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Concept# Exterior derivative

Summary

On a differentiable manifold, the exterior derivative extends the concept of the differential of a function to differential forms of higher degree. The exterior derivative was first described in its current form by Élie Cartan in 1899. The resulting calculus, known as exterior calculus, allows for a natural, metric-independent generalization of Stokes' theorem, Gauss's theorem, and Green's theorem from vector calculus.
If a differential k-form is thought of as measuring the flux through an infinitesimal k-parallelotope at each point of the manifold, then its exterior derivative can be thought of as measuring the net flux through the boundary of a (k + 1)-parallelotope at each point.
The exterior derivative of a differential form of degree k (also differential k-form, or just k-form for brevity here) is a differential form of degree k + 1.
If f is a smooth function (a 0-form), then the exterior derivative of f is the differential of f . That is, df is the unique 1-form such that for every smooth vector field X, df (X) = dX f , where dX f is the directional derivative of f in the direction of X.
The exterior product of differential forms (denoted with the same symbol ∧) is defined as their pointwise exterior product.
There are a variety of equivalent definitions of the exterior derivative of a general k-form.
The exterior derivative is defined to be the unique R-linear mapping from k-forms to (k + 1)-forms that has the following properties:
df is the differential of f for a 0-form f .
d(df ) = 0 for a 0-form f .
d(α ∧ β) = dα ∧ β + (−1)^p (α ∧ dβ) where α is a p-form. That is to say, d is an antiderivation of degree 1 on the exterior algebra of differential forms (see the graded product rule).
The second defining property holds in more generality: d(dα) = 0 for any k-form α; more succinctly, d^2 = 0. The third defining property implies as a special case that if f is a function and α is a k-form, then d( fα) = d( f ∧ α) = df ∧ α + f ∧ dα because a function is a 0-form, and scalar multiplication and the exterior product are equivalent when one of the arguments is a scalar.

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Differential form

In mathematics, differential forms provide a unified approach to define integrands over curves, surfaces, solids, and higher-dimensional manifolds. The modern notion of differential forms was pioneered by Élie Cartan. It has many applications, especially in geometry, topology and physics. For instance, the expression f(x) dx is an example of a 1-form, and can be integrated over an interval [a, b] contained in the domain of f: Similarly, the expression f(x, y, z) dx ∧ dy + g(x, y, z) dz ∧ dx + h(x, y, z) dy ∧ dz is a 2-form that can be integrated over a surface S: The symbol ∧ denotes the exterior product, sometimes called the wedge product, of two differential forms.

Differentiable manifold

In mathematics, a differentiable manifold (also differential manifold) is a type of manifold that is locally similar enough to a vector space to allow one to apply calculus. Any manifold can be described by a collection of charts (atlas). One may then apply ideas from calculus while working within the individual charts, since each chart lies within a vector space to which the usual rules of calculus apply. If the charts are suitably compatible (namely, the transition from one chart to another is differentiable), then computations done in one chart are valid in any other differentiable chart.

Partial derivative

In mathematics, a partial derivative of a function of several variables is its derivative with respect to one of those variables, with the others held constant (as opposed to the total derivative, in which all variables are allowed to vary). Partial derivatives are used in vector calculus and differential geometry. The partial derivative of a function with respect to the variable is variously denoted by It can be thought of as the rate of change of the function in the -direction.

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