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Concept# Stokes' theorem

Summary

Stokes' theorem, also known as the Kelvin–Stokes theorem after Lord Kelvin and George Stokes, the fundamental theorem for curls or simply the curl theorem, is a theorem in vector calculus on . Given a vector field, the theorem relates the integral of the curl of the vector field over some surface, to the line integral of the vector field around the boundary of the surface. The classical theorem of Stokes can be stated in one sentence: The line integral of a vector field over a loop is equal to the flux of its curl through the enclosed surface. It is illustrated in the figure, where the direction of positive circulation of the bounding contour ∂Σ, and the direction n of positive flux through the surface Σ, are related by a right-hand-rule. For the right hand the fingers circulate along ∂Σ and the thumb is directed along n.
Stokes' theorem is a special case of the generalized Stokes theorem. In particular, a vector field on can be considered as a 1-form in which case its curl is its exterior derivative, a 2-form.
Let be a smooth oriented surface in with boundary . If a vector field is defined and has continuous first order partial derivatives in a region containing , then
More explicitly, the equality says that
The main challenge in a precise statement of Stokes' theorem is in defining the notion of a boundary. Surfaces such as the Koch snowflake, for example, are well-known not to exhibit a Riemann-integrable boundary, and the notion of surface measure in Lebesgue theory cannot be defined for a non-Lipschitz surface. One (advanced) technique is to pass to a weak formulation and then apply the machinery of geometric measure theory; for that approach see the coarea formula. In this article, we instead use a more elementary definition, based on the fact that a boundary can be discerned for full-dimensional subsets of .
A more detailed statement will be given for subsequent discussions.
Let be a piecewise smooth Jordan plane curve. The Jordan curve theorem implies that divides into two components, a compact one and another that is non-compact.

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