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Introduction to Tensors

Atta ur Rehman Shah PhD Student Advanced Composite Materials Lab. CHANGWON NATIONAL UNIVERSITY

First Impression
Here is the first definition of tensor found on page 11 of Synges Tensor Calculus.

This type of definition doesnt offer any understanding for a student who is initially trying to find out what a tensor is. The student will close the book and prefer to play a game on his mobile. Hence I will try to start from the simple concepts of scalars and vectors and guide towards Tensors.
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Pre-requisites
What are scalars and vectors? Scalars are just numbers (magnitude) e.g. Temperature, mass, density etc.

Vectors are numbers with one direction. e.g. Velocity, Force, Displacement

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Pre-requisites

A vector can be multiplied with a scalar to obtain another vector with same direction but different magnitude. A vector can be multiplied to another vector to obtain a scalar. (Dot product) A vector can be multiplied to another vector to obtain a vector perpendicular to the plane first two vectors. (Cross product) What if we want to change both magnitude and direction of a given vector? (Not perpendicular as in cross product)

We need another entity

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Introducing Tensors
Lets pause to introduce some terminology. We will rename the familiar quantities in the following way: Scalar: Tensor of rank 0. (magnitude only 1 component) Vector: Tensor of rank 1. (magnitude and one direction 3 components)

This terminology is suggestive. Why stop at rank 1? Why not go onto rank 2, rank 3, and so on. Dyad: Tensor of rank 2. (magnitude and two directions 32 = 9 components) Triad: Tensor of rank 3. (magnitude and three directions 33 = 27 components) Tensor of rank n. (magnitude and n-directions 3n components)

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Introducing Tensors
We will now merely state that:

if we form the inner product of a vector and a tensor of rank 2 (a dyad), the result will be another vector with both a new magnitude and a new direction. A tensor of rank 2 is defined as a system that has a magnitude and two directions associated with it. It has 9 components. For now, we will use an example from classical electrodynamics to illustrate the point just made.
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Introducing Tensors

The magnetic flux density B in volt-sec/m2 and the magnetization H in Amp/m are related through the permeability in H/m by the expression

B = H

For free space, is a scalar with value = 4 10-7 H/m. Thus, the flux density and the magnetization in free space differ in magnitude but not in direction. In some exotic materials, however, the component atoms or molecules have peculiar dipole properties that make these terms differ in both magnitude and direction.

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Introducing Tensors

In such materials, the scalar permeability is then replaced by the tensor permeability , and we write, in place of the previous equation:

B = H

The permeability is a tensor of rank 2. Remember that B and H are both vectors, but they now differ from one another in both magnitude and direction.
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Introducing Tensors

Another classical example of the use of tensors in physics is Stress in a material object.

dF = TdA

dF and dA are force and area respectively, both are vectors. Thus, the stress T in the equation must be either a scalar or a tensor. But there are two different types of stress: tensile stress and shear stress. (How can a single denominate number represent both?) We must conclude that stress is a tensor of rank 2 and that the force must be an inner product of stress and area.
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Introducing Tensors

In summary, notice that in the progression from single number to scalar to vector to tensor, etc., information is being added at every step. The complexity of the physical situation being modeled determines the rank of the tensor representation we must choose.

Their dyad product UV will be:

Notice that, by setting u1v1 = 11, u1v2 = 12, etc., this dyad can be rewritten as

Preliminary Mathematical Considerations

The scalar components ij can be arranged in the familiar configuration of a 3x3 matrix:

Just as a matrix is generally not equal to its transpose, so with dyads it is the case that the dyad product is not commutative.

Preliminary Mathematical Considerations

Using the known rules of matrix multiplication, we can, by extension, write the rules associated with dyad multiplication.

In matrices, the results of pre- and post-multiplication are usually different; i.e., matrix multiplication does not, in general, commute. So it the case of dyad product, it is not commutative. Let the scalar components of dyad M be represented by the 3 3 matrix [ij] i, j = 1, 2, 3; then for scalar ; M = [ij] = [ij] = M Similarly, the product of a dyad UV and a scalar is defined as (UV) = (U)V = (U)V = U(V) = U(V) = (UV).

