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Preface

This book is the first of two volumes on the work of Hermann Grassmann. There is something fascinating about the beauty with which the mathematical structures Grassmann discovered (invented, if you will) describe the physical world, and something also fascinating about how these beautiful structures have been largely lost to the mainstreams of mathematics and science. Volume 1: Foundations develops the algebraic foundations of the structures, while Volume 2: Applications will explore some of their applications. The books have grown out of an interest in Grassmanns work over the past four decades. Hermann Gnther Grassmann was born in 1809 in Stettin, near the border of Germany and Poland. He was only 23 when he discovered the method of adding and multiplying points and vectors which was to become the foundation of his Ausdehnungslehre. In 1839 he composed a work on the study of tides entitled Theorie der Ebbe und Flut, which was the first work ever to use vectorial methods. In 1844 Grassmann published his first Ausdehnungslehre (Die lineale Ausdehnungslehre ein neuer Zweig der Mathematik) and in the same year won a prize for an essay which expounded a system satisfying an earlier search by Leibniz for an algebra of geometry. Despite these achievements, Grassmann received virtually no recognition. In 1862 Grassmann re-expounded his ideas from a different viewpoint in a second Ausdehnungslehre (Die Ausdehnungslehre. Vollstndig und in strenger Form). Again the work was met with resounding silence from the mathematical community, and it was not until the latter part of his life that he received any significant recognition from his contemporaries. Of these, most significant were J. Willard Gibbs who discovered his works in 1877 (the year of Grassmanns death), and William Kingdon Clifford who discovered them in depth about the same time. Both became quite enthusiastic about this new mathematics. More details on the biography of Grassmann may be found at the end of the book, but for the most comprehensive biography see Petsche [2009]. The term Ausdehnungslehre is variously translated as extension theory, theory of extension, or calculus of extension. In this book we will use these terms to refer to Grassmanns original work and to other early work in the same notational and conceptual tradition (particularly that of Edward Wyllys Hyde, Henry James Forder and Alfred North Whitehead). The term exterior calculus will be reserved for the calculus of exterior differential forms, originally developed by Elie Cartan from the Ausdehnungslehre. This is an area in which there are many excellent texts, and which is outside the scope of these books. The term Grassmann algebra will be used to describe that body of algebraic theory and results based on the Ausdehnungslehre, but extended to include more recent results and viewpoints. This will be the basic focus of this book. Finally, the term GrassmannAlgebra will be used to refer to the Mathematica based software package which accompanies the books. The intrinsic power of Grassmann algebra arises from its fundamental product operation, the exterior product. The exterior product codifies the property of linear dependence, so essential for modern applied mathematics, directly into the algebra. Simple non-zero elements of the algebra may be viewed as representing constructs of linearly independent elements. For example, a simple bivector is the exterior product of two vectors; a line is represented by the exterior product of two points; a plane is represented by the exterior product of three points.

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The intrinsic power of Grassmann algebra arises from its fundamental product operation, the Preface exterior product. The exterior product codifies the property of linear dependence, so essential for modern applied mathematics, directly into the algebra. Simple non-zero elements of the algebra may be viewed as representing constructs of linearly independent elements. For example, a simple bivector is the exterior product of two vectors; a line is represented by the exterior product of two points; a plane is represented by the exterior product of three points. The focus of these books is to provide a readable account in modern notation of Grassmanns major algebraic contributions to mathematics and science. I would like them to be accessible to scientists and engineers, students and professionals alike. Consequently I have tried to avoid all mathematical terminology which does not make an essential contribution to understanding the basic concepts. The only assumptions I have made as to the readers background is that they have some familiarity with basic linear algebra. The focus is also to provide an environment for exploring applications of Grassmann algebra. For general applications in higher dimensional spaces, computations by hand in any algebra become tedious, indeed limiting, thus restricting the hypotheses that can be explored. For this reason the book is integrated with a package for exploring Grassmann algebra, called GrassmannAlgebra. GrassmannAlgebra has been developed in Mathematica. You can read the book without using the package, or you can use the package to extend the examples in the text, experiment with hypotheses, or explore your own interests. Mathematica is a powerful system for doing mathematics on a computer. It has an inbuilt programming language ideal for extending its capabilities to other mathematical systems like Grassmann algebra. It also has a sophisticated mathematical typesetting capability. This book, cover and text, was written entirely in Mathematica. The chapters are written in its standard notebook format, making the book interactive in its electronic version with the GrassmannAlgebra package. For the printed text, Mathematica also managed the style sheet, the graphics, specially constructed symbols, automatic section and equation numbering and referencing, generation of the table of contents, spelling checking, and analysis of the text for all pertinent index terms. Pdf generation, including font embedding and file stitching was done with Apples Preview application. The structure of this book is as follows: Chapter 1: Introduction provides a brief preparatory overview, introducing the seminal concepts of each chapter, and solidifying them with simple examples. This chapter is designed to give you a global appreciation with which better to understand the detail of the chapters which follow. However, it is independent of those chapters, and may be read as far as your interest takes you. Chapters 2 to 6: The Exterior Product, The Regressive Product, Geometric Interpretations, The Complement, and The Interior Product develop the basic theory. These form the essential core for a working knowledge of Grassmann algebra and for the explorations in the second volume. They are most profitably read (or at least scanned) sequentially. Computational sections within the text use GrassmannAlgebra or Mathematica. Wherever possible, explanation is provided so that the results are still intelligible without a knowledge of Mathematica. Mathematica input/output dialogue is in indented Courier font, with the input bold and the output plain. For example:
GrassmannSimplify@1 + x + x xD 1+x

