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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99
votes
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 ...
65
votes
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, ...
23
votes
5answers
13k views

Differences between a matrix and a tensor

What is the difference between a matrix and a tensor? Or, what makes a tensor, a tensor? I know that a matrix is a table of values, right? But, a tensor?
22
votes
2answers
935 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 ...
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 ...
17
votes
1answer
925 views

Proof of $\det(\textbf{ST})=\det(\textbf{S})\det(\textbf{T})$ in Penrose graphical notation

For two matrices $\textbf{S}$ and $\textbf{T}$, a proof of $\det(\textbf{ST})=\det(\textbf{S})\det(\textbf{T})$ is given below in the diagrammatic tensor notation. Here $\det$ denotes the ...
16
votes
4answers
6k views

Intuitive way to understand covariance and contravariance in Tensor Algebra

I'm trying to understand basic tensor analysis. I understand the basic concept that the valency of the tensor determines how it is transformed, but I am having trouble visualizing the difference ...
15
votes
5answers
659 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
919 views

A user's guide to Penrose graphical notation?

Penrose graphical notation seems to be a convenient way to do calculations involving tensors/ multilinear functions. However the wiki page does not actually tell us how to use the notation. The ...
11
votes
2answers
1k views

Do I understand metric tensor correctly?

So I've been studying vectors and tensors, and I'm trying to understand metric tensors. As I understand them, besides a vast array of explanations, they provide an invariant distance between vectors ...
11
votes
5answers
792 views

Book on tensors

Can anyone recommend me a book on tensors with an intuitive approach? I have some course notes on that subject, but it's really abstract and theoretical. I want to understand why tensors were ...
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
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 ...
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 ...
8
votes
1answer
220 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
947 views

Vectors, Basis, Dual Vectors, Dual Basis and Tensors

I'm trying to understand tensors and I know they have something to do with the basis and the dual basis of a vector space and a dual space. First I will give a concrete example to make clear what I ...
8
votes
1answer
582 views

How can I derive the back propagation formula in a more elegant way?

When you compute the gradient of the cost function of a neural network with respect to its weights, as I currently understand it, you can only do it by computing the partial derivative of the cost ...
8
votes
1answer
169 views

Invariant tensors in adjoint representation

Suppose we have a simple Lie group $G$ with algebra $\mathfrak{g}=\{X_a\}$, where the generators $X_a$ are in some matrix representation. Is it true that the only invariant rank $n$ tensor 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
994 views

Are matrices rank 2 tensors?

I know that this is sometimes the case, but that some matrices are not tensors. So what is the intuitive and specific demands of a matrix to also be a tensor? Does it need to be quadratic, singular or ...
7
votes
2answers
183 views

Reference for densities and pseudoforms and non-tensorial representations of $\operatorname{GL}(n)$ and associated vector bundles

I'm looking for a reference that will set me straight on a few things. It started out with densities. In John Lee's book, "Introduction to Smooth Manifolds", densities on vector spaces are functions ...
7
votes
3answers
325 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? ...
7
votes
1answer
128 views

Tensor fields and vector bundles

Let $M$ be a differentiable manifold, $TM$ and $T^*M$ a tangent and cotangent bundle of $M$ and let $\Gamma (TM),\ \Gamma (T^*M)$ be spaces of smooth sections of $TM$ and $T^*M$. Let $T_s^r (M)$ ...
7
votes
1answer
614 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 ...
7
votes
0answers
64 views

Determinant of a tensor

Is there such a thing as the determinant of a tensor of rank $\gt 2$? I'm tried to think how it might be defined -- potentially like, the determinant of the tensor $A=a_{ijk}$ is ...
7
votes
1answer
121 views

Tensors as Multilinear maps?

Today I learned about Tensors as multilinear maps. I usually think of tensors as a multidimensional array of numbers with fixed transformation laws, and I am having trouble understanding how tensors ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the metric tensor on the n-sphere (hypersphere)?

I am considering the unit sphere (but an extension to one of radius $r$ would be appreciated) centered at the origin. Any coordinate system will do, though the standard angular one (with 1 radial and ...
6
votes
2answers
428 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
114 views

Intuition about $v\otimes w$

In Physics and Differential Geometry usually tensors of type $(k,l)$ on a vector space $V$ over $\mathbb{F}$ are defined as multilinear functions $$f : \underbrace{V\times\cdots\times V}_{k \ ...
6
votes
2answers
88 views

Does a $p$-form eat $p$-vectors or $p$ number of vectors?

