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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95
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7answers
4k 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 ...
49
votes
5answers
7k 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, ...
22
votes
2answers
847 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
4k 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
885 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
5answers
9k 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?
15
votes
5answers
456 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
4k 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
5answers
618 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
896 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
838 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
653 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
175 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
1answer
99 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
563 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
90 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 ...
6
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 ...
6
votes
2answers
792 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
378 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
1answer
542 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
467 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
68 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
157 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
150 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
375 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
670 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
277 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
662 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
96 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
291 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
2answers
130 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
1answer
166 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
3answers
1k 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
1answer
584 views

Tensor product and Kronecker Product

Is there any difference between tensor product and Kronecker Product?
5
votes
1answer
94 views

Space of Alternating $k$-Tensors Notation

I will be taking a Differential Geometry class in the Fall, so I decided to get somewhat of a head start by going through Spivak's "Calculus on Manifolds." Before reading, though, I saw the Addenda at ...
5
votes
1answer
82 views

The derivative of the determinant of a Kronecker product

For an invertible matrix $A$, we have the identity \begin{align} \dfrac{\partial \det A}{\partial A} = \det A (A^{-1})^T \end{align} where the $T$ denotes the transpose operation. How does this ...
5
votes
2answers
486 views

Parallel Transport along a curve

We had this homework assignment for our geometry course, and we couldn't figure it out, any ideas on how to do this: Consider the Poincare model of Lobachevsky plane, $H^2=\left\lbrace{ ...
5
votes
1answer
226 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
201 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. $g^{ij}$ ...
5
votes
0answers
126 views

Number of isotropic tensors of rank N

Could someone please help me out with this problem? I would like to know what the number of distinct isotropic tensors of rank N is. I am new to the field and got confused by apparently contradictory ...
5
votes
0answers
173 views

What are spinor fields?

For example, a tensor field $T=T_{a,b}^{\ \ \ \ c}$ on a manifold $M$ should be thought as $$ T_{a,b}^{\ \ \ \ c}dx^{a}\otimes dx^{b}\otimes \frac{\partial}{\partial x^{c}} $$ with local coordinate ...
4
votes
2answers
278 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
188 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
296 views

Is there such a thing as discrete Riemannian geometry?

General relativity expresses gravity as a curvature in space time, created by the stress energy tensor. $$T_{\mu\nu} \approx R_{\mu\nu} - \frac{R}{2} g_{\mu\nu}$$ Given I put the fact that energy is ...
4
votes
2answers
157 views

For covariant tensors, why is it $\bigwedge^k(V)$, not $\bigwedge^k(V^*)$?

In learning the very basics of differential geometry, I have seen the exterior product defined a couple of ways: First, I have seen it as the image of the covariant tensors (which I believe are ...
4
votes
1answer
104 views

Basic property of a tensor

In Jost's Riemannian Geometry and Geometric Analysis (6th ed.) on page 142 there is the following remark concerning the torsion tensor. Remark. It is not difficult to verify that [the torsion ...
4
votes
2answers
205 views

Confusion when dealing with tensors.

I don't understand how tensors work, can someone please explain? In particular, in the context of Electromagnetism, the dual of the field tensor $F$ is $$(*F)^{\mu\nu}:={1\over ...