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Category# Tensor analysis

Summary

In mathematics, a tensor is an algebraic object that describes a multilinear relationship between sets of algebraic objects related to a vector space. Tensors may map between different objects such as vectors, scalars, and even other tensors. There are many types of tensors, including scalars and vectors (which are the simplest tensors), dual vectors, multilinear maps between vector spaces, and even some operations such as the dot product. Tensors are defined independent of any basis, although they are often referred to by their components in a basis related to a particular coordinate system; those components form an array, which can be thought of as a high-dimensional matrix.
Tensors have become important in physics because they provide a concise mathematical framework for formulating and solving physics problems in areas such as mechanics (stress, elasticity, fluid mechanics, moment of inertia, ...), electrodynamics (electromagnetic tensor, Maxwell tensor, permittivity, magnetic susceptibility, ...), general relativity (stress–energy tensor, curvature tensor, ...) and others. In applications, it is common to study situations in which a different tensor can occur at each point of an object; for example the stress within an object may vary from one location to another. This leads to the concept of a tensor field. In some areas, tensor fields are so ubiquitous that they are often simply called "tensors".
Tullio Levi-Civita and Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro popularised tensors in 1900 – continuing the earlier work of Bernhard Riemann, Elwin Bruno Christoffel, and others – as part of the absolute differential calculus. The concept enabled an alternative formulation of the intrinsic differential geometry of a manifold in the form of the Riemann curvature tensor.
Although seemingly different, the various approaches to defining tensors describe the same geometric concept using different language and at different levels of abstraction.
A tensor may be represented as an (potentially multidimensional) array.

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Outer product

In linear algebra, the outer product of two coordinate vectors is the matrix whose entries are all products of an element in the first vector with an element in the second vector. If the two coordinate vectors have dimensions n and m, then their outer product is an n × m matrix. More generally, given two tensors (multidimensional arrays of numbers), their outer product is a tensor. The outer product of tensors is also referred to as their tensor product, and can be used to define the tensor algebra.

Voigt notation

In mathematics, Voigt notation or Voigt form in multilinear algebra is a way to represent a symmetric tensor by reducing its order. There are a few variants and associated names for this idea: Mandel notation, Mandel–Voigt notation and Nye notation are others found. Kelvin notation is a revival by Helbig of old ideas of Lord Kelvin. The differences here lie in certain weights attached to the selected entries of the tensor. Nomenclature may vary according to what is traditional in the field of application.

Cross product

In mathematics, the cross product or vector product (occasionally directed area product, to emphasize its geometric significance) is a binary operation on two vectors in a three-dimensional oriented Euclidean vector space (named here ), and is denoted by the symbol . Given two linearly independent vectors a and b, the cross product, a × b (read "a cross b"), is a vector that is perpendicular to both a and b, and thus normal to the plane containing them. It has many applications in mathematics, physics, engineering, and computer programming.

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