric tensor when the Levi-Civita connection is used. Most tensor notation based texts give the Riemann tensor in terms of the Christoffel symbols, which are ...
0
votes
1answer
42 views

Basis of a tensor

I'm new to tensors, and I need to understand what a certain basis actually is, how to visualise it. Say we have the $r$-dimensional vector space $T_p M$ and $n$-dimensional dual space $T^{*}_p M$. ...
0
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the divergence of a matrix valued function?

According to Wikipedia: The divergence of a continuously differentiable tensor field $\underline{\underline{\epsilon}}$ is: ...
5
votes
1answer
111 views

Divergence theorem for a second order tensor

I want to integrate by part the following integral in cylindrical coordinates $$\int \vec{r} \times (\nabla \cdot \overline{T}) ~d^3\vec{r} $$ where $\overline{T}$ is a second order symmetric tensor ...
4
votes
1answer
281 views

What is the last index of a third-order tensor called?

In a third-order tensor I guess the first and second index would be called row and column respectively but is there a name for the third index?
4
votes
1answer
236 views

Difference between tensor and tensor field?

I couldn't get the difference between tensor and tensor field. I'm learning from Barret O'neill's Semi-Riemann Geometry and here are the definitions: if $A:(V^*)^r \times V^s\to K$ transformation is ...
3
votes
1answer
46 views

Are affine transformation matrices tensors?

Since affine transforms involve a matrix, if the transform matrix is a tensor, it would be of rank two. But, the real question is whether or not a change of basis, or transformation of the underlying ...
3
votes
1answer
103 views

Rank of tensors in terms of ranks of associated linear maps

Let $V$ be a vector space over a field $k$, let $w \in \otimes^l V$ be a tensors. We call $w$ a simple tensor if it can be written as $$ w=w_1 \otimes w_2 \otimes \ldots \otimes w_l, $$ where $w_i \in ...
2
votes
1answer
376 views

Where is the tensor product of two unit vectors projection onto?

I know that $\bar{e} \otimes \bar{e}$ is a projection onto $\bar{e}$. Then, I start to think where is then $\bar{e}_{i} \otimes \bar{e}_{j}$ projection onto. Where is the expression $\bar{e}_{i} ...
2
votes
1answer
867 views

The Dimension of the Symmetric $k$-tensors

I want to compute the dimension of the symmetric $k$-tensors. I know that a covariant $k$-tensor $T$ is called symmetric if it is unchanged under permutation of arguments. Also, I know that the ...
2
votes
2answers
572 views

Tensors of order 3

I'm wondering what a tensor of order 3 looks like, and what it's purposes are. I've seen them written down before, but they look like matrices; I'm probably not understanding the concept well. How is ...
1
vote
1answer
571 views

Difference between the Jacobian matrix and the metric tensor

I am just studying curvilinear coordinates and coordinate transformations. I have recently come across the metric tensor ($g_{ij}=\dfrac{\partial x}{\partial e_i}\dfrac{\partial x}{\partial ...
1
vote
1answer
307 views

How to prove that the Kronecker delta is the unique isotropic tensor of order 2?

Is there a way to prove that the Kronecker delta $\delta_{ij}$ is indeed the only isotropic second order tensor (i.e. invariant under rotation), i.e. so we can write $T_{ij} = \lambda \delta_{ij}$ ...