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## Main article: Curvilinear coordinates

Curvilinear coordinates can be formulated in tensor calculus, with important applications in physics and engineering, particularly for describing
transportation of physical quantities and deformation of matter in fluid mechanics and continuum mechanics.

## 1 Vector and tensor algebra in three-dimensional curvilinear coordinates

1.1 Vectors in curvilinear coordinates
1.2 Second-order tensors in curvilinear coordinates
1.2.1 Metric tensor and relations between components
1.3 The alternating tensor
1.4 Vector operations
1.5 Tensor operations
1.6 Relations between curvilinear and Cartesian basis vectors
2 Vector and tensor calculus in three-dimensional curvilinear coordinates
2.1 Basic definitions
2.2 Tangent vector to coordinate curves
2.3.1 Scalar field
2.3.2 Vector field
2.3.3 Christoffel symbols of the first kind
2.3.4 Christoffel symbols of the second kind
2.3.5 Explicit expression for the gradient of a vector field
2.3.6 Representing a physical vector field
2.4 Second-order tensor field
2.4.1 Explicit expressions for the gradient
2.4.2 Representing a physical second-order tensor field
2.5 Divergence
2.5.1 Vector field
2.5.2 Second-order tensor field
2.6 Laplacian
2.6.1 Scalar field

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## 2.7 Curl of a vector field

3 Orthogonal curvilinear coordinates
3.1 Metric tensor in orthogonal curvilinear coordinates
3.1.1 Example: Polar coordinates
3.2 Line and surface integrals
3.2.1 Line integrals
3.2.2 Surface integrals
4 Example: Cylindrical polar coordinates
4.1 Representing a physical vector field
4.2 Gradient of a scalar field
4.3 Gradient of a vector field
4.4 Divergence of a vector field
4.5 Laplacian of a scalar field
4.6 Representing a physical second-order tensor field
4.7 Gradient of a second-order tensor field
4.8 Divergence of a second-order tensor field
6 References

Note: the Einstein summation convention of summing on repeated indices is used below.
Elementary vector and tensor algebra in curvilinear coordinates is used in some of the older scientific literature in mechanics and physics and can be
indispensable to understanding work from the early and mid 1900s, for example the text by Green and Zerna. Some useful relations in the algebra of
vectors and second-order tensors in curvilinear coordinates are given in this section. The notation and contents are primarily from Ogden, Naghdi,
Simmonds, Green and Zerna, Basar and Weichert, and Ciarlet.

## Vectors in curvilinear coordinates

Let (b1, b2, b3) be an arbitrary basis for three-dimensional Euclidean space. In general, the basis vectors are neither unit vectors nor mutually
orthogonal. However, they are required to be linearly independent. Then a vector v can be expressed as(p27)

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## The components vk are the contravariant components of the vector v.

The reciprocal basis (b1, b2, b3) is defined by the relation (pp2829)

## where i j is the Kronecker delta.

The vector v can also be expressed in terms of the reciprocal basis:

## Second-order tensors in curvilinear coordinates

A second-order tensor can be expressed as

The components Sij are called the contravariant components, Si j the mixed right-covariant components, Si j the mixed left-covariant components,
and Sij the covariant components of the second-order tensor.
Metric tensor and relations between components
The quantities gij, gij are defined as(p39)

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Also,

## The alternating tensor

In an orthonormal right-handed basis, the third-order alternating tensor is defined as

Now,

Hence,

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Vector operations
1. Identity map
The identity map I defined by

## 2. Scalar (dot) product

The scalar product of two vectors in curvilinear coordinates is(p32)
3. Vector (cross) product
The cross product of two vectors is given by(pp3234)
where ijk is the permutation symbol and ei is a Cartesian basis vector. In curvilinear coordinates, the equivalent expression is
where
is the third-order alternating tensor.
The cross product of two vectors is given by
where ijk is the permutation symbol and

and

Hence,

gives us

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Tensor operations
1. Identity map:
The identity map defined by

