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39
votes
3answers
3k views
21
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
19
votes
7answers
8k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
632 views

Symbols of derivatives

What is the exact use of the symbols $\partial$, $\delta$ and $\mathrm{d}$ in derivatives in physics? How are they different and when are they used? It would be nice to get that settled once and for ...
13
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
593 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
395 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
923 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
259 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
186 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
382 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
3k 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
5answers
792 views

What is the meaning of following expression $C=\frac{\delta Q}{dT}$ mathematically?

Our professor raised the following question during our lecture in Statistical Physics (even so it's related to Thermodynamics): Many text books (even Wikipedia) writes wrong expressions (from ...
6
votes
4answers
1k 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
398 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
206 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
1answer
261 views

Do partial derivatives commute on tensors?

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?
5
votes
7answers
707 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?
4
votes
2answers
453 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
187 views

Why doesn't this multiplication of Grassmann variables give the expected result?

Would anyone be able to tell me how srednicki goes from step $(44.29)$ to $(44.30)$? Here is the paragraph: Now let us introduce the notion of complex Grassmann variables via $$\begin{align} ...
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
132 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
89 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: $$ ...
4
votes
2answers
142 views

Geometric meaning of parallel transport

The definition of parallel transport of a vector $v^b$ along a curve $C$ with tangent field $\it{t}^a$ is given by Wald's GR as $$t^a \nabla_a v^b = 0$$ Is it correct to think of $\nabla_a v^b$ as ...
3
votes
1answer
431 views

Can one raise indices on covariant derivative and products thereof?

Can the following be true? $g^{\sigma\rho}\nabla_{\rho}\nabla_{\mu} = \nabla^{\sigma}\nabla_{\mu}$ $g^{\sigma\rho}\nabla_{\nu}\nabla_{\sigma} = \nabla_{\nu}\nabla^{\rho}$ ...
3
votes
1answer
95 views

Contradiction of a scalar product

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

Physical meaning of harmonic function?

In complex numbers, we define a harmonic function as a twice continuously differentiable function such that the Laplace operator acting on it gives zero. Can anybody explain me the physical ...
3
votes
1answer
113 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
1answer
627 views

Time evolution in quantum mechanics

We know that an operator A in quantum mechanics has time evolution given by Heisenberg equation: $$ \frac{i}{\hbar}[H,A]+\frac{\partial A}{\partial t}=\frac{d A}{d t} $$ Can we derive from this ...
3
votes
2answers
284 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
103 views

Time derivative of time-translation Killing vector

I'm working with the spherically symmetric, static black hole metric. In the problem I'm working on, I'm told that $K$ is the time-translation Killing vector, $\frac{\partial}{\partial t}$ or $K = (1, ...
3
votes
2answers
147 views

Why and when do we differentiate or integrate equations in physics? [closed]

I'm an engineering student and none of my professors ever explained why do we use derivations and/or integrations in physics. So I have this task, it goes like: The object is moving in a positive ...
3
votes
1answer
69 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
1k 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
94 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
179 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
7answers
381 views

Can velocity be an undefined quantity?

We have the image below displaying the uniform velocity by time-distance graph. At every point velocity is constant but what if distance and time both become zero as at origin in the graph is? The ...
2
votes
4answers
699 views

Why can't impulse be instantaneous?

We know from 2nd law of motion that $$\vec{F} = \frac{d\vec{p}}{dt}.$$ Now, a rate of change can be instantaneous. So, rate of change of momentum is instantaneous. But I doubt how can there be ...
2
votes
2answers
1k 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
905 views

Which Schrödinger equation is correct?

In the coordinate representation, in 1D, the wave function depends on space and time, $\Psi(x,t)$, accordingly the time dependent Schrödinger equation is $$H\Psi(x,t) = ...
2
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
69 views

Derivation of velocities in the Coriolis force

In Fitzpatrick's Newtonian Dynamics book on the Coriolis force, he states \begin{align} v_{x'}&\simeq V_0\cos\theta-2\Omega t V_0\sin\lambda~\sin\theta \tag{433}\\ ...
2
votes
4answers
208 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
164 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
187 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
188 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
60 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
242 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
188 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
58 views

Is this covariant derivative identity true?

Trying to work through a textbook derivation of the geodesic deviation equation, I've calculated this identity:$$u_{;\beta}^{\alpha}u_{\alpha}=u_{\alpha;\beta}u^{\alpha}.$$ If this is true, I'm ...