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There are two theorems that I would like to emphasize for Exam 2. The first one says that the curl of any gradient is the zero vector and the second one that the divergence of any curl is zero, but first lets review some definitions.

Let F

F 1 (x, y, z)i + F 2 (x, y, z)j + F 3 (x, y, z)k.

be a C 2 vector field on R 3 , that is a C 2 function F

: R 3 R 3 .

Definition 1. The divergence of F = F 1 i + F 2 j + F 3 k is defined by

divF = F ∂x 1

+ ∂F 2 ∂y

+ ∂F 3 ∂z .

We can write F

as F (x, y, z ) =

(1)

Note that for any point (x 0 , y 0 , z 0 ), divF (x 0 , y 0 , z 0 ) = F 1 (x 0 , y 0 , z 0 ) + F 2 (x 0 , y 0 , z 0 ) + F 3 (x 0 , y 0 , z 0 ) is

∂x

∂y

∂z

a real number. Intuitively, if we think as a vector field describing the flow of a fluid then the divergence represents the rate of expansion per unit volume, in other words, the divergence measures the magnitude of a vector field’s source or sink at a given point.

Definition 2. The curl of F = F 1 i + F 2 j + F 3 k is the vector field

curlF = ( F ∂y 3

∂F 2 ∂z

)i + ( F ∂z 1

∂F 3 ∂x

)j + ( F ∂x 2

∂F 1 ∂y

)k

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Note that for any point (x 0 , y 0 , z 0 ), curlF (x 0 , y 0 , z 0 ) is a vector in R 3 . Intuitively, the curl tells us how much a vector field curls around a point and if it does curl around, in what direction it is curling.

Theorem 1 For any C 2 function f : R R 3 , curl(f ) = (0, 0, 0).

You should be able to use this theorem, for example, to determine if a vector field is the gradient of some function:

Example. Show that the vector field V (x, y, z) = yi xj is not the gradient of a function.

Solution: If V were the gradient field of a function then it would satisfy curlV = (0, 0, 0) by the above theorem. However, if we compute the curl of V we obtain curlV = 2k which is not equal to (0, 0, 0). Thus V cannot be the gradient of a function.

You should also be able to apply the following theorem which says that the divergence of any curl is zero.

Theorem 2 For any C 2 vector field F we have that div(curl F ) = 0.

This theorem can be used to determine if a vector field is the curl of another vector field:

Example.

Show that the vector field V (x, y, z) =

xi + yj + zk

cannot be the curl of some vector

field.

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Solution: If this were so, then divV = 0 by the above theorem. However, if we compute the diver- gence of V we obtain divV = 3 which is not equal to 0. Thus, the vector field V cannot be the curl of another vector field.

For Exam 2 you should also review all the problems in Homework 4 corresponding to these topics. We will go over these in class on Monday November 4.

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