## 2. Action of a second-order tensor on a vector:

The action
can be expressed in curvilinear coordinates as
3. Inner product of two second-order tensors:
The inner product of two second-order tensors

## can be expressed in curvilinear coordinates as

Alternatively,
4. Determinant of a second-order tensor:
If is a second-order tensor, then the determinant is defined by the relation
where

## Relations between curvilinear and Cartesian basis vectors

Let (e1, e2, e3) be the usual Cartesian basis vectors for the Euclidean space of interest and let

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Let

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be the Jacobian of the transformation. Then, from the definition of the determinant,

Since

we have

First, consider

Then

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## This observation leads to the relations

In index notation,

where

## is the usual permutation symbol.

We have not identified an explicit expression for the transformation tensor F because an alternative form of the mapping between curvilinear and
Cartesian bases is more useful. Assuming a sufficient degree of smoothness in the mapping (and a bit of abuse of notation), we have

Similarly,

and

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Note: the Einstein summation convention of summing on repeated indices is used below.
Simmonds, in his book on tensor analysis, quotes Albert Einstein saying
The magic of this theory will hardly fail to impose itself on anybody who has truly understood it; it represents a genuine triumph of the
method of absolute differential calculus, founded by Gauss, Riemann, Ricci, and Levi-Civita.
Vector and tensor calculus in general curvilinear coordinates is used in tensor analysis on four-dimensional curvilinear manifolds in general relativity,
in the mechanics of curved shells, in examining the invariance properties of Maxwell's equations which has been of interest in metamaterials
and in many other fields.
Some useful relations in the calculus of vectors and second-order tensors in curvilinear coordinates are given in this section. The notation and contents
are primarily from Ogden, Simmonds, Green and Zerna, Basar and Weichert, and Ciarlet.

Basic definitions
Let the position of a point in space be characterized by three coordinate variables

The coordinate curve q1 represents a curve on which q2, q3 are constant. Let x be the position vector of the point relative to some origin. Then,
assuming that such a mapping and its inverse exist and are continuous, we can write (p55)

The fields i(x) are called the curvilinear coordinate functions of the curvilinear coordinate system (x) = 1(x).
The qi coordinate curves are defined by the one-parameter family of functions given by

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## Tangent vector to coordinate curves

The tangent vector to the curve xi at the point xi() (or to the coordinate curve qi at the point x) is

Scalar field
Let f(x) be a scalar field in space. Then

## The gradient of the field f is defined by

where c is an arbitrary constant vector. If we define the components ci of c are such that

then

If we set

, then since

, we have

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If bi is the covariant (or natural) basis at a point, and if bi is the contravariant (or reciprocal) basis at that point, then

A brief rationale for this choice of basis is given in the next section.
Vector field
A similar process can be used to arrive at the gradient of a vector field f(x). The gradient is given by

If we consider the gradient of the position vector field r(x) = x, then we can show that

The vector field bi is tangent to the qi coordinate curve and forms a natural basis at each point on the curve. This basis, as discussed at the beginning
of this article, is also called the covariant curvilinear basis. We can also define a reciprocal basis, or contravariant curvilinear basis, bi. All the
algebraic relations between the basis vectors, as discussed in the section on tensor algebra, apply for the natural basis and its reciprocal at each point x.
Since c is arbitrary, we can write

Note that the contravariant basis vector bi is perpendicular to the surface of constant i and is given by

## Christoffel symbols of the first kind

The Christoffel symbols of the first kind are defined as

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## To express ijk in terms of gij we note that

Since bi,j = bj,i we have ijk = jik. Using these to rearrange the above relations gives

## Christoffel symbols of the second kind

The Christoffel symbols of the second kind are defined as

in which

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Another particularly useful relation, which shows that the Christoffel symbol depends only on the metric tensor and its derivatives, is

## Explicit expression for the gradient of a vector field

The following expressions for the gradient of a vector field in curvilinear coordinates are quite useful.