Volume 1: Foundations comprises six chapters. Chapter 1 is a brief introduction to the fundamental concepts of later chapters. Chapter 2 will discuss the exterior product - the fundamental product operation of the algebra - and show how it creates the suite of linear spaces which forms the algebra. Chapter 3 will discover that the symmetry in this suite leads to a beautiful dual product: the regressive product. Equipped with these dual products, Chapter 4 shows how the algebra can be interpreted geometrically to easily recreate projective geometry. Chapter 5 lays the foundation for introducing a metric by defining for each element, a partner - its complement. Then Chapter 6 shows how to combine all of these to define the interior product, a much more general product than the scalar product. These chapters form the critical foundation to Grassmanns algebra. The rest is exploration!

Volume 1: Foundations comprises six chapters. Chapter 1 is a brief introduction to the fundamental concepts of later chapters. Chapter 2 will discuss the exterior product - the fundamental "" |3 product operation of the algebra - and show how it creates the suite of linear spaces which forms the algebra. Chapter 3 will discover that the symmetry in this suite leads to a beautiful dual product: the regressive product. Equipped with these dual products, Chapter 4 shows how the algebra can be interpreted geometrically to easily recreate projective geometry. Chapter 5 lays the foundation for introducing a metric by defining for each element, a partner - its complement. Then Chapter 6 shows how to combine all of these to define the interior product, a much more general product than the scalar product. These chapters form the critical foundation to Grassmanns algebra. The rest is exploration! Volume 2: Applications is currently a work in progress. When it is published you will find explorations using the fundamental theory developed in this volume of topics in physics, particularly screw algebra and mechanics, and of other branches of mathematics, particularly the hypercomplex and Clifford algebras. The GrassmannAlgebra website may be found at http://sites.google.com/site/grassmannalgebra From this site you will be able to: email me, download the GrassmannAlgebra application and earlier draft copies of the books, learn of any updates to them, check for known errata or bugs, let me know of any errata or bugs you find, get hints and FAQs for using the package, and link to where you can find the books in ebook or hard copy format. The GrassmannAlgebra application can turn an exploration requiring days by hand into one requiring just minutes of computing time. Acknowledgements are many. First I would like to acknowledge Cecil Pengilley who originally encouraged me to look at applying Grassmanns work to engineering; the University of Melbourne, Xerox Corporation, the University of Rochester and Swinburne University of Technology which sheltered me while I pursued this interest; Janet Blagg who peerlessly edited the early draft text; my family who had to put up with my writing; Stephen Wolfram who created Mathematica and provided me with a visiting scholars grant to work at Wolfram Research Institute in Champaign where I began developing the GrassmannAlgebra package; Devendra Kapadia, Andr Kuzniarek, Lou DAndria, Chris Carlson, Chris Hill, Rob Raguet-Schofield and John Fultz of Wolfram Research who tirelessly fielded my many Mathematica questions; HansJoachim Petsche for making the Gramann Bicentennial Conference so memorable; and Eckhard Hitzer, Alvin Swimmer, Jacques Riche, Allan Cortzen, Diane Demers, Gary Harper, and Gary Miller for their highly valued conversations and correspondences. Writing this sort of book also involves a lot of Mathematica coding. In this I would like to especially acknowledge my great appreciation of David Parks interest in Grassmann algebra and the thought-provoking conversations which have ensued. And particularly, I would like to acknowledge his many contributions to the GrassmannAlgebra software. As well as contributing some seminal capabilities to the software, he is the author of its documentation system - not a trivial task, given its several hundreds of functions. Above all however, I must acknowledge Hermann Grassmann. His contribution to mathematics and science puts him among the great thinkers of the nineteenth century. I hope you enjoy exploring this beautiful mathematical system.

