# PBC lecture Notes Series: Transformation of Coordinates by Dr. A.

Kar Gupta

1
1
Transformation of Coordinates
(Combined Lectures, 1
st
Ed.)
Lecture Notes prepared by-
Dr. Abhijit Kar Gupta
Physics Department, Panskura Banamali College
Panskura R.S., East Midnapore, WB, India, Pin-code: 721152
e-mail: kg.abhi@gmail.com, abhijit_kargupta@rediffmail.com

Lecture-1

Let us start from a Rectangular Cartesian coordinate system.

) , , ( z y x P is a point in this system where we have the position vector of this to be
z k y j x i r
ˆ ˆ ˆ
+ + = . We can then write the position vector r to be a function of the
coordinates ( ) , , z y x :
) , , ( z y x r r =
Now suppose we go over to a new coordinate system (
3 2 1
, , u u u ) where we write
) , , (
3 2 1
u u u r r =
Therefore, it can be written as:

) , , (
3 2 1
u u u x x =
) , , (
3 2 1
u u u y y =
) , , (
3 2 1
u u u z z =

The above are the relations between coordinates in two systems.

Example: From Cartesian to spherical Polar system

) , , ( z y x → ) , , ( φ θ r
) , , ( φ θ r x x = = φ θ cos sin r
) , , ( φ θ r y y = = φ θ sin sin r
) , , ( φ θ r z z = = θ cos r

To express the position vector r in the new coordinate system ) , , (
3 2 1
u u u we have to
know the unit vectors in that system (like k j i
ˆ
,
ˆ
,
ˆ
in Cartesian system) along three new
axes.
We construct the tangent vectors along the positive directions of
1
u ,
2
u and
3
u as:
PBC lecture Notes Series: Transformation of Coordinates by Dr. A. Kar Gupta

2
2
1
u
r

,
2
u
r

,
3
u
r

respectively.

To understand the above physically, let us imagine the tip of the vector r on a surface
curved (or a plane surface) in general. So we can draw tangent on the surface at a
particular point in the positive directions of the coordinate axes.

We have now three unit vectors:

1
ˆ e =
1 1
u
r
u
r

=
1 1
1
u
r
h ∂

2
ˆ e =
2 2
u
r
u
r

=
2 2
1
u
r
h ∂

3
ˆ e =
3 3
u
r
u
r

=
3 3
1
u
r
h ∂

Where we introduce the symbols
1
h ,
2
h and
3
h in place of
1
u
r

etc.
Now we calculate some important vectors and relevant physical quantities in the new
coordinate system.

The Displacement Vector:

Since, ) , , (
3 2 1
u u u r r = ,

r d =
3
3
2
2
1
1
du
u
r
du
u
r
du
u
r

+

+

=
3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1
ˆ ˆ ˆ e du h e du h e du h + + .

If
1
ˆ e ,
2
ˆ e and
3
ˆ e are the basis vectors of a orthogonal coordinate system then

0 ˆ ˆ ˆ ˆ ˆ ˆ
1 3 3 2 2 1
= ⋅ = ⋅ = ⋅ e e e e e e .

Differential arc length:

2
3
2
3
2
2
2
2
2
1
2
1
2
du h du h du h r d r d ds + + = ⋅ =

PBC lecture Notes Series: Transformation of Coordinates by Dr. A. Kar Gupta

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3
Infinitesimal Volume element:

( ) ( ) ( )
3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1
ˆ ˆ ˆ du h e du h e du h e dV × ⋅ =
= ( )
3 2 1 3 2 1 3 2 1
ˆ ˆ ˆ du du du h h h e e e × ⋅ =
3 2 1 3 2 1
du du du h h h .

Here we have ( ) 1 ˆ ˆ ˆ
3 2 1
= × ⋅ e e e when the unit vectors form orthogonal set.

Note: The length of a vector, or he arc or the volume etc. all physical quantities remain
invariant under any kind of coordinate transformation.

From Cartesian to Spherical Polar Coordinate System

) , , ( ) , , ( φ θ r z y x →

φ θ cos sin r x =
φ θ sin sin r y =
θ cos r z =

Here, r u =
1
, θ =
2
u and φ =
3
u .

