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22
votes
4answers
5k 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: 1-Are matrices and second rank tensors ...
22
votes
4answers
4k 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_{\ ...
16
votes
8answers
971 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
14
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 ...
12
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
824 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?
11
votes
2answers
157 views

Inverting the equation for $T_{\mu\nu}$ in terms of $F_{\mu\nu}$

The Stress-Energy Tensor for electromagnetism is given by: $$ T_{\mu \nu} = F_{\mu}\,^{\alpha}F_{\nu\alpha}-\frac{1}{4}g_{\mu\nu}F_{\alpha\beta}F^{\alpha\beta} $$ How can I find $F_{\mu\nu}$ in ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

What does the dual of a tensor mean (e.g. dual stress tensor in relativistic ED)?

I know what the dual of a vector means (as a map to its field), and I am also aware of of the definition a dual of a tensor as, $$F^{*ij} = \frac{1}{2} \epsilon^{ijkl} F_{kl}\tag{1}$$ I just don't ...
10
votes
4answers
137 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
414 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} ...
8
votes
2answers
340 views

Mixed symmetrization and antisymmetrization / Combinatorics

I have the following sum of 10 terms: $$ \delta^{ab}f^{cde} + \delta^{ac}f^{bde} + \delta^{ad}f^{bce} + \delta^{ae}f^{bcd} + \delta^{bc}f^{ade} + \delta^{bd}f^{ace} + \delta^{be}f^{acd} + ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the covariant derivative in mathematician's language?

In mathematics, we talk about tangent vectors and cotangent vectors on a manifold at each point, and vector fields and cotangent vector fields (also known as differential one-forms). When we talk ...
6
votes
2answers
472 views

Why isn't invariant notation common?

In principle, one can write quantities in a manifestly invariant - rather than covariant - fashion in e.g. special relativity. For example, rather than writing just $x^\mu$, we could write the basis ...
6
votes
2answers
132 views

Torsion and gauge invariant EM kinetic term

Everytime I hear about adding torsion to GR, something struggles me: how do you create a kinetic term for the electromagnetic field that is still gauge-invariant? One of the consequences of torsion is ...
6
votes
2answers
284 views

Is there any physics behind covariance and contravariance of indices of tensors?

Is there any physics behind covariance and contravariance (up and down) of indices of tensors?
6
votes
1answer
410 views

energy momentum tensor and covariant derivative

In field theory, the energy momentum defined as the functional derivative wrt the metric $T_{\mu\nu}=\frac{2}{\sqrt{-g}}\frac{\delta S}{\delta g^{\mu\nu}}$ (up to a sign depending on ...
6
votes
4answers
675 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
224 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
3answers
236 views

Error in books of conformal field theory?

If you look at the book Conformal Field Theory (by Philippe Francesco, Pierre Mathieu and David Senechal) or the lecture notes Applied Conformal Field Theory (by Paul Ginsparg), and many other places: ...
5
votes
1answer
279 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
93 views

Proca Lagrangian manipulation

How can I show that the Lagrangian density $$\mathcal{L} = -\frac{1}{2}\partial_\alpha \varphi_\beta \partial^\alpha \varphi^\beta + \frac{1}{2} \partial_\alpha \varphi^\alpha \partial_\beta ...
5
votes
1answer
86 views

Levi Civita covariance and contravariance

I read some older posts about this question, but I don't know if I'm getting it. I'm working with a Lagrangian involving some Levi Civita symbols, and when I calculate a term containing ...
5
votes
1answer
105 views

E&M and geometry - a historical perspective

Recently, I was contemplating the beautiful formulation of electromagnetism (specifically Maxwell's equations) in terms of differential forms: $$F=\mathrm{d} A\implies \mathrm{d}F=0 ...
4
votes
2answers
192 views

Difference between slanted indices on a tensor

In my class, there is no distinction made between, $$ C_{ab}{}^{b} $$ and $$ C^{b}{}_{ab}. $$ All I know, and read about so far, is the distinction of covariant and contravariant, form/vector, etc. ...
4
votes
5answers
459 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
948 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
78 views

Spatial and polarizing beam splitters in a graphical calculus

Suppose I have four wires, and I tensor product them together $A \otimes B \otimes C \otimes D$ I pass $A \otimes B$ through a spatial beam splitter $Spl: A \otimes B \rightarrow A^\prime \otimes ...
4
votes
1answer
82 views

