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Unit 1-Mathematical methods in physics

Reference for module vectors and coordinate systems


1) Introduction to electrodynamics: Third edition by D J Griffiths
Chapter 1 : Good source for problems and basic introduction
2) Mathematical methods for Physicists by Arfken and Weber 6th edition
Chapter 1 and 2 Good reference for theory
3) Mathematical Methods in the physical sciences, Mary L Boas
4) Advanced engineering mathematics by Erwin Kreyszig 8th edition
Chapter 8 and 9

Temperature in the room

T x , y , z

Height of mountain Z(x,y)

Real physical quantities: depends on (x,y,z)


their variation is different in different directions
(other examples: Electric potential,
gravitational potential etc.)
How to calculate this rate of change in different directions?
Directional derivatives

The laws of Nature are but the mathematical thoughts of God.


Euclid
The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of
mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a
wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.
E.P. Wigner (Nobel prize in 1963)

One factor that has remained constant through all the twists and
turns of the history of physics is the decisive importance of the
mathematical imagination.
Freeman Dyson
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Review of derivatives with single variable

f x xf x
df
f x=
= lim
d x x 0
x
'

Geometrical interpretation:

Slope of the curve at a given point

x0

Differential:

d f x
d f x=
dx
dx
Approximate change in

f x

when x changes from

x x

Partial derivatives:

f
x

x 0,

f x 0 x , y 0 f x 0 , y 0
= lim
x
x0
y
0

vary only x

x 0 x 0 x
value of

y= y 0

Partial derivative of

Partial
remains constant

f x , y w.r.t. x
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Partial derivative of

f
y

x 0,

f x , y w.r.t. x

f x 0 , y 0 yf x 0 , y 0
= lim
y
y0
y
0

vary only y

y 0 y 0 y
value of

x=x 0

Partial derivative of

Partial

remains constant

f x , y w.r.t. y
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How to compute the partial derivatives?

f
=f x =?
x
1) Keep x as a variable and y as a constant
2) Treat the function as a single variable of x
3) Do the differentiation w.r.t. x

f
=f y =?
y
1) Keep y as a variable and x as a constant
2) Treat the function as a single variable of y
3) Do the differentiation w.r.t. x

f x , y =Z=9x y

Find partial derivatives at (1,2)

Geometrical interpretation:

http://moodle.capilanou.ca/mod/book/view.php?id=328667&chapterid=1398
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f x , y =Z=9x y

Geometrical meaning of derivative of function at (a, b) ?


Let us keep y=2 (x-z plane)
2

f x , 2=Z =9x 2

2
10

f x=Z=5x

inverted parabola in the X-Z plane

Now find the derivative (partial) of this function at a given x


Let x=1

f
x

=2xx=1=2

1,2

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Now keep x constant


Let x=1

f 1, y=Z=8 y

inverted parabola in the Y-Z plane


Now find the derivative (partial) of this function at a
given y
Let that y=2

g
y

1,2

=2yy=2=4
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Differential for a single variable:

d f x
d f x=
dx
dx

Total differential for two variables:

f
f
df=
dx
dy
x
y
This way you can extend to any dimensions
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Rate of change depends upon the DIRECTION

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How to calculate the directional derivatives?

f r r f r
df
= lim
d s s 0
s
f
= lim
s 0 s

s= r
s= x y z

We need to get an expression for

df
ds
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f
f
f
df=
dx
dy
dz
x
y
z
d r =[ ex dxey dy ez dz ]
ex , ey , ez

: Unit vectors

f
f
f
= ex
ey
ez
[ ex dx ey dyez dz ]
x
y
z

fd r
df =
16

fd r
df =
d r =[ ex dxey dy ez dz ]

f
f
f

f = ex
ey
ez
x
y
z

: Gradient of a scalar function


VECTOR quantity
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f f f

f= i
j
k
x
y
z

f= i
j
k
x
y
z

= i
j
k
x
y
z

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= i
j
k
x
y
z

Del operator or nabla operator


Operator: carries an instruction
acts on a function

acts on a scalar function

Example:

V
=
E

vector function

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Find the gradient of

f x , y , z=r= x y z

f
f
f

f = ex
ey
ez
x
y
z

f
x
=
x x 2 y 2z 2
Similarly calculate other derivatives and put that in the expression
for gradient

x ex y ey z ez r

f=
=
=
r
2
2
2
x y z r
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Gradient of a function

f x , y , z=r= x y z
2

x
Circles correspond to the contour. Notice that gradient direction
is normal to the contour line (circle)

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fd r
df =

fd r cos
df =

d r =[ ex dxey dy ez dz ]

f
f
f

f = ex
ey
ez
x
y
z

ds=d r
fds cos
df =
df
fcos
=
ds
22

df
fcos
=
ds
df
= fu
ds
Component of

in the direction

u :

Unit vector along


the direction of
displacement

give the directional derivative of f in that direction

fd r cos
df =
23

df
fcos
=
ds
df
ds

maximum when

=0

Rate of change is maximum


if the

d r

points along the gradient direction

Direction of GRADIENT points along the maximum rate of change

df
f
=
ds

=0

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Magnitude of gradient: rate of change of the function along the maximal
direction

Geometrical interpretation of GRADIENT:


If you fix d
r and look around all angles,
i) Find the direction of steepest descent
ii) That will be the direction of the gradient

direction you will


fall if you lose
your feet !!

