# Mathematical Physics

:

Applied Mathematics for Scientists and Engineers Bruce R. Kusse and Erik A. Westwig

Copyright02006 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co KGaA

CHRISTOFFEL SYMBOLS AND COVARIANT DERIVATIVES

Non-orthonormal coordinate systems become more complicated if the basis vectors are position dependent. An example of a two-dimensional coordinate system of this type is shown in Figure F. 1. In this system, the displacementvector can still be written as

Since
dT =

(af) dx' + (z) 8x2 dx2,
dX'

the covariant basis vectors are still identified as

but now are functions of position. The effect of nonconstant basis vectors is most evident when applying derivatives to vector and scalar fields. In Chapter 14,the gradient operation was discussedfor skewed coordinate systems, where the basis vectors were not orthonormal and had constant basis vectors. The gradient was defined as

655

axJ (vie). Things are very different for the divergence of a vector field. the gradient operation does not need to be modified in any way. Rearranging Equation F.7) . Figure El A Coordinate System in Curved Space and the del operator itself was identified as The derivative d+/dx'. Using the same definition for the del operator. v = gj . This is important. because when we move to systems where the basis vectors are no longer constants. x1 i . is the irh covariant component of the gradient vector.6 gives - v . F.656 CHRISTOFFEL SYMBOLS \ I . Notice how the contravariant basis vector g is not differentiated. the divergence of a vector = Vi& becomes v Now the spatial derivative operates both on the vector components V' and the gi basis vectors.

CHRISTOFFEL SYMBOLS 657 If the basis vectors are not constants. The contravariant components of the vector quantity are given by the Christoffel symbol with a superscripted k . It is important to note. Because of the nature of the LHS of Equation F.9. and which coordinate the differentiation is being taken with respect to. given by the j index.10) or (F.13) This equation clearly indicates that the Christoffel symbol has a symmetry with respect to the subscripted indices Equation F. In order to complete our discussion of the divergence.9 obeys the normal superscriptlsubscript conventions.8 is usually defined in terms of the Christoffel symboE The definition in Equation F. so that the Christoffel symbol in Equation F. however.9 implies the result of the differentiation on the LHS must be a vector quantity. we must evaluate the Christoffel symbols in terms of the coordinate system geometry. (F.9 can be solved for rkj by dot multiplying both sides by g': (F.7 generates two terms rkj: The last term in Equation F. Its elements do not transform like the elements of a tensor. but it is not very useful because it is in terms of the derivatives of the position vector and the basis vectors of the coordinate system. expressed in terms of the covariant basis vectors &. Equation F. these indices are written as subscripts. given by the i index. the RHS of Equation F. These components obviously also depend on which basis vector is being differentiated. the Christoffel symbol is not a tensor.12) so the Christoffel symbol becomes (F. A more useful relation can be derived by . 13 provides a method for evaluating the Christoffel symbol.11) The basis vectors can still be written in terms of derivatives of the position vector.

658 CHRISTOFFEL SYMBOLS considering the metric. g. 11 and F. while rkj This quantity.20. Notice the Christoffel symbol of the first kind exhibits the same symmetry with respect to the last two subscripts: Combining Equations F. this metric can be used to define a new set of quantities: is often called a Christoffel symbol of the first kind. gives (F. while malung use of the symmetry of the Christoffel symbols. 19) can now be written in terms of Christoffel symbols as (F.20) Similarly.22) Adding Equation F. (F.2 1and subtractingF. is a Christoffel symbol of the second kind.. 18) The spatial derivative of the metric. I' (F. = & . (F. Remember the metric for a coordinate system is M 1J . 16 gives (F.21) and (F.23) . 15) Even though the Christoffel symbol is not a tensor. rbj.22 to F.

The curl of the vector field V is d v x v = g j -ax] x pigi).27) as you would expect.. The curl operation can be handled in a similar manner. (F.CHRISTOFFEL SYMBOLS 659 Raising the first index with the metric gives an expression for the Christoffel symbol of the second kind in terms of the coordinate system's metric: (F.28) which. Returning to the divergence operation.26) where the Christoffel symbol can always be obtained from Equation F. = 0.24) This equation allows us to evaluate the Christoffel symbol if we know the metric.25) The quantity in brackets on the RHS is referred to as the covariant derivative of a vector and can be written a bit more compactly as (F.8 can now be written using the Christoffel symbol as (F. written in terms of the covariant derivative.29) . r.24. and the covariant derivative simplifies to (F. is (F. Equation F. If the basis vectors are constants.