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Gauss theorem

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We now present the third great theorem of integral vector calculus. It is interesting that

Greens theorem is again the basic starting point. In Chapter 13 we saw how Greens theorem

directly translates to the case of surfaces in R

3

and produces Stokes theorem. Now we are

going to see how a reinterpretation of Greens theorem leads to Gauss theorem for R

2

, and

then we shall learn from that how to use the proof of Greens theorem to extend it to R

n

; the

result is called Gauss theorem for R

n

.

A. Greens theorem reinterpreted

We begin with the situation obtained in Section 12C for a region R in R

2

. With the

positive orientation for bdR, we have

__

R

f

x

dxdy =

_

bdR

fdy,

__

R

g

y

dxdy =

_

bdR

gdx.

We now consider a vector eld F = (F

1

, F

2

) on R, and we obtain from Greens theorem

__

R

_

F

1

x

+

F

2

y

_

dxdy =

_

bdR

F

1

dy F

2

dx.

(Notice if we were thinking in terms of Stokes theorem, we would put the minus sign on the

left side instead of the right.)

We now work on the line integral, rst writing it symbolically in the form

_

bdR

F (dy, dx).

We now express what this actually means. Of course, bdR may come in several disjoint pieces,

so we focus on just one such piece, say the closed curve = (t) = (

1

(t),

2

(t)), a t b.

Then the part of the line integral

corresponding to this piece is actually

_

b

a

F((t)) (

2

(t),

1

(t))dt.

R

2 Chapter 14

This in turn equals

_

b

a

F((t))

(

2

(t),

1

(t))

(t)

(t)dt.

The unit vector in the dot product has a beautiful geometric interpretation. Namely, it is

orthogonal to the unit tangent vector

(

1

(t),

2

(t))

(t)

,

and it is oriented 90

clockwise from the tangent vector. (You can use the matrix J of

Section 8D to see this, as

J

_

2

_

=

_

1

_

.

You can also think in complex arithmetic: i(

1

+ i

2

) =

2

i

1

, and multiplication by i

rotates 90

clockwise.)

Because the tangent direction

we conclude that the normal vector

(

2

(t),

1

(t))

(t)

points away from R:

N

Let us name this unit normal vector

N. Thus at each point (x, y) bdR, the vector

N(x, y)

at that point is determined by these requirements:

N has unit norm,

N is orthogonal to bdR,

N points outward from R.

Greens theorem has now been rewritten in the form

__

R

_

F

1

x

+

F

2

y

_

dxdy =

_

bdR

F

Ndvol

1

.

Gauss theorem 3

This result is precisely what is called Gauss theorem in R

2

. The integrand in the integral

over R is a special function associated with a vector eld in R

2

, and goes by the name the

divergence of F:

divF =

F

1

x

+

F

2

y

.

Again we can use the symbolic del vector

=

_

x

,

y

_

to write

divF = F.

Thus Gauss theorem asserts that

__

R

Fdvol

2

=

_

R

F

Ndvol

1

.

Notice that this nal result has the interesting feature that the orientation of the coordinate

system has completely disappeared.

B. Gauss theorem for R

n

It is very easy now to imagine what the correct extension to R

n

should be. This is very

dierent from our encounter with Stokes theorem, for which the nal result seems to be very

much tied to R

3

.

Suppose D R

n

is an open set with a reasonable boundary bdD. We dont want to

explain this further, except to say that at each point of bdD there is a normal vector

N such

that

N has unit norm,

N is orthogonal to bdD,

N points outward from D.

We are willing to allow corners and edges to some extent, but nothing too wild is to be

permitted.

Suppose F is a vector eld of class C

1

dened at least on clD, the closure of D. We dene

the divergence of F by the formula

divF = F =

F

1

x

1

+ +

F

n

x

n

.

4 Chapter 14

This is again the formal dot product

F =

_

x

1

, . . . ,

x

n

_

(F

1

, . . . , F

n

).

GAUSS THEOREM. Under the above hypotheses,

_

D

Fdvol

n

=

_

bdD

F

Ndvol

n1

.

We shall spend the remainder of this section discussing examples of the use of this theorem,

and shall give the proof in the next section.

First, apply the theorem to the very particular vector eld F(x) = x, so that F = n.

Then we obtain immediately

nvol

n

(D) =

_

bdD

x

Ndvol

n1

.

In particular, if D is the ball B(0, r) of radius r, we know vol

n

(D) =

n

r

n

. And bdD = the

sphere S(0, r), for which

N = x/r. Thus x

N = x

2

/r = r, so we obtain immediately from

Gauss theorem the equation

vol

n1

(S(0, a)) = n

n

r

n1

.

