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Matrix and Index Notation

David Roylance
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA 02139
September 18, 2000
A vector can be described by listing its components along the xyz cartesian axes; for in-
stance the displacement vector u can be denoted as u
x
, u
y
, u
z
, using letter subscripts to indicate
the individual components. The subscripts can employ numerical indices as well, with 1, 2,
and 3 indicating the x, y, and z directions; the displacement vector can therefore be written
equivalently as u
1
, u
2
, u
3
.
A common and useful shorthand is simply to write the displacement vector as u
i
, where the
i subscript is an index that is assumed to range over 1,2,3 ( or simply 1 and 2 if the problem is
a two-dimensional one). This is called the range convention for index notation. Using the range
convention, the vector equation u
i
= a implies three separate scalar equations:
u
1
= a
u
2
= a
u
3
= a
We will often nd it convenient to denote a vector by listing its components in a vertical list
enclosed in braces, and this form will help us keep track of matrix-vector multiplications a bit
more easily. We therefore have the following equivalent forms of vector notation:
u = u
i
=
_

_
u
1
u
2
u
3
_

_
=
_

_
u
x
u
y
u
z
_

_
Second-rank quantities such as stress, strain, moment of inertia, and curvature can be de-
noted as 33 matrix arrays; for instance the stress can be written using numerical indices as
[] =
_

11

12

13

21

22

23

31

32

33
_

_
Here the rst subscript index denotes the row and the second the column. The indices also have
a physical meaning, for instance
23
indicates the stress on the 2 face (the plane whose normal
is in the 2, or y, direction) and acting in the 3, or z, direction. To help distinguish them, well
use brackets for second-rank tensors and braces for vectors.
Using the range convention for index notation, the stress can also be written as
ij
, where
both the i and the j range from 1 to 3; this gives the nine components listed explicitly above.
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(Since the stress matrix is symmetric, i.e.
ij
=
ji
, only six of these nine components are
independent.)
A subscript that is repeated in a given term is understood to imply summation over the range
of the repeated subscript; this is the summation convention for index notation. For instance, to
indicate the sum of the diagonal elements of the stress matrix we can write:

kk
=
3

k=1

kk
=
11
+
22
+
33
The multiplication rule for matrices can be stated formally by taking A = (a
ij
) to be an
(M N) matrix and B = (b
ij
) to be an (R P) matrix. The matrix product AB is dened
only when R = N, and is the (M P) matrix C = (c
ij
) given by
c
ij
=
N

k=1
a
ik
b
kj
= a
i1
b
1j
+ a
i2
b
2j
+ + a
iN
b
Nk
Using the summation convention, this can be written simply
c
ij
= a
ik
b
kj
where the summation is understood to be over the repeated index k. In the case of a 3 3
matrix multiplying a 3 1 column vector we have
_

_
a
11
a
12
a
13
a
21
a
22
a
23
a
31
a
32
a
33
_

_
_

_
b
1
b
2
b
3
_

_
=
_

_
a
11
b
1
+ a
12
b
2
+ a
13
b
3
a
21
b
1
+ a
22
b
2
+ a
23
b
3
a
31
b
1
+ a
32
b
2
+ a
33
b
3
_

_
= a
ij
b
j
The comma convention uses a subscript comma to imply dierentiation with respect to the
variable following, so f
,2
= f/y and u
i,j
= u
i
/x
j
. For instance, the expression
ij,j
= 0
uses all of the three previously dened index conventions: range on i, sum on j, and dierentiate:

xx
x
+

xy
y
+

xz
z
= 0

yx
x
+

yy
y
+

yz
z
= 0

zx
x
+

zy
y
+

zz
z
= 0
The Kroenecker delta is a useful entity is dened as

ij
=
_
0, i = j
1, i = j
This is the index form of the unit matrix I:

ij
= I =
_

_
1 0 0
0 1 0
0 0 1
_

_
So, for instance
2

kk

ij
=
_

kk
0 0
0
kk
0
0 0
kk
_

_
where
kk
=
11
+
22
+
33
.
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