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17
votes
7answers
3k views

What is a tensor?

I have a pretty good knowledge of physics but couldn't understand what a tensor is. I just couldn't understand it, and the wiki page is very hard to understand as well. Can someone refer me to a good ...
29
votes
4answers
9k views

Are matrices and second rank tensors the same thing?

Tensors are mathematical objects that are needed in physics to define certain quantities. I have a couple of questions regarding them that need to be clarified: Are matrices and second rank tensors ...
20
votes
8answers
2k views

Is it foolish to distinguish between covariant and contravariant vectors?

A vector space is a set whose elements satisfy certain axioms. Now there are physical entities that satisfy these properties, which may not be arrows. A co-ordinate transformation is linear map from a ...
19
votes
4answers
3k views

Irreducible tensors concept

This might be a little naive question, but I am having difficulty grasping the concept of irreducible tensors. Particularly, why do we decompose tensors into symmetric and anti-symmetric parts? I have ...
10
votes
3answers
781 views

How to prove the covariant derivative cannot be written as an eigendecomposition of the partial derivative?

The Question How does one prove that Rindler's definition of the covariant derivative of a covariant vector field $\lambda_a$ as \begin{align} \lambda_{a;c} = \lambda_{a,c} - \Gamma^{b}_{\ \ ca} ...
1
vote
1answer
98 views

How to compute the inertia tensor ${\bf{J}} _{\Omega}$ of a body of revolution

Suppose that $\Omega$ is a body of revolution of the function $y=f(x), a\le x \le b$ around the $x$-axis, where $f(x)>0$ is continuous. How to compute the inertia tensor ${\bf{J}} _{\Omega}$? ...
25
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the physical meaning of the connection and the curvature tensor?

Regarding general relativity: What is the physical meaning of the Christoffel symbol ($\Gamma^i_{\ jk}$)? What are the (preferably physical) differences between the Riemann curvature tensor ($R^i_{\ ...
12
votes
4answers
248 views

Difference between matrix representations of tensors and $\delta^{i}_{j}$ and $\delta_{ij}$?

My question basically is, is Kronecker delta $\delta_{ij}$ or $\delta^{i}_{j}$. Many tensor calculus books (including the one which I use) state it to be the latter, whereas I have also read many ...
3
votes
2answers
256 views

Correct tetrad index notation

There seems to be some different conventions on the indexes of the tetrad. I am wondering which is the standard, which is correct, and which is an abuse of notation. In Sean Carroll's notes and in ...
1
vote
1answer
85 views

Transpose of (1,1) tensor

When we transpose a (1,1) tensor, shall we simply switch the two indices while keeping their upper/lower positions or switch them and also switch their upper/lower positions? In general, would the ...
3
votes
0answers
133 views

Can the two electromagnetic field tensors be combined into a more general tensor?

Given the electromagnetic field tensor $$\begin{align} F_{\mu\nu} = \begin{pmatrix} 0 & -E_{x} & -E_{y} & -E_{z} \\ E_{x} & 0 & B_{z} & -B_{y} \\ E_{y} & -B_{z} & 0 ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Kronecker delta confusion

I'm confused about the Kronecker delta. In the context of four-dimensional spacetime, multiplying the metric tensor by its inverse, I've seen (where the upstairs and downstairs indices are the same): ...
0
votes
1answer
127 views

Square of a tensor

I think, $$\sigma_{ij}\sigma^{ij} = \sigma^2.$$ However, on the Wikipedia page on Raychaudhuri equation, It was mentioned: $$\sigma^2=\frac{1}{2}\sigma^{ij}\sigma_{ij}$$ I am confused, but I think ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

History of Electromagnetic Field Tensor

I'm curious to learn how people discovered that electric and magnetic fields could be nicely put into one simple tensor. It's clear that the tensor provides many beautiful simplifications to the ...
11
votes
4answers
5k views

Why is the covariant derivative of the metric tensor zero?

I've consulted several books for the explanation of why $$\nabla _{\mu}g_{\alpha \beta} = 0,$$ and hence derive the relation between metric tensor and affine connection $\Gamma ^{\sigma}_{\mu ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Can any rank tensor be decomposed into symmetric and anti-symmetric parts?

I know that rank 2 tensors can be decomposed as such. But I would like to know if this is possible for any rank tensors?
3
votes
2answers
248 views

Why are totally antisymmetric tensors more useful than totally symmetric tensors?