## Representing a physical vector field

The vector field v can be represented as

where

## Second-order tensor field

The gradient of a second order tensor field can similarly be expressed as

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## Explicit expressions for the gradient

If we consider the expression for the tensor in terms of a contravariant basis, then

## Representing a physical second-order tensor field

The physical components of a second-order tensor field can be obtained by using a normalized contravariant basis, i.e.,

where the hatted basis vectors have been normalized. This implies that (again no summation)

Divergence

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Vector field
The divergence of a vector field ( )is defined as

## In terms of components with respect to a curvilinear basis

An alternative equation for the divergence of a vector field is frequently used. To derive this relation recall that

Now,

## Noting that, due to the symmetry of ,

we have

Recall that if [gij] is the matrix whose components are gij, then the inverse of the matrix is

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where Aij are the Cofactor matrix of the components gij. From matrix algebra we have

Hence,

Plugging this relation into the expression for the divergence gives

## Second-order tensor field

The divergence of a second-order tensor field is defined using

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Laplacian
Scalar field
The Laplacian of a scalar field (x) is defined as

Using the alternative expression for the divergence of a vector field gives us

Now

Therefore,

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## Curl of a vector field

The curl of a vector field v in covariant curvilinear coordinates can be written as

where

Assume, for the purposes of this section, that the curvilinear coordinate system is orthogonal, i.e.,

or equivalently,

where
. As before,
are covariant basis vectors and bi, bj are contravariant basis vectors. Also, let (e1, e2, e3) be a background, fixed,
Cartesian basis. A list of orthogonal curvilinear coordinates is given below.

## Metric tensor in orthogonal curvilinear coordinates

Main article: Metric tensor
Let r(x) be the position vector of the point x with respect to the origin of the coordinate system. The notation can be simplified by noting that x = r(x).
At each point we can construct a small line element dx. The square of the length of the line element is the scalar product dx dx and is called the

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metric of the space. Recall that the space of interest is assumed to be Euclidean when we talk of curvilinear coordinates. Let us express the position
vector in terms of the background, fixed, Cartesian basis, i.e.,

Using the chain rule, we can then express dx in terms of three-dimensional orthogonal curvilinear coordinates (q1, q2, q3) as

## The symmetric quantity

is called the fundamental (or metric) tensor of the Euclidean space in curvilinear coordinates.
Note also that

## where hij are the Lam coefficients.

If we define the scale factors, hi, using

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we get a relation between the fundamental tensor and the Lam coefficients.
Example: Polar coordinates
If we consider polar coordinates for R2, note that

(r, ) are the curvilinear coordinates, and the Jacobian determinant of the transformation (r,) (r cos , r sin ) is r.
The orthogonal basis vectors are br = (cos , sin ), b = (r sin , r cos ). The normalized basis vectors are er = (cos , sin ), e = (sin , cos )
and the scale factors are hr = 1 and h= r. The fundamental tensor is g11 =1, g22 =r2, g12 = g21 =0.

## Line and surface integrals

If we wish to use curvilinear coordinates for vector calculus calculations, adjustments need to be made in the calculation of line, surface and volume
integrals. For simplicity, we again restrict the discussion to three dimensions and orthogonal curvilinear coordinates. However, the same arguments
apply for -dimensional problems though there are some additional terms in the expressions when the coordinate system is not orthogonal.
Line integrals
Normally in the calculation of line integrals we are interested in calculating

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by the chain rule. And from the definition of the Lam coefficients,

and thus

Now, since

when

, we have

## and we can proceed normally.

Surface integrals
Likewise, if we are interested in a surface integral, the relevant calculation, with the parameterization of the surface in Cartesian coordinates is:

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Therefore,

where

## is the permutation symbol.

In determinant form, the cross product in terms of curvilinear coordinates will be:

In orthogonal curvilinear coordinates of 3 dimensions, where

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## The divergence of a vector field can then be written as

Also,

Therefore,

We can get an expression for the Laplacian in a similar manner by noting that

Then we have

The expressions for the gradient, divergence, and Laplacian can be directly extended to n-dimensions.