John Browne August, 2012

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Preface

For I have every confidence that the effort I have applied to the science reported upon here, which has occupied a considerable span of my lifetime and demanded the most intense exertions of my powers, is not to be lost. a time will come when it will be drawn forth from the dust of oblivion and the ideas laid down here will bear fruit. some day these ideas, even if in an altered form, will reappear and with the passage of time will participate in a lively intellectual exchange. For truth is eternal, it is divine; and no phase in the development of truth, however small the domain it embraces, can pass away without a trace. It remains even if the garments in which feeble men clothe it fall into dust. Hermann Grassmann in the foreword to the Ausdehnungslehre of 1862 translated by Lloyd Kannenberg

1 1 Background

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1 Introduction
1.1 Background
The mathematical representation of physical entities
Three of the more important mathematical systems for representing the entities of contemporary engineering and physical science are the (three-dimensional) vector algebra, the more general tensor algebra, and geometric algebra. Grassmann algebra is more general than vector algebra, overlaps aspects of the tensor algebra, and underpins geometric algebra. It predates all three. In this book we will show that it is only via Grassmann algebra that many of the geometric and physical entities commonly used in the engineering and physical sciences may be represented mathematically in a way which correctly models their pertinent properties and leads straightforwardly to principal results. As a case in point we may take the concept of force. It is well known that a force is not satisfactorily represented by a (free) vector, yet contemporary practice is still to use a (free) vector calculus for this task. The deficiency may be made up for by verbal appendages to the mathematical statements: for example where the force f acts along the line through the point P. Such verbal appendages, being necessary, and yet not part of the calculus being used, indicate that the calculus itself is not adequate to model force satisfactorily. In practice this inadequacy is coped with in terms of a (free) vector calculus by the introduction of the concept of moment. The conditions of equilibrium of a rigid body include a condition on the sum of the moments of the forces about any point. The justification for this condition is not well treated in contemporary texts. It will be shown later however that by representing a force correctly in terms of an element of the Grassmann algebra, both force-vector and moment conditions for the equilibrium of a rigid body may be united in one condition, a natural consequence of the algebraic processes alone. Since the application of Grassmann algebra to mechanics was known during the nineteenth century one might wonder why, with the progress of science, it is not currently used. Indeed the same question might be asked with respect to its application in many other fields. To attempt to answer these questions, a brief biography of Grassmann is included as an appendix. In brief, the scientific world was probably not ready in the nineteenth century for the new ideas that Grassmann proposed, and now, in the twenty-first century, seems only just becoming aware of their potential.

The central concept of the Ausdehnungslehre


Grassmanns principal contribution to the physical sciences was his discovery of a natural language of geometry from which he derived a geometric calculus of significant power. For a mathematical representation of a physical phenomenon to be correct it must be of a tensorial nature and since many physical tensors have direct geometric counterparts, a calculus applicable to geometry may be expected to find application in the physical sciences. The word Ausdehnungslehre is most commonly translated as theory of extension, the fundamental product operation of the theory then becoming known as the exterior product. The notion of extension has its roots in the interpretation of the algebra in geometric terms: an element of the algebra may be extended to form a higher order element by its (exterior) product with another, in the way that a point may be extended to a line, or a line to a plane, by a point exterior to it. The notion of exteriorness is equivalent algebraically to that of linear independence. If the exterior product of elements of grade 1 (for example, points or vectors) is non-zero, then they are independent.