Calculations of Unit Vectors:

=
r

r
r
r
r

,
θ
eˆ =
θ θ ∂

∂ r r
and
φ
eˆ =
φ φ ∂

∂ r r

Start from the position vector:

z k y j x i r
ˆ ˆ ˆ
+ + = = θ φ θ φ θ cos
ˆ
sin sin
ˆ
cos sin
ˆ
r k r j r i + +
θ φ θ φ θ cos
ˆ
sin sin
ˆ
cos sin
ˆ
k j i
r
r
+ + =

…………………………….(1)
r
h
r
r
≡ =

1
θ φ θ φ θ
θ
sin
ˆ
sin cos
ˆ
cos cos
ˆ
r k r j r i
r
− + =

…………………………(2)
θ
θ
h r
r
≡ =

PBC lecture Notes Series: Transformation of Coordinates by Dr. A. Kar Gupta

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4
φ θ φ θ
φ
cos sin
ˆ
sin sin
ˆ
r j r i
r
+ − =

………………………………..(3)
φ
θ
φ
h r
r
≡ =

sin

Therefore,
Arc length:
2 2 2 2 2 2 2
φ θ
φ θ
d h d h dr h ds
r
+ + = =
2 2 2 2 2 2
sin φ θ θ d r d r dr + +

Volume element: φ θ θ φ θ
φ θ
d drd r d drd h h h dV
r
sin
2
= = .

Now we calculate the unit vectors using the relations (1), (2) and (3):

φ φ
θ φ θ φ θ
θ φ θ φ θ
φ
θ
cos
ˆ
sin
ˆ
ˆ
sin
ˆ
sin cos
ˆ
cos cos
ˆ
ˆ
cos
ˆ
sin sin
ˆ
cos sin
ˆ
ˆ
j i e
k j i e
k j i e
r
+ − =
− + =
+ + =

In the Matrix form:

|
|
|
.
|

\
|
φ
θ
e
e
e
r
ˆ
ˆ
ˆ
=
|
|
|
.
|

\
|
|
|
|
.
|

\
|

k
j
i
ˆ
ˆ
ˆ
0 cos sin
sin sin cos cos cos
cos sin sin cos sin
φ φ
θ φ θ φ θ
θ φ θ φ θ

|
|
|
.
|

\
|
φ
θ
e
e
e
r
ˆ
ˆ
ˆ
=
|
|
|
.
|

\
|
k
j
i
M
ˆ
ˆ
ˆ
.
Here M is called the transformation matrix. Check that the determinant of M is unity:
. 1 = M
Note: Property of Transformation Matrix.

We can calculate inverse of the matrix
1 −
M and thus can determine i
ˆ
, j
ˆ
and k
ˆ
in terms
of
r
eˆ ,
θ
eˆ and
φ
eˆ :
|
|
|
.
|

\
|
k
j
i
ˆ
ˆ
ˆ
=
1 −
M
|
|
|
.
|

\
|
φ
θ
e
e
e
r
ˆ
ˆ
ˆ
.
Thus we can determine the position vector completely in terms of
r
eˆ ,
θ
eˆ ,
φ
eˆ and r , θ ,
φ that is the unit vectors and coordinates of the new system.
PBC lecture Notes Series: Transformation of Coordinates by Dr. A. Kar Gupta

5
5
Exercise:

#1. Find (....) ˆ (.....) ˆ (....) ˆ
φ θ
e e e r
r
+ + =

#2. Verify that 0 ˆ ˆ ˆ ˆ ˆ ˆ = ⋅ = ⋅ = ⋅
r r
e e e e e e
φ φ θ θ
(Orthogonality).

#3. Given any vector
z y x
A k A j A i A
ˆ ˆ ˆ
+ + = , determine
φ φ θ θ
A e A e A e A
r r
ˆ ˆ ˆ + + = .

#4. If we know the position vector r as in #1, we can determine velocity
dt
r d
v = and
acceleration
2
2
dt
r d
a = . Thus find out:

φ φ θ θ
v e v e v e v
r r
ˆ ˆ ˆ + + =

φ φ θ θ
a e a e a e a
r r
ˆ ˆ ˆ + + = .

#5. In the transformation ) , , ( ) , , (
3 2 1
u u u z y x → the Jacobian of transformation is

3 3 3
2 2 2
1 1 1
3 2 1
, ,
, ,
u
z
u
y
u
x
u
z
u
y
u
x
u
z
u
y
u
x
u u u
z y x
J

=
|
|
.
|

\
|
.
Show that for the transformation to Spherical coordinate system ) , , ( ) , , ( φ θ r z y x → the
Jacobian is θ sin
2
r J = .
[Note: φ θd Jdrd dxdydz dV = = ]

#6. Do all the exercise above for Cylindrical coordinate system ) , , ( z φ ρ .

