# Questions tagged [covariance]

How a quantity behaves under a change of basis vectors. This tag covers relativistic covariance, as well as contravariant and covariant tensors not necessarily in the context of relativity. DO NOT USE THIS TAG for statistical covariance.

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### Why do we need coordinate-free descriptions?

I was reading a book on differential geometry in which it said that a problem early physicists such as Einstein faced was coordinates and they realized that physics does not obey man's coordinate ...
8answers
4k 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 ...
3answers
50k views

### Is time a Scalar or a Vector?

In Wikipedia it's said that time is a scalar quantity. But its hard to understand that how? As stated that we consider only the magnitude of time then its a scalar. But on basis of time we define ...
5answers
6k views

### What problems with Electromagnetism led Einstein to the Special Theory of Relativity?

I have often heard it said that several problems in the theory of electromagnetism as described by Maxwell's equations led Einstein to his theory of Special Relativity. What exactly were these ...
4answers
770 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 ...
3answers
658 views

### Why does the analogy between electromagnetism and general relativity differ if you consider them as gauge theories or fiber bundles?

Electromagnetism and general relativity can both be thought of as gauge theories, in which case there is a natural analogy between them: (Strictly speaking, the gauge symmetry of diffeomorphism ...
2answers
3k views

### Invariance, covariance and symmetry

Though often heard, often read, often felt being overused, I wonder what are the precise definitions of invariance and covariance. Could you please give me an example from quantum field theory?
2answers
13k views

### Galilean invariance of the Schrodinger equation

Is the Schrodinger equation invariant under Galilean transformations? I am only asking this question so that I can write an answer myself with the content found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
4answers
5k views

### Definitions and usage of Covariant, Form-invariant & Invariant?

Just wondering about the definitions and usage of these three terms. To my understanding so far, "covariant" and "form-invariant" are used when referring to physical laws, and these words are ...
2answers
821 views

### What exactly does it mean for a scalar function to be Lorentz invariant?

If I have a function $\ f(x)$, what does it mean for it to be Lorentz invariant? I believe it is that $\ f( \Lambda^{-1}x ) = f(x)$, but I think I'm missing something here. Furthermore, if $g(x,y)$ ...
2answers
3k views

### What does it mean to transform as a scalar or vector?

I'm working through an introductory electrodynamics text (Griffiths), and I encountered a pair of questions asking me to show that: the divergence transforms as a scalar under rotations the ...
2answers
1k views

### Do contravariant and covariant partial derivatives commute in GR?

I'm considering something like this: $\partial_{\mu}\partial^{\nu}A$ . I feel like we should be able to commute the derivatives so: $\partial_{\mu}\partial^{\nu}A = \partial^{\nu}\partial_{\mu}A$. ...
7answers
4k views

### What does the statement “the laws of physics are invariant” mean?

In the first paragraph of Wikipedia's article on special relativity, it states one of the assumptions of special relativity is the laws of physics are invariant (i.e., identical) in all inertial ...
7answers
554 views

### How can a set of components fail to make up a vector?

Many books in Physics insist to define vectors are objects with components with the property that the components transform in a proper way under a change of coordinates. Now, in mathematics, on the ...
1answer
451 views

### Do the interaction picture fields transform as free fields under boosts?

This post was originally written to ask about transformation properties of fields in the interaction picture of QFT under the Poincare transformations. Arnold Neumaier has pointed out that the ...
2answers
1k views

### Is Young's Modulus a Lorentz Scalar?

If a spring is at rest and lies along $X$ axis in a frame $O$ with a spring constant $k_{0}$ then its spring constant in a frame $O'$ which is moving with a speed $v$ at an angle $\theta$ with the $X$ ...
4answers
2k views

### Is partial derivative a vector or dual vector?

The textbook(Introduction to the Classical Theory of Particles and Fields, by Boris Kosyakov) defines a hypersurface by $$F(x)~=~c,$$ where $F\in C^\infty[\mathbb M_4,\mathbb R]$. Differentiating ...
4answers
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4answers
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### QFT: How would you explain to a mathematician what “transforms as” means?

I am taking an introductory course to quantum field theory. The lecturer goes on saying that some transforms as (represented by $\to$) . I tried to ask the lecturer, and he said that he means some ...
3answers
2k views

### How to show the spacetime interval is invariant in general?

I understand how to derive the spacetime interval being invariant for Minkowski space, but I've never seen any derivation of it in general curved spacetime. Is the invariance just derived for ...
2answers
670 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 ...
2answers
1k views

### Why the generators of boosts transform like a vector under rotation?

$$\left[J_i,J_j \right]=i\epsilon_{ijk}J_k$$ $$\left[J_i,M_j \right]=i\epsilon_{ijk}M_k$$ $$\left[M_i,M_j \right]=-i\epsilon_{ijk}J_k$$ where $J_i$ is the generator of rotation of Lorentz group, $M_i$ ...
1answer
6k views

### What is the Difference between Lorentz Invariant and Lorentz Covariant? [duplicate]

Like my title, I sometimes see that my books says something is Lorentz invariant or Lorentz covariant. What's the difference between these two transformation properties? Or are they just the same ...
3answers
843 views

### What is “a general covariant formulation of newtonian mechanics”?

I am a little confused: I read that there are general covariant formulations of Newtonian mechanics (e.g. here). I always thought: 1) A theory is covariant with respect to a group of transformations ...
6answers
2k 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 ...
2answers
236 views

### Varying the Einstein-Hilbert action without reference to a chart

In most treatments of General Relativity, when the the Einstein-Hilbert action over some manifold $\mathcal{M}$ (plus Gibbons-Hawking-York term if $\mathcal{M}$ has a boundary), given by S=\frac{1}{...
1answer
266 views

### Is the distinction between covariant and contravariant objects purely for the convenience of mathematical manipulation?

Two kinds of indices, covariant and contravariant, are introduced in special relativity. This, as far as I understand, is solely for mathematical luxury, i.e. write expressions in a concise, self-...
2answers
613 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?
2answers
714 views

### General covariance from the equivalence principle

Einstein's equivalence principle (EEP) tells us that there is no way in principle to locally distinguish between inertial acceleration and the effects of a gravitational field by carrying out any non-...
1answer
237 views

### Canonical second quantization vs canonical quantization with multisymplectic form in AQFT

First of all, I'm a mathematician that knows less than the basics of QFT, so forgive me if this question is trivial. Please, keep in my mind that my background in physics is very poor. 1) The usual ...
2answers
2k views

### Why is the “canonical momentum” for the Dirac equation not defined in terms of the “gauge covariant derivative”?

The canonical momentum is always used to add an EM field to the Schrödinger/Pauli/Dirac equations. Why does one not use the gauge covariant derivative? As far as I can see, the difference is a factor <...
1answer
962 views

### Are diffeomorphisms a proper subgroup of conformal transformations?

The title sums it pretty much. Are all diffeomorphism transformations also conformal transformations? If the answer is that they are not, what are called the set of diffeomorphisms that are not ...
2answers
390 views

### What's the basic premise of General Relativity?

What is the basic assumption(s) required to explore general relativity? For example, if one merely assumes that the speed of light $c$ is the same for all observers, and the laws of physics are the ...
3answers
341 views

### What is the purpose of emphasizing that an action is invariant under diffeomorphism?

When learning field theory and string theory, I always see physicists stress the fact that the action, which is an integral of the Lagrangian density $S(x)=\int L(x,\dot{x})dt$, is invariant under ...