I'm reading Landau / Liftshitz vol. 6 on fluid mechanics, and I encountered the expression (page 45, top):

$$\frac{\partial v_i}{\partial x_k} + \frac{\partial v_k}{\partial x_i}.$$

The expression above is referred to as a sum - hence the Einstein notation - and that got me thinking: Do I sum over both i and k, as

$$\sum_i \sum_k\left( \frac{\partial v_i}{\partial x_k} + \frac{\partial v_k}{\partial x_i} \right)$$

giving $9\cdot 2 = 18$ terms (in 3D)? I only ever encountered the summation convention in products before, but I guess both indices are repeated.

Thanks in advance


I guess it calls for more context - thanks for ideas. It comes up when he's trying to deduce the form of the viscous stress tensor $\sigma_{ik}'$. Based on uniform rotation ($\vec{v} = \vec{\Omega} \times \vec{r}$) and linearity he concludes that only special linear combinations like the one i'm asking about can occur (so that when $\vec{v} = \vec{\Omega} \times \vec{r} \rightarrow \sigma_{ik}'=0$). He then concludes that the most general form of $\sigma_{ik}$ is:

$$\sigma_{ik}' = \eta \left( \frac{\partial v_i}{\partial x_k} + \frac{\partial v_k}{\partial x_i} - \frac{2}{3} \delta_{ik} \frac{\partial v_l}{\partial x_l} \right) + \zeta \delta_{ik} \frac{\partial v_l}{\partial x_l}$$

I couldn't really see how he concluded that last expression. I thought the clue might lie in the expression I first asked about, but it might be something else I'm missing.

  • $\begingroup$ I haven’t got L&L but is is very unusual to assume non-repeated indices are summed over. Usually one adds the summation symbol explicitly. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 16:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, it literally is a sum of two terms. Are you sure L&L mean something more complicated? $\endgroup$
    – Anyon
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ Can you give more context? Often you can infer from the context whether that object should still have indices or not. $\endgroup$
    – noah
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 16:57
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    $\begingroup$ Einstein summation only occurs when an index appears twice in the same term. $\endgroup$
    – G. Smith
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ It's the Strain Rate Tensor. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – user288901
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


Your formula for $\sigma_{ik}$ is $9$ equations, not one. If you set $k=i$, you sum over the now repeated $i$, obtaining the trace of $\sigma$. But if you sum the $9$ equations, you get something that isn't invariant under arbitrary linear coordinate transformations (the sum of entries of a matrix, even if square, is coordinate-dependent). This is why we don't sum over an index unless it's repeated per term ($A_i+B_i$ doesn't "repeat" $i$ in this sense).


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