The Gradient Operator, Covariant Differentiation, and the Divergence Theorem

  • James G. Simmonds
Part of the Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics book series (UTM)


Suppose that you had a topographical map of a piece of land and wanted to indicate at a spot P on the map the slope m of the land in a direction t. This could be done by drawing a vector m t from P, as indicated in Fig. 4.1. Obviously, if the terrain is smooth but not level, there is one direction from P in which the slope is a maximum. This is called the direction of steepest ascent.1 The associated vector is called the gradient of the elevation at P. If you draw a contour line through P, you will realize that the gradient at P must be ⊥ to this contour.


Covariant Derivative Tensor Field Gradient Operator Divergence Theorem Component Form 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • James G. Simmonds
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science Thornton HallUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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