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39
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3answers
2k views
20
votes
7answers
7k views

Laplace operator's interpretation

What is your interpretation of Laplace operator? When evaluating Laplacian of some scalar field at a given point one can get a value. What does this value tell us about the field or it's behaviour in ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the difference between implicit and explicit time dependence e.g. $\frac{\partial \rho}{\partial t}$ and $\frac{d \rho} {dt}$?

What is the difference between implicit and explicit time dependence e.g. $\frac{\partial \rho}{\partial t}$ and $\frac{d \rho} {dt}$? I know one is a partial derivative and the other is a total ...
12
votes
1answer
526 views

Is there a “covariant derivative” for conformal transformation?

A primary field is defined by its behavior under a conformal transformation $x\rightarrow x'(x)$: $$\phi(x)\rightarrow\phi'(x')=\left|\frac{\partial x'}{\partial x}\right|^{-h}\phi(x)$$ It's fairly ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Difference between $\Delta$, $d$ and $\delta$

I have read the thread regarding 'the difference between the operators between $\delta$ and $d$', but it does not answer my question. I am confused about the notation for change in Physics. In ...
10
votes
2answers
373 views

Lagrangian Mechanics - Commutativity Rule $\frac{d}{dt}\delta q=\delta \frac{dq}{dt} $

I am reading about Lagrangian mechanics. At some point the difference between the temporal derivative of a variation and variation of the temporal derivative is discussed. The fact that the two are ...
9
votes
4answers
854 views

What is the relation between (physicists) functional derivatives and Fréchet derivatives

I´m wondering how can one get to the definition of Functional Derivative found on most Quantum Field Theory books: $$\frac{\delta F[f(x)]}{\delta f(y) } = \lim_{\epsilon \rightarrow 0} ...
8
votes
1answer
249 views

When motion begins, do objects go through an infinite number of position derivatives?

This might be a very vague and unclear question, but let me explain. When an object at rest moves, or moves from point $A$ to point $B$, we know the object must have had some velocity (1st derivative ...
8
votes
1answer
179 views

Time derivative of the state vector as expressed in abstract Hilbert space vs. as a wavefunction

The Schrodinger equation in Hilbert space is expressed as : $$\frac{\partial}{\partial t} \psi(t) = \frac{-i}{\hbar}H\psi(t). $$ Here $\frac{\partial}{\partial t} \psi(t) \equiv \psi'(t) \equiv\lim ...
7
votes
4answers
296 views

Conserved quantities and total derivatives?

I am having a bit of a crisis in understanding of the physical meanings of total derivatives. When a quantity $\rho$ (be it a vector or a scalar) is said to be conserved, then (mathematically) ...
6
votes
6answers
2k views

How is gradient the maximum rate of change of a function?

Recently I read a book which described about gradient. It says $${\rm d}T~=~ \nabla T \cdot {\rm d}{\bf r},$$ and suddenly they concluded that $\nabla T$ is the maximum rate of change of $f(T)$ ...
6
votes
4answers
740 views

What is the current of a capacitor when the derivative of voltage is undefined?

This is from the textbook I am reading: I know this equation for capacitors: $$i=C\cdot \frac { dv }{ dt }$$ Here is my question: how can diagram (a) be allowed if the derivative of the voltage ...
6
votes
4answers
396 views

Name this Mulltivariable Calculus Theorem

In Robert Wald's book General Relativity a multivariable calculus theorem is cited on page 16, which states: If $F:\mathbb{R}^n\mapsto \mathbb{R}$ is $C^{\infty}$ then for each $a=(a^1,...,a^n) \in ...
5
votes
2answers
186 views

A confusion about notation in Goldstein

On treating systems of particles, Goldstein starts with the consideration that whenever there are $k$ particles on a system, the $i$-th one obeys the relation $$\dfrac{d}{dt}{\bf p}_i = {\bf ...
5
votes
7answers
670 views

Physical intuition for higher order derivatives

Could somebody give me an intuitive physical interpretation of higher order derivatives (from 2 and so on), that is not related to position - velocity - acceleration - jerk - etc?
5
votes
0answers
112 views

Is it correct to sum over either index of the metric the same way?

I don't know if the following is correct, i want to compute the following derivative $$\frac{\partial }{\partial (\partial_{\mu}A_{\nu})}\left(\partial^{\alpha}A^{\beta}\partial_{\alpha}A_{\beta} ...
4
votes
1answer
224 views

Do partial derivatives commute on tensors?