Lecture-2

Let us have
3 3 2 2 1 1
ˆ ˆ ˆ e f e f e f + + = ∇φ ……………………………….(1)
Here
1
ˆ e ,
2
ˆ e ,
3
ˆ e are the unit vectors we already know. Now we have to determine the
coefficients (or functions)
1
f ,
2
f and
3
f .
Since ) , , (
3 2 1
u u u r r = , we can write
PBC lecture Notes Series: Transformation of Coordinates by Dr. A. Kar Gupta

6
6
3
3
2
2
1
1
du
u
r
du
u
r
du
u
r
r d

+

+

= =
3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1
ˆ ˆ ˆ e du h e du h e du h + + …………….(2)
Also ) , , (
3 2 1
u u u φ φ = .
∴ φ d
3
3
2
2
1
1
du
u
du
u
du
u ∂

+

+

=
φ φ φ
……………………………………(3)

We can also write:
r d d ⋅ ∇ = φ φ
= ) ˆ ˆ ˆ ( ) ˆ ˆ ˆ (
3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1 3 3 2 2 1 1
e du h e du h e du h e f e f e f + + ⋅ + +
=
3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1
du f h du f h du f h + + …………………….(4)

Comparing (3) and (4) we have

1
1 1
u
f h

=
φ

1 1
1
1
u h
f

=
φ

2
2 2
u
f h

=
φ

2 2
2
1
u h
f

=
φ

3
3 3
u
f h

=
φ

3 3
3
1
u h
f

=
φ

Hence,
3 3
3
2 2
2
1 1
1
ˆ ˆ ˆ
u h
e
u h
e
u h
e

+

+

= ∇
φ φ φ
φ .

Therefore, the Gradient Operator is ∇ ≡
3 3
3
2 2
2
1 1
1
ˆ ˆ ˆ
u h
e
u h
e
u h
e

+

+

…………(5)

Transformation of DIVERGENCE:

Suppose we have a vector,
3 3 2 2 1 1
ˆ ˆ ˆ e A e A e A A + + =
Then ) ˆ ˆ ˆ (
3 3 2 2 1 1
e A e A e A A + + ⋅ ∇ = ⋅ ∇
= ) ˆ ( ) ˆ ( ) ˆ (
3 3 2 2 1 1
e A e A e A ⋅ ∇ + ⋅ ∇ + ⋅ ∇

Let us evaluate ) ˆ (
1 1
e A ⋅ ∇ separately.

To do that we express the unit vector
1
ˆ e in terms of the variable
1
u and so on.
We have ∇ ≡
3 3
3
2 2
2
1 1
1
ˆ ˆ ˆ
u h
e
u h
e
u h
e

+

+

as derived above.
PBC lecture Notes Series: Transformation of Coordinates by Dr. A. Kar Gupta

7
7

1
1
1
ˆ
h
e
u = ∇ ⇒
1 1 1
ˆ u h e ∇ =
Similarly,
2 2 2
ˆ u h e ∇ = and
3 3 3
ˆ u h e ∇ = .
Now we can write
3 2 1
ˆ ˆ ˆ e e e × = =
3 2 3 2
u u h h ∇ × ∇

∴ ) ( ) ˆ (
3 2 3 2 1 1 1
u u h h A e A ∇ × ∇ ⋅ ∇ = ⋅ ∇
= ) ( ) ( ) (
3 2 3 2 1 3 2 3 2 1
u u h h A u u h h A ∇ × ∇ ⋅ ∇ + ∇ × ∇ ⋅ ∇
= 0
ˆ ˆ
) (
3
3
2
2
3 2 1
+ × ⋅ ∇
h
e
h
e
h h A
=
3 2
1
3 2 1
ˆ
) (
h h
e
h h A ⋅ ∇
= ( )
3 2 1
1 3 2 1
1
h h A
u h h h ∂

Thus = ⋅ ∇ A ) ˆ ( ) ˆ ( ) ˆ (
3 3 2 2 1 1
e A e A e A ⋅ ∇ + ⋅ ∇ + ⋅ ∇
( ) ( ) ( )

+

+

= ⋅ ∇
2 1 3
3
1 3 2
2
3 2 1
1 3 2 1
1
h h A
u
h h A
u
h h A
u h h h
A ………………(6)

If Φ ∇ = A
Φ ∇ ⋅ ∇ = ⋅ ∇ A = Φ ∇
2

We put
3 3
3
2 2
2
1 1
1
ˆ ˆ ˆ
u h
e
u h
e
u h
e
A

Φ ∂
+

Φ ∂
+

Φ ∂
= in (6) and get

Φ ∇
2
=

|
|
.
|

\
|

Φ ∂

+
|
|
.
|

\
|

Φ ∂

+
|
|
.
|

\
|

Φ ∂

3 3
2 1
3 2 2
1 3
2 1 1
3 2
1 3 2 1
1
u h
h h
u u h
h h
u u h
h h
u h h h
…………….(7)