This formula was found with more eort in Section 11C.

For another example we examine an ellipsoid. Let A be a symmetric positive denite nn

matrix, and D the solid ellipsoid

D = {x R

n

| Ax x < 1}.

We know from Problem 1042 that

vol

n

(D) =

n

det A

.

We also have the gradient

Ax x = 2Ax,

so that in Gauss theorem

x

N =

Ax x

Ax

=

1

Ax

.

Gauss theorem 5

Thus we obtain

_

bdD

dvol

n1

Ax

=

n

det A

.

In particular, if A is the diagonal matrix with entries a

2

1

, . . . , a

2

n

, we obtain

_

x

2

1

a

2

1

++

x

2

n

a

2

n

=1

dvol

n1

_

x

2

1

a

4

1

+ +

x

2

n

a

4

n

=

n

a

1

. . . a

n

,

a result obtained in Problem 1128 with much more eort required.

PROBLEM 141. Prove that if f is a real-valued function and F is a vector eld,

then the product rule is valid:

(fF) = f F +f F.

PROBLEM 142. Prove these special relations for R

3

:

divergence of a curl = 0, i.e.

(F) = 0,

and

(F G) = G F F G.

Perhaps the most important use of the Gauss theorem is that it aords us a geometric

interpretation of divergence. This interpretation is in the same spirit as our previous dis-

cussions of gradient, in Section 2F, Geometric signicance of the gradient, and of curl , in

Section 13G, What is curl?

We approach this by rst understanding the geometry of the integral over bdD in the right

side of Gauss theorem. The terminology that is used derives from applications to uid ow

or electric elds. If F is a vector eld in R

n

and M is a hypermanifold for which a preferred

side has been chosen by naming a continuous unit normal vector

N, then F

N is the

component of F orthogonal to M, with a denite sign axed. Then the integral

_

M

F

Ndvol

n1

6 Chapter 14

in a sense measures the net amount of the vector eld that crosses M. This is usually called

the net ux of F across M.

Then the right side of Gauss theorem, the integral

_

bdD

F

Ndvol

n1

,

represents the net ux of the vector eld in the direction outward from D across its boundary.

Thus Gauss theorem becomes in words,

_

D

Fdvol

n

= ux of F out from D.

Now let x

0

R

n

be a xed point, and choose D to be the ball B(x

0

, ) with center x

0

and

radius . If is small, we have a good approximation

_

B(x

0

,)

Fdvol

n

F(x

0

) vol

n

(B(x

0

, )).

Thus we obtain the formula

F(x

0

) = lim

0

1

vol

n

(B(x

0

, ))

_

S(x

0

,)

F

Ndvol

n1

,

which we express in words as

F(x

0

) = the ux of F away from x

0

, per unit volume.

Hence the word divergence.

Once again, we have an amazing situation that although F was originally dened in a

way that crucially required a coordinate system, the fact is that the quotient

1

vol

n

(B(x

0

, ))

_

S(x

0

,)

F

Ndvol

n1

manifestly is independent of any coordinate system; therefore, its limit as 0, namely the

divergence of F at x

0

, is also completely determined geometrically.

PROTOEXAMPLE. This example in case n = 3 is the force eld of a unit electric charge

placed at the origin, or the gravitational eld of a unit mass at the origin. In the case n = 3

its called the inverse square law. For general n, we have to within a constant factor

F(x) =

x

x

n

.

Gauss theorem 7

Then we calculate from the product rule of Problem 141,

F =

x

x

n

+(x

n

) x

=

n

x

n

+ (nx

n2

x) x

=

n

x

n

nx

n2

x

2

= 0.

Of course we notice the crucial role here of the power n. It comes from the fact that on R

n

we have x = n. Thus on R

n

our vector eld is

F(x) =

x/x

x

n1

,

so its an inverse (n 1) power law.

Now we compute an easy case, the outward ux of F across the sphere S(0, a). As the

outward unit normal is

N = x/a, we nd

_

S(0,a)

F

Ndvol

n1

=

_

S(0,a)

x

a

n

x

a

dvol

n1

=

_

S(0,a)

a

2

a

n+1

dvol

n1

= vol

n1

(S(0, 1))

= n

n

.

O

NOTATION. In the present investigations the number n

n

is going to be appearing quite

often. Let us denote it as

n

= n

n

= vol

n1

(S(0, 1)).

That is,

n

is the measure of the unit sphere in R

n

. Thus

2

= 2,

3

= 4,

4

= 2

2

,

8 Chapter 14

and in general

n

=

2

n/2

(n/2)

(see p. 1115).