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1 Introduction The word Ausdehnungslehre is most commonly translated as theory of extension, the fundamental product operation of the theory then becoming known as the exterior product. The notion of extension has its roots in the interpretation of the algebra in geometric terms: an element of the algebra may be extended to form a higher order element by its (exterior) product with another, in the way that a point may be extended to a line, or a line to a plane, by a point exterior to it. The notion of exteriorness is equivalent algebraically to that of linear independence. If the exterior product of elements of grade 1 (for example, points or vectors) is non-zero, then they are independent.

A line may be defined by the exterior product of any two distinct points on it. Similarly, a plane may be defined by the exterior product of any three distinct points in it, and so on for higher dimensions. This independence with respect to the specific points chosen is an important and fundamental property of the exterior product. Each time a higher dimensional object is required it is simply created out of a lower dimensional one by multiplying by a new element in a new dimension. Intersections of elements are also obtainable as products. Simple elements of the Grassmann algebra may be interpreted as defining subspaces of a linear space. The exterior product then becomes the operation for building higher dimensional subspaces (higher order elements) from a set of lower dimensional independent subspaces. A second product operation called the regressive product may then be defined for determining the common lower dimensional subspaces of a set of higher dimensional non-independent subspaces.

Comparison with the vector and tensor algebras


The Grassmann algebra is a tensorial algebra, that is, it concerns itself with the types of mathematical entities and operations necessary to describe physical quantities in an invariant manner. In fact, it has much in common with the algebra of anti-symmetric tensors the exterior product being equivalent to the anti-symmetric tensor product. Nevertheless, there are conceptual and notational differences which make the Grassmann algebra richer and easier to use. Rather than a sub-algebra of the tensor algebra, it is perhaps more meaningful to view the Grassmann algebra as a super-algebra of the three-dimensional vector algebra since both commonly use invariant (component free) notations. The principal differences are that the Grassmann algebra has a dual axiomatic structure, can treat higher order elements than vectors, can differentiate between points and vectors, generalizes the notion of cross product, is independent of dimension, and possesses the structure of a true algebra.

Algebraicizing the notion of linear dependence


Another way of viewing Grassmann algebra is as linear or vector algebra onto which has been introduced a product operation which algebraicizes the notion of linear dependence. This product operation is called the exterior product and is symbolized with a wedge . If vectors x1 , x2 , x3 , are linearly dependent, then it turns out that their exterior product is zero: x1 x2 x3 = 0. If they are independent, their exterior product is non-zero. Conversely, if the exterior product of vectors x1 , x2 , x3 , is zero, then the vectors are linearly dependent. Thus the exterior product brings the critical notion of linear dependence into the realm of direct algebraic manipulation. Although this might appear to be a relatively minor addition to linear algebra, we expect to demonstrate in this book that nothing could be further from the truth: the consequences of being able to model linear dependence with a product operation are far reaching, both in facilitating an understanding of current results, and in the generation of new results for many of the algebras and their entities used in science and engineering today. These include of course linear and multilinear algebra, but also vector and tensor algebra, screw algebra, hypercomplex algebras, and Clifford algebras.

1 1 Background

Although this might appear to be a relatively minor addition to linear algebra, we expect to |7 demonstrate in this book that nothing could be further from the truth: the consequences of being able to model linear dependence with a product operation are far reaching, both in facilitating an understanding of current results, and in the generation of new results for many of the algebras and their entities used in science and engineering today. These include of course linear and multilinear algebra, but also vector and tensor algebra, screw algebra, hypercomplex algebras, and Clifford algebras.

Grassmann algebra as a geometric calculus


Most importantly however, Grassmanns contribution has enabled the operations and entities of all of these algebras to be interpretable geometrically, thus enabling us to bring to bear the power of geometric visualization and intuition into our algebraic manipulations. It is well known that a vector x1 may be interpreted geometrically as representing a direction in space. If the space has a metric, then the magnitude of x1 is interpreted as its length. The introduction of the exterior product enables us to extend the entities of the space to higher dimensions. The exterior product of two vectors x1 x2 , called a bivector, may be visualized as the twodimensional analogue of a direction, that is, a planar direction. Neither vectors nor bivectors are interpreted as being located anywhere since they do not possess sufficient information to specify independently both a direction and a position. If the space has a metric, then the magnitude of x1 x2 is interpreted as its area, and similarly for higher order products. We depict a simple bivector by its vector factors arranged head-to-tail linked by the ghost of a parallelogram.