Imagine water-drops at this point,


drops will flow along the direction of gradient

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With ordinary vectors we define three operations:


1) Multiplication with a scalar:

a
A

2) Multiplication of two vectors

A
B

Dot product giving a scalar

cross product giving a vector

Correspondingly we have three ways the operator


1) On a scalar function
2) on a vector function

:
A : A
A : A

gradient
via the dot product DIVERGENCE
via the cross product CURL

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How to calculate the directional derivatives?

f r r f r
df
= lim
d s s 0
s

df
= fu
ds
Gradient of a scalar function:
will give
A vector whose component along u
rate of change along that particular direction
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Gradient in Cartesian form:

f
f
f

f = ex
ey
ez
x
y
z

= i
j
k
x
y
z

Del operator or nabla operator

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Geometrical interpretation of GRADIENT:


If you fix d
r and look around all angles,
i) Find the direction of steepest descent
ii) That will be the direction of the gradient

direction you will


fall if you lose
your feet !!

Imagine water-drops at this point,


drops will flow along the direction of gradient

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Exercise 1:
Given function

f =x y z4xyz

Find the rate of change of this function at (1,3,1) in


the direction 2 e

ey 2 ez .

Exercise 1:
Temperature distribution is given by
2

T =x y xyz273
I) In which direction the temperature increasing most rapidly
At (-1, 2, 3)?
ii) What is the max. rate of increase at this point?
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f x , y =z=x y

Paraboloid

How does the gradient this of this function look like?


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x y
f x , y=z=
2

f =r

The minimum of
the function is
located
at the origin
Gradient graph: Minimum of f(x,y) corresponds to point where arrows are
pointing away
If we move along radial direction of f(x,y), you will see the maximum
rate of change (i.e. along the direction of gradient)

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Level surface:

f x , y , z=const.
df =0
f
f
f
dx
dy
dz=0
x
y
z

fd r =0

is perpendicular to the level surface

Heat flow: perpendicular to surfaces with constant temperature (ISOTHERMAL)


Electric field of a point charge: perpendicular to the equipotential surface
(radial)
(spherical)

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Divergence
V x V y V z

V =

x
y
y
Divergence of radial vector

V x =V x x , y , z
V y =V y x , y , z
V z =V z x , y , z

r =3

=x x y y
F
F
=2

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Positive divergence

Positive divergence

Zero divergence

Negative divergence

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Positive divergence
(diverging)

Presence of Source

Negative divergence
(converging)

Presence of Sink
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Physical meaning of divergence

v x , y , z

: Velocity of a compressible fluid


: density of the fluid

x , y , z ,t

dV =dx dy dz

H
x D

C
x

J = v

z
F

E
2

[ J ]=ML T

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Rate of inward flow of the fluid through ABCD (along Y-axis)

=[ v y ] y x z
0

Rate of outward flow of the fluid through EFGH (along Y-axis)

= [ v y ] y y x z
0

(other components

vx , vz

Net flow along Y-direction

have no contribution in this direction)

= [ v y ] y y [ v y ] y x z
0

[v ]

y y 0 y

[ v y ] y

xz y
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Net flow along Y-direction

[v ]

y y 0 y

[ v y ] y

[v ]

y y 0 y

Net flow along x-direction

Net flow along Z-direction

[ v y ] y

[ J y ] y y [ J y ] y

[ J x ] x x [ J x ] x
0

[ J z ] z x [ J z ] z
z

x
0

xz y

V
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Total outward flow

[ J x ] x x [ J x ] x
0

[ J y ] y y [ J y ] y
0

x
y
[ J z ] z y [ J z ] z

V
z
0

Total outward flow /

[ J x ] x x [ J x ] x
0

[ J y ] y y [ J y ] y
0

[ J z ] z y [ J z ] z
0

y
0

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z0

x0 y0
z
B

H
x D

C
x

reduces to a POINT

F
y

Total outward flow /

V
=

[ J x ] x x [ J x ] x
0

[ J y ] y y [ J y ] y
0

x
y
[ J z ] z y [ J z ] z

V
z
0

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lim x 0

[ J x ] x x [ J x ] x
0

Jx
=
x

Net outward flow per unit volume evaluated at a point

Jx J y Jz
=

x y
z
J
=
DIVERGENCE: Net outward flow per unit volume evaluated
at a point
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THE CURL

x , y , z =V x ex V y ey V z ez
V

V x =V x x , y , z
V y =V y x , y , z

V =
x
Vx

y
Vy

z
Vz

V z =V z x , y , z

f V =f
V
f V

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v = x ex y ey

v =0

v = y ex x ey

v =2 e

z
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Show that

f V =f
V
f V

Curl of central force field

r f r=f r r[

f r ]r

r=
x
x

y
y

=0
z
z

Using the relation f r= r


r
f

We get
f rr =
r r =0
r

r f r =0

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