# Finding stream function from velocity fields.

Consider a velocity field $$u = x\hat{i}+2y\hat{j}$$. To find its stream function,$$\frac{\partial\psi}{\partial y}=x$$ $$\psi = xy + f(x)$$ and $$\frac{\partial\psi}{\partial x}=-2y$$ $$\psi=-2xy+g(y)$$ I am stuck at this point because both $$\psi$$ do not agree with each other and arbitrary functions $$f$$ and $$g$$ are not single variable if we proceed further. Please help in proceeding further to find the stream function of this velocity field.

## 1 Answer

The given velocity field does not correspond to incompressible flow since the continuity equation is not satisfied, i.e.,

$$\nabla \cdot \mathbf{u} = \frac{\partial u }{\partial x} + \frac{\partial v}{\partial y} = \frac{\partial}{\partial x} (x) + \frac{\partial }{\partial y} (2y) = 3 \neq 0$$

The streamfunction does not exist in this case.

A proof of the existence of a streamfunction for two-dimensional, incompressible flow satisfying $$\psi_y = u, \, \psi_x = -v$$ is given here.

Aside

This velocity field is irrotational with

$$\nabla \times \mathbf{u} = \frac{\partial v }{\partial x} - \frac{\partial u}{\partial y} = 0,$$

and can be expressed in terms of a poatential

$$\mathbf{u} = - \nabla \phi,$$

where $$\phi = -x^2/2 - y^2 +C$$.