For example; is $$\partial_{\rho}\partial_{\sigma}h_{\mu\nu} - \partial_{\sigma}\partial_{\rho}h_{\mu\nu}=0$$ correct?
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Derivatives of operators

How do derivatives of operators work? Do they act on the terms in the derivative or do they just get "added to the tail"? Is there a conceptual way to understand this? For example: say you had the ...
4
votes
2answers
129 views

Conventions regarding partial derivatives

Look at this expression: $$\frac{\partial}{\partial t} (V-\mathbf{v}\cdot\mathbf{A}).$$ This expression occurs in Griffiths EM book (4th ed, p.444). $V=V(\mathbf{r},t)$is the scalar potential, ...
4
votes
1answer
83 views

Higgs mechanism in QED

I'm trying to understand the Higgs mechanics. For that matter, I'm exploring the possibility of giving mass to the photon in a gauge-invariant way. So, if we introduce a complex scalar field: $$ ...
3
votes
1answer
94 views

Contradiction of a scalar product

Can anyone resolve this contradiction: ...
3
votes
2answers
294 views

Derivative with respect to a vector is a gradient?

I've encountered in some books (and even completed an exercise from the Goldstein by using it), a strange notation that seems to work exactly like a gradient, I have tried to look for an explanation ...
3
votes
1answer
106 views

What is the difference between $\nabla _{\sigma} $ and $ \nabla^{\sigma}$?

What is the difference between: $\nabla _{\sigma} $ and $ \nabla^{\sigma}$? I've been told that the first is the covariant derivative, however I'm just starting a course on spacetime geometry and ...
3
votes
2answers
275 views

What are $\partial_t$ and $\partial^\mu$?

I'm reading the Wikipedia page for the Dirac equation: $\rho=\phi^*\phi\,$ ...... $J = -\frac{i\hbar}{2m}(\phi^*\nabla\phi - \phi\nabla\phi^*)$ with the conservation of probability ...
3
votes
1answer
60 views

Why do we need the material derivative?

I'm studying fluid mechanics, and I got the impression that the material derivative is nothing more than "differentiating along a path" and so I got confused on why do we need it. Basically, let ...
3
votes
6answers
932 views

Is acceleration $a = s/t^2$, or $a = 2s/t^2$, or something third?

I'm having trouble understanding some of the stuff regarding movement in my introductory physics class (I never thought I'd say that...) Acceleration is defined as $ a = \frac{s}{t^2}.$ Distance can ...
3
votes
1answer
82 views

Why do we do partial and not covariant differentiation with $x^{\nu}$?

Why when taking the velocity vector we make $$u^{\nu}=\frac{d}{d\tau}x^{\nu}$$ and not $$u^{\nu}=\frac{\nabla}{d\tau}x^{\nu}$$ where in the last equation I meant the covariant derivative. Why?
3
votes
1answer
164 views

Neglecting second order differentials

I am currently doing some Lorentz invariance exercises considering infinitesimal Lorentz transformations, and have been told to neglect second order differentials. It's not the first time I have come ...
2
votes
2answers
976 views

Derivative of the product of operators

I'm asked to show that $\frac{d(\hat{A}\hat{B})}{d\lambda} = \frac{d\hat{A}}{d\lambda}\hat{B} + \hat{A}\frac{d\hat{b}}{d\lambda}$ With $\lambda$ a continuous parameter Should I use the definition ...
2
votes
4answers
162 views

Poincare invariant Lagrangians

The Lagrangian density of a Poincare invariant theory should not depend explicitly on the space-time coordinates. Does this mean $$ \partial_\mu \mathcal{L}=0~? $$ If this is the case doesn't the ...
2
votes
2answers
131 views

Any difference between thermodynamic double-derivative and derivative “at constant” value?

Reading about the Maxwell relations has left me confused, and I want a basic sanity check regarding the notation. The Wikipedia article breezes over the following switch of notation without really ...
2
votes
3answers
183 views

Ordering of differential operators

If we write something like: $\partial_a X_{\mu} \partial^a X^{\mu}$ Does that mean the first derivative is only applied to the first X? ($\partial_a X_{\mu})( \partial^a X^{\mu}$) Or is the ...
2
votes
2answers
184 views

Are there general circuits that differentiate/integrate empirically?

Is it possible to construct simple circuits, that given a time-varying input, produce an output that represents the derivative or integral of the input with respect to time?
2
votes
3answers
52 views

Can we measure rates in real time?

I know what it means to say that my position is "X" at a particular moment in time. I can easily take a picture of my motion and observe my exact location at the instant the picture was taken. That is ...
2
votes
1answer
220 views

What is a covariant derivative in gauge theory?

