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 ...

learn more… | top users | synonyms

104
votes
7answers
6k 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 ...
72
votes
5answers
10k 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, ...
37
votes
5answers
24k 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?
25
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
23
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
21
votes
4answers
9k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
17
votes
1answer
974 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
12
votes
0answers
166 views

Vector valued 2-forms which satisfy Jacobi Identity

Motivated by this MO question we ask the following two questions: 1)What is an example of a compact manifold $M$ which does not admit any smooth (1,2) tensor $\omega$ which restriction to each ...
11
votes
2answers
2k 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
6answers
1k 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
1answer
314 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
6k 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
3answers
630 views

Qualitatively, what is the difference between a matrix and a tensor?

Qualitatively (or mathematically "light"), could someone describe the difference between a matrix and a tensor? I have only seen them used in the context of an undergraduate, upper level classical ...
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 ...
9
votes
1answer
2k 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
3answers
4k 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
2answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
908 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
1k views

Tensor product and Kronecker Product

Is there any difference between tensor product and Kronecker Product?
8
votes
1answer
672 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
290 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
200 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
2answers
106 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?
7
votes
3answers
435 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
170 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
204 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 ...
7
votes
0answers
516 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
243 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
495 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
653 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
186 views

How to simplify $\frac{\partial^m}{\partial y_i^m}\mathrm{div }(A\nabla u({\bf x}({\bf y})))$

Let $\bf{x}\in\mathbb{R}^n$ (interesting in $n\in\{2,3\}$) and let $A=A_{n\times n}=\mathrm{diag}(a_1({\bf x}),\dots,a_n({\bf x}))$, that is $$A_{2\times2}=\begin{bmatrix} ...
6
votes
1answer
4k 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 [ ...
6
votes
2answers
143 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
718 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
62 views

Ricci curvature along Killing vector field

If $V$ is a Killing vector field, I need to prove that $$V^{m}\nabla_{m}R = 0$$ where $R$ is the Ricci scalar $R = g^{mn}R_{mn}$. I´m having some trouble with this, I already showed that ...
6
votes
1answer
84 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
2k 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
196 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
205 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
308 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
181 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
474 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
1k 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
358 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
303 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
834 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^* ...