Preliminary Mathematical Considerations

The inner product of a matrix M and a vector V

Let V (Vi) be a row vector with i = 1, 2, 3

Pre-multiplication of a vector,

Post-multiplication of a vector,

Hence

It is clear that

Tensors of Rank > 2

Tensors of rank 2 result from dyad products of vectors. n an entirely analogous way, tensors of rank 3 arise from triad products, UVW. tensors of rank n arise from n-ad products of vectors, UVW...AB. In three-dimensional space, the number of components in each of these systems is 3n. The rules governing these higher rank objects are defined in the same way as the rules developed above.
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Important Question

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Invariant Quantities

A quantity we can measure that do not depend upon our frame of reference is called an invariant. This condition must be met for a mathematical object to be a tensor. For example Temperature is a tensor but Distance is not a tensor. Although both are scalars. Similarly Displacement is a tensor but Position is not a tensor. Although both are vectors.
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Example
Displacement Vs Position Vector X 2 X 2

O Position Vector OP

X1

O Displacement vector OP

X1

OPOP PQ = PQ

Specific Statements for Tensors per se

We now extend the properties and rules of operation for familiar objects scalars, vectors, and matrices to tensors per se.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

All scalars are not tensors, although all tensors of rank 0 are scalars. All vectors are not tensors, although all tensors of rank 1 are vectors. All dyads or matrices are not tensors, although all tensors of rank 2 are dyads or matrices. Tensors can be multiplied by other tensors to form new tensors. The product of a tensor and a scalar (tensor of rank 0) is commutative. The pre-multiplication of a given tensor by another tensor produces a different result from post-multiplication; i.e., tensor multiplication in general is not commutative.

Specific Statements for Tensors per se

7.

The rank of a new tensor formed by the product of two other tensors is the sum of their individual ranks. The inner product of a tensor and a vector or of two tensors is not commutative. The rank of a new tensor formed by the inner product of two other tensors is the sum of their individual ranks minus 2. A tensor of rank n in three-dimensional space has 3n components.

8. 9.

10.

Re-examining Magnetic Permeability

Now we can see why the magnetic permeability must be a rank 2 tensor. We use the tensor form; B = H B and H are vectors (rank 1 tensors). Rank of B must be sum of their individual ranks of and H minus 2. 1 = x + 1 2 x = 2 (where x is the rank of ).
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Tensor Notations

Summation can be expressed very simply with tensor notations. For example:

Bs = t st Ht

Where scalar components of B are Bs, shown as sum of the products of and H. Summation is occurring over the repeated index, t. This representation has become the standard in the literature.
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Covariance and Contravariance

At any point P, we can specify three local axes and three local planes determined by these axes. In accordance with strict definitions, the axes must be mutually perpendicular and, by extension, so must the planes. Now, choose three unit vectors at P such that each vector is tangent to one of the axes. Such a triple is usually designated (i, j, k). V = i + j + k
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Covariance and Contravariance

Now suppose that we had chosen unit vectors perpendicular to each of the planes rather than tangent to each of the coordinate axes. Lets do so and call the resulting triple (i*, j*, k*). Again, any vector V at P can be written as: V = *i* + *j* + *k*

Covariance and Contravariance

Our representation is satisfactory provided we ensure that: i + j + k = *i* + *j* + *k* It is apparent from geometry that the two unit vector triples comprise the same set; i.e., that i = i* j = j* k = k*. Will This approach work in all cases?? NO
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Covariance and Contravariance

To understand why the answer is NO, lets modify our Cartesian system If the axes are no longer mutually orthogonal for example, so that they meet at 60. (i, j, k) and (i*, j*, k*) are now two different sets of unit vectors.

i and i* now meet at an angle of 60, as do j and j*, and k and k*. Now they specify different sets of directions.