A bilinear form is another term for a $2$-form. So does it eat $2$ distinct vectors or a single $2$-vector?
6
votes
2answers
581 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
79 views

Is it possible to build a tensor with the following properties?

I am searching for a tensor in 4-dimensional space-time with two indices that satisfy: \begin{eqnarray} M_{;\mu }^{\mu \nu } &=&0, \\ M^{\mu \nu } + M^{\nu\mu}&=&0, \nonumber \\ ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Vorticity equation in index notation (curl of Navier-Stokes equation)

I am trying to derive the vorticity equation and I got stuck when trying to prove the following relation using index notation: $$ {\rm curl}((\textbf{u}\cdot\nabla)\mathbf{u}) = ...
6
votes
1answer
173 views

Tensor product of algebra

Can we find define a norm on tensor product $C(X) \otimes C(Y)$ such that the norm completion of $C(X)\otimes C(Y)=C(X\times Y)$ And can we define a norm on tensor product $L^1(X)\otimes L^1(Y)$ such ...
6
votes
0answers
132 views

Physical components of a third-order tensor

Aris' book Vectors, Tensors, and the Basic Equations of Fluid Mechanics describes how to convert between covariant, contravariant, and physical components of vectors and tensors. For example, in ...
6
votes
0answers
131 views

What is the difference between tensor calculus and exterior derivative type concepts?

I am trying to clarify terms in order to help me figure out what I'd like to study. I understand that $p$-forms and $p$-vectors are used with things like wedge products, exterior algebras, and a ...
6
votes
0answers
161 views

Mnemonic device for relationships between Hom and Tensor

Probably this is a stupid question, but nevertheless... Let $A$, $B$, $C$ and $D$ be rings, and $M$, $N$ and $K$ be appropriate bimodules between them. There are extremely well-known canonical ...
5
votes
3answers
422 views

Are vectors and covectors the same thing?

In Euclidean space, we usually don't distinguish between vectors and covectors (or dual vectors or 1-forms or whatever you want to call them) -- because the spaces overlap. However, a physicist ...
5
votes
3answers
894 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
2answers
311 views

$e_1\otimes e_2 \otimes e_3$ cannot be written as a sum of an alternating tensor and a symmetric tensor

Let $(e_1,e_2,e_3)$ be the standard dual basis for $(\mathbb{R}^3)^\ast$. How can I show that $e_1\otimes e_2 \otimes e_3$ cannot be written as a sum of an alternating (or antisymmetric) tensor and a ...
5
votes
2answers
726 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^* ...
5
votes
2answers
55 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
131 views

Exact meaning of “Not every matrix is a tensor”.

I've recently begun reading about tensors and am trying to understand the second order variety in the context of euclidean $\mathbb{R}^n$ with orthonormal basis {$e_1, e_2,\ldots, e_n$}. This seems ...
5
votes
2answers
306 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: ...
5
votes
1answer
385 views

The divergence of the Weyl tensor

First, the Weyl tensor is given by $$W_{ijkl}=R_{ijkl}-\frac{1}{n-2}(g_{ik}A_{jl}-g_{il}A_{jk}-g_{jk}A_{il}+g_{jl}A_{ik})$$ where, $A_{ij}$ is the Schouten tensor, given by ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Multiplying 3D matrix

I was wondering if it is possible to multiply a 3D matrix (say a cube $n\times n\times n$) to a matrix of dimension $n\times 1$? If yes, then how. Maybe you can suggest some resources which I can read ...
5
votes
2answers
182 views

Classical tensor analysis and Tensors on Manifolds

I learned tensors the bad way (Cartesian first, then curvilinear coordinate systems assuming a Euclidean background) and realize that I am in very bad shape trying to (finally) learn tensors on ...
5
votes
2answers
172 views

Tensor Components

I would like to ask something On the Barrett Oneill's Semi-Riemann Geometry there is a definition of tensor component: Let $\xi=(x^1,\dots ,x^n)$ be a coordinate system on $\upsilon\subset M$. If $A ...
5
votes
1answer
192 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. ...
5
votes
1answer
775 views

Tensor product and Kronecker Product

Is there any difference between tensor product and Kronecker Product?