Invariants of Connection Form

I am somewhat going out "on a limb" here, since I am much more grounded in the physics side of things than I am in mathematics. Nonetheless, I am wondering if someone is able to comment on the ...
4
votes
1answer
66 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
133 views

Relation between component and algebraic definition of covariant vectors

I studied contravariance and covariance concepts in following way: For any vector if we get its components by parallelogram way we achieve contravariant components, and if we want to get its ...
3
votes
2answers
169 views

Partial Differentiation of a Tensor

I have doubts in the statement that the partial or ordinary differentiation of tensor is not a tensor. The argument for this is that the partial differentiation of the tensor involves evaluating the ...
3
votes
2answers
120 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
1answer
104 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
172 views

Question on index notation and metric tensor

I found this expression in my SR notes: $$ (\Lambda^{-1})^{\lambda}_{\ \ \ \sigma} = g^{\lambda\mu}~\Lambda^{\rho}_{\ \ \ \mu} ~g_{\rho\sigma} = \Lambda_\sigma^{\ \ \ \lambda}$$ I know where it ...
3
votes
1answer
198 views

Sign crazyness on the stress energy tensor?

I would like to know on what depends the sign of the stress energy tensor in the following formula : $T_{\mu\nu}=\pm(\rho c^2+P)u_{\mu}u_{\nu} \pm P g_{\mu\nu}$ In my case the metric is equal to ...
3
votes
2answers
203 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
246 views

The signature of the metric and the definition of the electromagnetic tensor

I've read the definition of the electromagnetic field tensor to be ...
3
votes
2answers
464 views

What is the mathematical formulation for buckling?

Argument: Buckling is an engineering concept that can only be applied to thin columns with compressive loading. (Is it possible to) Prove the above sentence right or wrong with mathematical ...
3
votes
4answers
401 views

General relativity in terms of differential forms

Is there a formulation of general relativity in terms of differential forms instead of tensors with indexs and subindexs? If yes, where can I find it and what are the advantages of each method? If ...
3
votes
1answer
205 views

Riemann tensor notation and Christoffel symbol notation

In paper by Barnich and Brandt Covariant theory of asymptotic symmetries, conservation laws and central charges they defined the Riemann tensor like this: $$R_{\rho\mu\nu}^{\quad \ \ ...
3
votes
1answer
478 views

Derivation of the volume element (which uses the metric tensor)?

I have often seen $\sqrt{-g}$ in integrals, especially actions, where $g=\mathrm{det}(g_{\mu \nu})$. Does anyone know of a derivation that shows that this is indeed the volume element which must be ...
3
votes
1answer
31 views

Are the cylindrical and spherical form of Jeans' equations equivalent?

The question kind of says it all, what I really want to know is are the differences in their forms only due to the co-ordinate transform? And as such should a suitable spherical system satisfy ...
3
votes
1answer
55 views

Show that getting parallel transported does not change angle between them- Tensors [closed]

I must tell you that I have never seen this kind of question in Tensor Analysis. Our professor had set up this question in our exam, but I don't know whether it belongs to tensors or not. The question ...
3
votes
1answer
120 views

Epsilon Tensor in FeynCalc

A few days ago I started to use the Mathematica package FeynCalc and one thing confuses me: Assume we have a four-vector $p_\mu$ and we contract it with the epsilon tensor. FeynCalc produces ...
3
votes
1answer
178 views

Proper time along path in Minkowski Space

Consider the path $x^\mu(u)$ in Minkowski space; such that: $$t = \frac{a}{c} \sinh(u) , \quad x = a \cosh(u) ,\quad y = 0 ,\quad z = 0 $$ where $a$ is a positive constant and $u$ is a parameter ...
3
votes
0answers
88 views

Why is the $\theta$ term of QCD violating charge and parity (CP) symmetries?

From the non-trivial nature of the QCD vacuum, the Lagrangian is augmented with a term like \begin{equation} \theta \frac{g^2}{32 \pi^2} G_{\mu \nu}^a \tilde{G}^{a, \mu \nu} \end{equation} where $ ...
3
votes
0answers
360 views

I lost a factor of two in the electromagnetic field tensor

I apologize for this simple question, but I lost a factor of 2 and can't find it anymore, so now I'm looking on the internet, perhaps one of you has some information about its whereabouts. :-) ...
2
votes
4answers
168 views

Gradient is covariant or contravariant?

I read somewhere people write gradient in covariant form because of their proposes. I think gradient expanded in covariant basis $i$, $j$, $k$, so by invariance nature of vectors, component of ...