Depicting a simple bivector. This bivector is located nowhere.

For applications to the physical world, however, the Grassmann algebra possesses a critical capability that no other algebra possesses so directly: it can distinguish between points and vectors and treat them as separate entities. Lines and planes are examples of higher order constructs from points and vectors, which have both position and direction. A line can be represented by the exterior product of any two points on it, or by any point on it and a vector parallel to it.

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1 Introduction

Pointvector depiction

Pointpoint depiction

Two different depictions of a bound vector in its line.

A plane can be represented by the exterior product of any point on it and a bivector parallel to it, any two points on it and a vector parallel to it, or any three points on it.

Pointvectorvector

Pointpointvector

Pointpointpoint

Three different depictions of a bound bivector.

Finally, it should be noted that the Grassmann algebra subsumes all of real algebra, the exterior product reducing in this case to the usual product operation among real numbers. Here then is a geometric calculus par excellence. We hope you enjoy exploring it.

1.2 The Exterior Product


The anti-symmetry of the exterior product
The exterior product of two vectors x and y of a linear space yields the bivector x y. The bivector is not a vector, and so does not belong to the original linear space. In fact the bivectors form their own linear space. The fundamental defining characteristic of the exterior product is its anti-symmetry. That is, the product changes sign if the order of the factors is reversed.
xy - yx 1.1

From this we can easily show the equivalent relation, that the exterior product of a vector with itself is zero.
xx 0 1.2

This is as expected because x is linearly dependent on itself.

1 2 The Exterior Product

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The exterior product is associative, distributive, and behaves linearly as expected with scalars.

Exterior products of vectors in a three-dimensional space


By way of example, suppose we are working in a three-dimensional space, with basis e1 , e2 , and e3 . Then we can express vectors x and y as linear combinations of these basis vectors:
x a1 e1 + a2 e2 + a3 e3 y b1 e1 + b2 e2 + b3 e3

Here, the ai and bi are of course scalars. Taking the exterior product of x and y and multiplying out the product allows us to express the bivector x y as a linear combination of basis bivectors.
x y Ha1 e1 + a2 e2 + a3 e3 L Hb1 e1 + b2 e2 + b3 e3 L x y Ha1 b1 L e1 e1 + Ha1 b2 L e1 e2 + Ha1 b3 L e1 e3 + Ha2 b1 L e2 e1 + Ha2 b2 L e2 e2 + Ha2 b3 L e2 e3 + Ha3 b1 L e3 e1 + Ha3 b2 L e3 e2 + Ha3 b3 L e3 e3

The first simplification we can make is to put all basis bivectors of the form ei ei to zero. The second simplification is to use the anti-symmetry of the product and collect the terms of the bivectors which are not essentially different (that is, those that may differ only in the order of their factors, and hence differ only by a sign). The product x y can then be written:
x y Ha1 b2 - a2 b1 L e1 e2 + Ha2 b3 - a3 b2 L e2 e3 + Ha3 b1 - a1 b3 L e3 e1

The scalar factors appearing here are just those which would have appeared in the usual vector cross product of x and y. However, there is an important difference. The exterior product expression does not require the vector space to have a metric, while the usual definition of the cross product, because it generates a vector orthogonal to x and y, necessarily assumes a metric. Furthermore, the exterior product is associative and valid for any number of vectors in spaces of arbitrary dimension, while the cross product is not associative and is necessarily confined to products of vectors in a space of three dimensions. For example, we may continue the product by multiplying x y by a third vector z.
z c1 e1 + c2 e2 + c3 e3 xyz HHa1 b2 - a2 b1 L e1 e2 + Ha2 b3 - a3 b2 L e2 e3 + Ha3 b1 - a1 b3 L e3 e1 L Hc1 e1 + c2 e2 + c3 e3 L

Adopting the same simplification procedures as before we obtain the trivector x y z expressed in basis form.
x y z Ha1 b2 c3 - a3 b2 c1 + a2 b3 c1 + a3 b1 c2 - a1 b3 c2 - a2 b1 c3 L e1 e2 e3

We depict a simple trivector by its vector factors arranged head-to-tail linked by the ghost of a parallelopiped.