I've been studying electroweak theory and you need to keep the Lagrangian covariant by introducing covariant derivatives. What is a covariant derivative? And what does it mean to keep the Lagrangian ...
2
votes
1answer
145 views

Partial derivative potential energy of 'free' vibration

I have this rather mathematical question about the calculation of the partial derivative of a potential energy function given by: $$U(x_i)=\frac{1}{2}\sum_{i,j}\frac{\partial^2U(0)}{\partial ...
2
votes
1answer
85 views

Can these two terms cancel out?

In trying to prove that $$\Gamma_{\mu\nu\lambda} = \eta_{ab}J^a_bJ^b_{\nu\lambda}.$$ The author canceled out while expanding the first equation $$J^a_{\mu\lambda}J^b_\nu$$ with ...
2
votes
2answers
91 views

Covariant derivative of a covariant tensor wrt superscript

Is it true that when you take the covariant derivative of a covariant tensor, do you always have to do with a subscript? What if you do it wrt a superscript?Does the first term (with the partial ...
2
votes
1answer
88 views

Are covariant derivatives of Killing vector fields symmetric?

I'm reading the Lecture Notes on General Relativity by Matthias Blau, and in section 9.1 (point 1) he writes: Let $K^\mu$ be a Killing vector field, and ${x^\mu(\tau)}$ be a geodesic. Then the ...
2
votes
1answer
58 views

Taylor series expansion of $\ln$ and $\cosh$ in distance fallen in time $t$ equation

I want to find the Taylor expansion of $y=\frac {V_t^2}{g} \ln(\cosh(\frac{gt}{V_t}))$ I have tried using the fact $\cosh x= \frac {e^x}{2}$ for large t, which works, I just need help on small values ...
2
votes
3answers
212 views

Physical motivation for differentiation under the integral

I am thinking about the mathematical process of "differentiating underneath the integral", i.e. applying the theorem $$\partial_s \int_{-\infty}^\infty f(x,s)\,dx=\int_{-\infty}^\infty \partial_s ...
1
vote
4answers
757 views

Which Schrodinger equation is correct?

In the coordinate representation, in 1D, the wave function depends on space and time, $\Psi(x,t)$, accordingly the time dependent Schrodinger equation is $$H\Psi(x,t) = ...
1
vote
2answers
254 views

What does $\textbf{f} = -\boldsymbol{\nabla} u$ mean in practice and how is it computed?

In classical computer simulations such as molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, one integrates Newton's equations of motion to determine particle trajectories. If we think of Newton's Second Law as ...
1
vote
2answers
215 views

Differentiation in general relativity

If we have: $$ \frac{d\phi^a}{d\tau}= \frac{\partial \phi^a}{\partial x^\mu} \frac{dx^\mu}{d\tau} \tag{1}$$ Differentiating it, we get: $$ \frac{\partial \phi^a}{\partial ...
1
vote
3answers
186 views

Apparent dimensional mismatch after taking derivative

Suppose I have a variable $x$ and a constant $a$, each having the dimension of length. That is $[x]=[a]=[L]$ where square brackets denote the dimension of the physical quantity contained within them. ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Derive vector gradient in spherical coordinates from first principles

Trying to understand where the $\frac{1}{r sin(\theta)}$ and $1/r$ bits come in the definition of gradient. I've derived the spherical unit vectors but now I don't understand how to transform ...
1
vote
4answers
891 views

When we take time derivative of a function of time, then is the result another function of time, again?

(I'll try to explain my question by one known example), for example where the velocity is a function of time v(t) then its time derivative (which is acceleration: $a=\frac {dv}{dt}$) is another ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

Curl of a vector field with two different systems of coordinates

Let $$\mathbf{H} = H_x \mathbf{u}_x + H_y \mathbf{u}_y + H_z \mathbf{u}_z$$ be a vector field whose components are defined with respect to the unit vectors $\mathbf{u}_x$, $\mathbf{u}_y$ and ...
1
vote
1answer
198 views

$\nabla({\bf u}^2)=2({\bf u}\cdot \nabla){\bf u} - 2(\nabla \times {\bf u}) \times {\bf u}$

Please see the next link: http://www3.kis.uni-freiburg.de/~peter/teach/hydro/hydro02.pdf In (2.13), he used: $$\nabla({\bf u}^2)=2({\bf u}\cdot \nabla){\bf u} - 2(\nabla \times {\bf u}) \times {\bf ...
1
vote
1answer
261 views

Arbitrary tensor covariant derivative

what are the rules for performing covariant derivatives on tensors of arbitrary rank? I found a few examples of Tensor derivatives: $$\nabla_{c} T^a {}_{b} = \partial_{c}T^a {}_{b}+ \Gamma^a{}_{cd} ...