Now suppose D is a region in R

n

such that the origin is exterior to it; that is, 0 / clD.

Since F is well dened in clD and has zero divergence, Gauss theorem implies immediately

that

_

bdD

F

Ndvol

n1

= 0.

O

D

On the other hand, suppose the origin is in the interior of D: 0 D. Then we can prove

that

_

bdD

F

Ndvol

n1

=

n

.

This is seen very easily by using what is often called a safety ball. That is a ball B(0, )

whose radius is so small that clB(0, ) D.

D

Then D B(0, ) is safe in that the origin is not in it, so we have from the preceding case

_

bd(DB(0,))

F

Ndvol

n1

= 0.

But bd(D B(0, )) is composed of the two disjoint portions bdD and the sphere S(0, ).

Thus

_

bdD

F

Ndvol

n1

+

_

S(0,)

F

Ndvol

n1

= 0.

The latter integrand has

N = x/, as

N is oriented outward relative to D B(0, ). Thus

the latter integral is actually equal to

n

. This proves the desired equation.

Gauss theorem 9

Another viewpoint of the above analysis is to move the center of the eld from the origin

to an arbitrary point x

0

by translation. Then we obtain

_

bdD

x x

0

x x

0

n

Ndvol

n1

=

_

n

if x

0

D,

0 if x

0

clD.

The case x

0

bdD does not fall in either category.

PROBLEM 143. One might guess that for x

0

bdD

_

bdD

x x

0

x x

0

n

Ndvol

n1

=

1

2

n

.

Show that this is indeed the case if n = 2 and 3 and D is a ball (disk if n = 2).

PROBLEM 144. Show that the result of the preceding problem is valid for all n 2.

NAMES. In Russian texts Gauss theorem is called Ostrogradskis theorem. Its also frequently

called the divergence theorem.

C. The proof

In one sense the proof we give is a generalization of the proof of Greens theorem as given

in Chapter 12. The basic idea of integrating rst in the direction of the partial derivative in

the integrand is still the key ingredient of the proof. That is, we want to prove that for each

xed index i

_

D

F

i

x

i

dvol

n

=

_

bdD

F

i

N e

i

dvol

n1

,

and so we approach this by performing the x

i

-integration on the left side before the other

integrations. We then sum for i = 1, . . . , n, to obtain the theorem. In our analysis we may as

well replace the component F

i

with just a real-valued function f of class C

1

. Thus we need

to prove

_

D

f

x

i

dvol

n

=

_

bdD

fN

i

dvol

n1

, ()

where N

i

=

N e

i

is the i

th

component of the outer unit normal vector

N.

In another sense the proof we present here is much more ecient than the one we gave in

Chapter 12, as we employ a beautiful technical device to get around the troublesome details

about patching results together (see Section 12C). This technique is called a partition of unity.

10 Chapter 14

Here is a brief description of it. Suppose > 0 is given. Then there is a set of C

1

functions

1

, . . . ,

N

dened on R

n

such that

N

k=1

k

= 1 on clD,

for each k,

k

= 0 outside some ball of radius .

This is easier to prove than you might imagine. One rst chooses nonnegative

k

s with

the second property, such that their sum is positive on clD, and then each is normalized by

dividing by their sum. Incidentally, instead of C

1

we could use C

2

or C

3

etc., or even C

.

Using such a partition of unity, it suces to prove () for each product

k

f and then add

the results to achieve the theorem. Another way of expressing this is to say that we may

assume ab initio that f itself is zero except on some small ball.

There are now two separate cases to handle. The rst is the case in which the ball where

f is nonzero is contained in (the interior of) the open set D. Then the right side of () is zero

since its integrand fN

i

equals zero on bdD. But also the left side is zero, as we can write

_

D

f

x

i

dvol

n

=

_

R

n

f

x

i

dvol

n

Fubini

=

_

R

n1

__

f

x

i

dx

i

_

dvol

n1

and the inner integral

_

f

x

i

dx

i

= 0

by the fundamental theorem of calculus.

That was easy. The second case is not much harder but is very much more interesting. In

this case f is nonzero only in a small ball, but this ball intersects bdD. Here we explain the

philosophy behind our partition of unity. We choose the balls so small that when one of them

intersects bdD the open set D near that ball has a particular sort of description. Namely,

it can be represented as one side of a graph of a C

1

function. For instance, consider the

following typical situation:

D

Gauss theorem 11

The portion of D in the illustrated ball is described by an inequality of the form

x

j

> (x

1

, . . . , x

j1

, x

j+1

, . . . , x

n

).