In Spherical Polar ( φ θ, , r ) System:

r u =
1
, θ =
2
u , φ =
3
u
r
e e ˆ ˆ
1
= ,
θ
e e ˆ ˆ
2
= ,
φ
e e ˆ ˆ
3
=
1
1
= =
r
h h
r h h = =
θ 2

θ
φ
sin
3
r h h = =
Putting all the above in (7) we get

PBC lecture Notes Series: Transformation of Coordinates by Dr. A. Kar Gupta

8
8
Φ ∇
2
=

|
|
.
|

\
|

Φ ∂

+ |
.
|

\
|

Φ ∂

+ |
.
|

\
|

Φ ∂

φ θ φ θ
θ
θ
θ
θ sin
sin
sin
sin
1
2
2
r
r
r
r
r
r
r r

=

Φ ∂
⋅ +
|
.
|

\
|

Φ ∂

+
|
.
|

\
|

Φ ∂

2
2
2
2
sin
1
sin sin
sin
1
φ θ θ
θ
θ
θ
θ r
r
r r
.

Transformation of CURL:

( )
3 3 2 2 1 1
ˆ ˆ ˆ e A e A e A A + + × ∇ = × ∇
= ( )
1 1
ˆ e A × ∇ + ( )
2 2
ˆ e A × ∇ + ( )
3 3
ˆ e A × ∇ ……………………………..(8)

To evaluate the first term:
We use
1 1 1
ˆ u h e ∇ = as before.

( ) ( )
1 1 1 1 1
ˆ u h A e A ∇ × ∇ = × ∇
=
1 1 1 1 1 1
) ( u h A u h A ∇ × ∇ + ∇ × ∇ [we used: A A A × ∇ + × ∇ = × ∇ φ φ φ ) ( ]
= 0
ˆ
) (
1
1
1 1
+ × ∇
h
e
h A
∴ ( ) = × ∇
1 1
ˆ e A
1
1
1 1
3 3
3
1 1
2 2
2
1 1
1 1
1
ˆ
) (
ˆ
) (
ˆ
) (
ˆ
h
e
h A
u h
e
h A
u h
e
h A
u h
e
×

+

+

=
1
1
1 1
1 1
1
ˆ
) (
ˆ
h
e
h A
u h
e
×

+
1
1
1 1
2 2
2
ˆ
) (
ˆ
h
e
h A
u h
e
×

+
1
1
1 1
3 3
3
ˆ
) (
ˆ
h
e
h A
u h
e
×

= 0 +

− ) (
ˆ
1 1
2 2 1
3
h A
u h h
e
+

) (
ˆ
1 1
3 3 1
2
h A
u h h
e

= ) (
ˆ
) (
ˆ
1 1
2 2 1
3
1 1
3 1 3
2
h A
u h h
e
h A
u h h
e

We can evaluate the other terms of equation (8) in a similar fashion.
Thus we can write
= × ∇ A ) (
ˆ
) (
ˆ
1 1
2 2 1
3
1 1
3 1 3
2
h A
u h h
e
h A
u h h
e

+ ) (
ˆ
) (
ˆ
2 2
3 3 2
1
2 2
1 2 1
3
h A
u h h
e
h A
u h h
e

+
) (
ˆ
) (
ˆ
3 3
1 1 3
2
3 3
2 3 2
1
h A
u h h
e
h A
u h h
e

=

) ( ) (
ˆ
2 2
3
3 3
2 3 2
1
h A
u
h A
u h h
e
+

) ( ) (
ˆ
3 3
1
1 1
3 1 3
2
h A
u
h A
u h h
e
+

) ( ) (
ˆ
1 1
2
2 2
1 2 1
3
h A
u
h A
u h h
e
………(9)
PBC lecture Notes Series: Transformation of Coordinates by Dr. A. Kar Gupta

9
9
Expression (9) can be written as

= × ∇ A

|
|
.
|

\
|

+
|
|
.
|

\
|

+
|
|
.
|

\
|

) ( ) ( ˆ ) ( ) ( ˆ ) ( ) ( ˆ
1
1 1
2
2 2
1
3 3 3 3
1
1 1
3
2 2 2 2
3
3 3
2
1 1
3 2 1
h A
u
h A
u
e h h A
u
h A
u
e h h A
u
h A
u
e h
h h h

=
3 3 2 2 1 1
3 2 1
3 3 2 2 1 1
3 2 1
ˆ ˆ ˆ
1
h A h A h A
u u u
e h e h e h
h h h ∂

………………………………………….(10)

In Spherical Polar Coordinate system:

= × ∇ A
φ θ
φ θ
θ
φ θ
θ
θ
A r rA A
r
e r e r e
r
r
r
. sin
ˆ . sin ˆ ˆ
sin
1
2

.