In an arbitrary number of dimensions, one can naturally define two tensors, Kronecker delta and Levi-Civita epsilon tensor. However, why isn't it advantageous to define some totally symmetric tensor ...
3
votes
2answers
288 views

Differential Forms and Densities

I've heard that differential forms are related to densities, however I'm still a little confused about that. I thought on the case of charge density and I came to that: let $U\subset\mathbb{R}^3$ be a ...
4
votes
1answer
92 views

Toroid moments tensor decomposition

I am currently working on my bachelor's thesis on the anapole / toroidal moment and it seems that I am stuck with a tensor decomposition problem. I have actually never had a course about tensors, so ...
2
votes
2answers
406 views

Bracket Notation on Tensor Indices

I know about the () symmetrisation and [] anti-symmetrisation brackets on tensor indices so long as they appear on their own, such as : $$V_{[\alpha \beta ]}=\frac{1}{2}\left ( V_{\alpha \beta ...
4
votes
5answers
772 views

Why define four-vectors to be quantities that transform only like the position vector transforms?

A four-vector is defined to be a four component quantity $A^\nu$ which transforms under a Lorentz transformation as $A^{\mu'} = L_\nu^{\mu'} A^\nu$, where $L_\nu^{\mu'}$ is the Lorentz transformation ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Covariant derivative and Leibniz rule

I read the Wikipedia page about the covariant derivative, my main problem is in this part: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covariant_derivative#Coordinate_description Some of the formulas seem to lead ...
2
votes
1answer
129 views

$SU(3)$ irreducible representations with tensor method

I am dealing with the tensor product representation of $SU(3)$ and I have some problems in understanding some decomposition. 1) Let's find the irreducible representation of $3\otimes\bar{3}$ we have ...
1
vote
1answer
902 views

metric signature explanation

Can anyone explain what metric signature is? I have a basic knowledge regarding tensors, btw. Also, how is it related to fundamental understanding of general relativity? Thanks.
7
votes
4answers
896 views

Are covariant vectors representable as row vectors and contravariant as column vectors

I would like to know what are the range of validity of the following statement: Covariant vectors are representable as row vectors. Contravariant vectors are representable as column vectors. ...
6
votes
3answers
298 views

Resources showing how to use differential forms in Physics

I've been learning for a while about multivectors and forms and how they simplify many things that in simple vector calculus seems to be complicated. The only problem until now is that differently ...
5
votes
1answer
430 views

When a variation of a tensor is not a tensor?

In a comment about variation of metric tensor it was shown that $$\delta g_{\mu\nu}=-g_{\mu\rho}g_{\nu\,\sigma}\delta g^{\rho\,\sigma}$$ which is contrary to the usual rule of lowering indeces of a ...
2
votes
1answer
77 views

Proof that 4-potential exists from Gauss-Faraday field equation

This is a problem concerning covariant formulation of electromagnetism. Given $$\partial_{[\alpha} F_{\beta\gamma]}~=~ 0 $$ how does one prove that $F$ can be obtained from a 4-potential $A$ such ...
1
vote
2answers
64 views

Compute the inertial tensor and then solve the equation? [closed]

If the $J_{\Omega}$ is the following matrix, which is solved by ja72 in How to compute the inertia tensor ${\bf{J}} _{\Omega}$ of a body of revolution: $${\bf J} = \rho\, \begin{bmatrix} ...
1
vote
1answer
64 views

Demostrating possible equivalence of two tensors

Is there anyway to see by inspection that a form like $$a(x^2 )^{-3} (g _{μσ} x_{\rho} x_{ ν} + g_{μρ} x_{σ} x_{ ν} +g_{νσ} x_{ρ} x_{ μ} + g_{ νρ} x_{ σ} x_{ μ} ) $$ may be equivalent to (i.e ...
0
votes
2answers
66 views

Proving a relation with Four-velocity tensor [duplicate]

I'm trying to show that: $U^a_{\space\space;b}U^bU_a = 0$ (Where U is four-velocity) and I'm stuck on how to go about it. I tried expanding it out into the Christoffel symbols, but that didn't seem ...
0
votes
0answers
72 views

How should the implicit sum $C_{ijkl}u_{i,j}u_{k,l}$ be interpreted?

$C$ is a 3x3x3x3 tensor. How should the expression $C_{ijkl}u_{i,j}u_{k,l}$ be interpreted? This is my guess: $$ \sum_{i=1}^3\sum_{j=1}^3 \sum_{k=1}^3\sum_{l=1}^3 C_{ijkl}u_{i,j}u_{k,l} $$