(If the ball were on the right side of the picture, the dening inequality would appear as

x

j

< (x

1

, . . . , x

j1

, x

j+1

, . . . , x

n

).

We content ourselves with the rst case in the proof.)

We pause to streamline some of the notation. First, since f is zero outside the small ball,

we may as well assume f is dened for all x

j

satisfying the given inequality.

Second, we may as well arrange coordinates so that j = n. This merely has the eect of

greatly shortening the notation.

Third, we denote by x

= (x

1

, . . . , x

n1

) so that f is dened for all points x satisfying

x

n

> (x

), x

R,

where R R

n1

is some small ball.

We now have formulas for

N and dvol

n1

. Namely, since

N is the outward unit normal,

N =

(/x

1

, . . . , /x

n1

, 1)

_

2

+ 1

,

and

dvol

n1

=

_

2

+ 1 dx

1

. . . dx

n1

=

_

2

+ 1 dx

.

Thus

N

i

dvol

n1

=

_

/x

i

dx

if i = n,

dx

if i = n.

These formulas require us to nish with two dierent cases.

i = n In this easier case we have

_

D

f

x

n

dvol

n

Fubini

=

_

R

_

(x

)

f

x

n

dx

n

dx

FTC

=

_

R

f

x

n

=

x

n

=(x

)

dx

=

_

R

f(x

, (x

))dx

=

_

bdD

fN

n

dvol

n1

,

12 Chapter 14

and () is proved.

i = n Here we have to face the problem that doing the x

i

integration rst may not be so

feasible. We need to do the x

n

integration rst, so for each xed x

R we shall change

variables by setting

x

n

= (x

) + t.

Then 0 < t < and we have

_

D

f

x

i

dvol

n

Fubini

=

_

R

_

(x

)

f

x

i

(x

, x

n

)dx

n

dx

=

_

R

_

0

f

x

i

(x

, (x

) + t)dtdx

Fubini

=

_

R(0,)

f

x

i

(x

, (x

) + t)dtdx

chain rule

=

_

R(0,)

_

x

i

(f(x

, (x

) + t))

x

i

f

x

n

_

dtdx

.

We now have two integrations to perform. We handle the rst by doing the x

i

integration

rst. The result is zero, as for each xed t we essentially have

_

x

i

(f(x

, (x

) + t)) dx

i

FTC

= 0.

In the second integral we return from t to x

n

. Thus we have

_

D

f

x

i

dvol

n

=

_

R(0,)

x

i

f

x

n

(x

, (x

) + t)dtdx

=

_

R

x

i

_

(x

)

f

x

n

(x

, x

n

)dx

n

dx

FTC

=

_

R

x

i

f(x

, x

n

)

x

n

=

x

n

=(x

)

dx

=

_

R

x

i

f(x

, (x

))dx

=

_

bdD

fN

i

dvol

n1

.

This nishes the proof of Gauss theorem.

Gauss theorem 13

D. Gravity

The applications of Gauss theorem are quite diverse and important. Especially in the

rudiments of electricity and magnetism and in gravitation we nd the theorem playing an

important role. We content ourselves here with some observations on gravitation.

Isaac Newtons theory includes as an axiom that two point masses in R

3

attract one another

with an inverse square force. We of course are determined to generalize this to R

n

, where it

presumably makes no physical sense. So suppose we have a mass m

1

located at x R

n

and

another one m

2

located at y R

n

. Then the force at y due to the mass at x is equal to the

vector

Gm

1

m

2

x y

x y

n

,

where the number G > 0 is called the gravitational constant. We shall assume from now on

that G = 1.

One of the rst things that can be proved has to do with a mass distributed uniformly

over a sphere. We can set this situation up in the following way. Let us suppose the sphere

is centered at the origin, so that it equals S(0, a), where a is its radius. Let us suppose the

mass spread over this sphere is M. We say the mass density is the constant

M

vol

n1

(S(0, a))

=

M

n

a

n1

.

Now suppose that we have a unit point mass located at y. Then according to Newton the

force at y due to the mass spread over the sphere is given by the integral

_

S(0,a)

x y

x y

n

M

n

a

n1

dvol

n1

(x).

What we are going to do now is calculate this integral.

In doing the calculation we may choose coordinates to suit ourselves, so let us place the

positive n

th

coordinate direction pointing toward y. In other words, we assume that y = r e

n

,

where of course r = y.

O

14 Chapter 14

By symmetry we notice that the above integral, which is a vector, must have zero components

in the directions orthogonal to e

n

. Thus we may as well just compute the n

th

coordinate of

the integral, that is

M

n

a

n1

_

S(0,a)

x

n

r

x r e

n

n

dvol

n1

(x).