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and

where

where

## are the unit vectors in the

directions.

Note that the components of the metric tensor are such that

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The non-zero components of the Christoffel symbol of the second kind are

## Representing a physical vector field

The normalized contravariant basis vectors in cylindrical polar coordinates are

## Gradient of a scalar field

The gradient of a scalar field, f(x), in cylindrical coordinates can now be computed from the general expression in curvilinear coordinates and has the
form

## Gradient of a vector field

Similarly, the gradient of a vector field, v(x), in cylindrical coordinates can be shown to be

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## Divergence of a vector field

Using the equation for the divergence of a vector field in curvilinear coordinates, the divergence in cylindrical coordinates can be shown to be

## Laplacian of a scalar field

The Laplacian is more easily computed by noting that

Hence,

## Representing a physical second-order tensor field

The physical components of a second-order tensor field are those obtained when the tensor is expressed in terms of a normalized contravariant basis.

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## Gradient of a second-order tensor field

Using the above definitions we can show that the gradient of a second-order tensor field in cylindrical polar coordinates can be expressed as

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## Divergence of a second-order tensor field

The divergence of a second-order tensor field in cylindrical polar coordinates can be obtained from the expression for the gradient by collecting terms
where the scalar product of the two outer vectors in the dyadic products is nonzero. Therefore,

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## Covariance and contravariance

Basic introduction to the mathematics of curved spacetime
Orthogonal coordinates
FrenetSerret formulas
Covariant derivative
Tensor derivative (continuum mechanics)
Curvilinear perspective
Del in cylindrical and spherical coordinates

Notes
1. Green, A. E.; Zerna, W. (1968). Theoretical Elasticity. Oxford University
Press. ISBN 0-19-853486-8.
2. Ogden, R. W. (2000). Nonlinear elastic deformations. Dover.
3. Naghdi, P. M. (1972). "Theory of shells and plates". In S. Flgge.
Handbook of Physics. VIa/2. pp. 425640.
4. Simmonds, J. G. (1994). A brief on tensor analysis. Springer.
ISBN 0-387-90639-8.
5. Basar, Y.; Weichert, D. (2000). Numerical continuum mechanics of
solids: fundamental concepts and perspectives. Springer.
6. Ciarlet, P. G. (2000). Theory of Shells 1. Elsevier Science.
7. Einstein, A. (1915). "Contribution to the Theory of General Relativity". In
Laczos, C. The Einstein Decade. p. 213. ISBN 0-521-38105-3.

## 8. Misner, C. W.; Thorne, K. S.; Wheeler, J. A. (1973). Gravitation. W. H.

Freeman and Co. ISBN 0-7167-0344-0.
9. Greenleaf, A.; Lassas, M.; Uhlmann, G. (2003). "Anisotropic
conductivities that cannot be detected by EIT". Physiological
measurement 24 (2): 413419. doi:10.1088/0967-3334/24/2/353.
PMID 12812426.
10. Leonhardt, U.; Philbin, T.G. (2006). "General relativity in electrical
engineering". New Journal of Physics 8: 247. arXiv:cond-mat/0607418.
Bibcode:2006NJPh....8..247L. doi:10.1088/1367-2630/8/10/247.
11. "The divergence of a tensor field". Introduction to Elasticity/Tensors.
Wikiversity. Retrieved 2010-11-26.

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Spiegel, M. R. (1959). Vector Analysis. New York: Schaum's Outline Series. ISBN 0-07-084378-3.
Arfken, George (1995). Mathematical Methods for Physicists. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-059877-9.

## Derivation of Unit Vectors in Curvilinear Coordinates (http://planetmath.org/?method=l2h&from=collab&id=83&op=getobj)

MathWorld's page on Curvilinear Coordinates (http://mathworld.wolfram.com/CurvilinearCoordinates.html)
Prof. R. Brannon's E-Book on Curvilinear Coordinates (http://www.mech.utah.edu/~brannon/public/curvilinear.pdf)