# Questions tagged [tensor-calculus]

Tensor calculus (tensor analysis) is a systematic extension of vector calculus to multivector and tensor fields in a form that is independent of the choice of coordinates on the relevant manifold, but which accounts for respective sub-spaces, their symmetries, and their connections.

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### What is a tensor?

I have a pretty good knowledge of physics, but couldn't deeply understand what a tensor is and why it is so fundamental.
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### 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 ...
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### Mathematically, what is color charge?

A similar question was asked here, but the answer didn't address the following, at least not in a way that I could understand. Electric charge is simple - it's just a real scalar quantity. Ignoring ...
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### 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 ...
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### How to understand the definition of vector and tensor?

Physics texts like to define vector as something that transform like a vector and tensor as something that transform like a tensor, which is different from the definition in math books. I am having ...
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### 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 ...
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### Square bracket notation for anti-symmetric part of a tensor

I know that $A_{[a} B_{b]} = \frac{1}{2!}(A_{a}B_{b} - A_{b}B_{a})$ But how can write $E_{[a} F_{bc]}$ like the above? Can you provide a reference where this notational matter is discussed?
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### Expanding electromagnetic field Lagrangian in terms of gauge field

The electromagnetic field tensor is given by $F_{\mu \nu} = \partial_{\mu}A_{\nu} - \partial_{\nu}A_{\mu}$, and it appears in the Lagrangian as $$L = -\frac{1}{4}F_{\mu\nu}^2 - A_{\mu}J_{\mu}.$$ ...
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### Introduction to spinors in physics, and their relation to representations

First, I shall say that I am familiar with the intuitive idea that a spinor is like a vector (or tensor) that only transforms "up to a sign" when acted on by the rotation group. I have even rotated a ...
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### 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} \...
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### Understanding the difference between co- and contra-variant vectors

I am looking at the 4-vector treatment of special relativity, but I have had no formal training in Tensor algebra and thus am having difficulty understanding some of the concepts which appear. One ...
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### Symmetry in terms of matrices

When we encounter a problem in physics which can be expressed in terms of matrices or tensors, why do we decompose the tensor in terms of its symmetric and antisymmetric or trace components? What is ...
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### Working with indices of tensors in special relativity

I'm trying to understand tensor notation and working with indices in special relativity. I use a book for this purpose in which $\eta_{\mu\nu}=\eta^{\mu\nu}$ is used for the metric tensor and a vector ...
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### 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 ${\bf{J}} _{\Omega}$? ...
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How are exactly $u_j\partial_ju_i$ and $u_i\partial_j u_i$ related? And what is their relation to ($\boldsymbol{u}\cdot\nabla)\boldsymbol{u}$ and $\boldsymbol{u}\cdot(\nabla\boldsymbol{u})$ ? I ask ...
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### 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 ...
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### The Spin Connection

Why do we need to introduce the spin connection coefficients $\omega_{\mu \space \space b}^{\space \space a}$ in General Relativity? To me, they just look (mathematically) like the Christoffel ...
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### Symmetry of the $3\times 3$ Cauchy Stress Tensor

When presenting the stress tensor (say in a non-relativistic context), it is shown to be a tensor in the sense that it is a linear vector transformation: it operates on a vector $n$ (the normal to a ...
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### How to visualize the gradient as a one-form?

I am reading Sean Carrol's book on General Relativity, and I just finished reading the proof that the gradient is a covariant vector or a one-form, but I am having a difficult time visualizing this. I ...
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### Is there a physical interpretation of a tensor as a vector with additional qualities?

What is a tensor? has been asked before, with the most highly up-voted answer defining a tensor of rank $k$ as a vector of a tensor of rank $k-1$. But if a scalar is defined as a physical quantity ...
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### 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): ...
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### Is force a contravariant vector or a covariant vector (or either)?

I don't understand whether something physical, like velocity for example, has a single correct classification as either a contravariant vector or a covariant vector. I have seen texts indicate that ...
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### 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?
Any rank 2 tensor would do the same trick, right? Then, which is the motivation for choosing the metric one? Also, if you help me to prove that $g^{kp}g_{ip}=\delta^k_i$, I would be thankful too ^^...