THE PHYSICAL CASE n = 3. It is quite impressive that the easiest dimension for performing

the above integral is n = 3. We now carry this out. First, we use the familiar result

x y

2

= x

2

2x y +y

2

to rewrite the denominator, obtaining

M

4a

2

_

S(0,a)

x

3

r

(a

2

2rx

3

+ r

2

)

3/2

dvol

2

(x).

Next use the usual spherical coordinates with x

3

= a cos , to obtain

M

4a

2

2

_

0

a cos r

(a

2

2ar cos + r

2

)

3/2

a

2

sin d

=

M

2

_

0

a cos r

(a

2

2ar cos + r

2

)

3/2

sin d.

PROBLEM 145. Physics texts know what to do here. Make the substitution

u = a

2

2ar cos + r

2

to change the dummy into u, and thus show that the above integral equals

_

_

M/r

2

if r > a,

M/2a

2

if r = a,

0 if 0 r < a.

The physical interpretation of this result is well known and extremely important. Namely,

at points outside the closed ball B(0, a) the gravitational attraction of the uniform mass spread

over the sphere is the same as if all the mass were concentrated at the center of the sphere.

At points in the interior B(0, a) of the ball, the gravitational attraction is zero. And at points

Gauss theorem 15

on the sphere S(0, a) itself, the gravitational attraction is the same as if all the mass were

concentrated at the center of the sphere, divided by 2.

PROBLEM 146. (not recommended) Repeat all of the above for the case n = 2.

The integration is much more dicult; a table of integrals might be helpful.

At this point you should be wondering what any of this has to do with Gauss theorem.

We now explain this. The direct calculation of the integral on the preceding page is quite a

formidable task. The case n = 3 is not so bad, but the case n = 2 is extremely dicult, and

one can imagine that the situation for general n could be even worse. Now we are going to

show how a combination of some beautiful Euclidean geometry and Gauss theorem enable us

to calculate the integral very easily.

INVERSION. The geometry we have just referred to is called inversion in a sphere. (See

pp. 634 and 723.) Suppose that S(0, a) is a sphere in R

n

and y R

n

. As you will see, we

must assume y = 0. We then say that the inversion of y is the point y

which is uniquely

dened by requiring that it lie on the ray from 0 through y and that yy

= a

2

. In other

words,

y

=

a

2

y

2

y.

Notice that

y

= y

and that

y

= y y S(0, a).

PROBLEM 147. Verify the following picture: we assume y > a and that a line

has been drawn from y tangent to the sphere at the point z. The picture is then in the

unique two-dimensional plane determined by 0, y, and z.

O

16 Chapter 14

PROBLEM 148. As in the preceding problem, verify this similar two-dimensional

depiction of the relation between y and y

.

O

N

S

Now we notice a very interesting phenomenon. If x S(0, a), then

x y

2

= x

2

2x y

+y

2

= a

2

2x

a

2

y

y

2

+

a

4

y

2

=

a

2

y

2

_

y

2

2x y + a

2

_

=

a

2

y

2

_

y

2

2x y +x

2

_

=

a

2

y

2

y x

2

.

That is,

x y

=

a

y

x y for all x S(0, a).

This equation is quite interesting, in that it shows that the ratio x y

/x y is constant

in its dependence on x S(0, a).

We now return to the calculation of the integral at the bottom of p. 1412. We of course

may assume y = 0, since when y = 0 the integral equals zero thanks to the oddness of

the integrand. By symmetry it is clear that the vector represented by this integral has zero

components in directions orthogonal to y; in other words,

M

n

a

n1

_

S(0,a)

x y

x y

n

dvol

n1

(x) = cy,

Gauss theorem 17

where c is a scalar. In other words, the gravitational attraction at y points toward the origin.

As we just need to calculate c, let us form the dot product of each side of the equation with

y, denoting r = y. We obtain

M

n

a

n1

_

S(0,a)

x y r

2

x y

n

dvol

n1

(x) = cr

2

.

As we are wanting to apply the divergence theorem, we would like the integrand to be presented

as the dot product of a vector eld with

N, which is equal to x/a. Therefore we write the

numerator

x y r

2

= x y

r

2

a

2

x x

=

_

y

r

2

a

2

x

_

x

=

_

y

r

2

a

2

x

_

a

N

=

r

2

a

_

x

a

2

r

2

y

_

N

=

r

2

a

(x y

)

N.

Aha! Notice how naturally the inversion y

c =

M

n

a

n

_

S(0,a)

x y

x y

n

Ndvol

n1

(x).

Now we utilize the relationship between x y and x y

to nd that

c =

M

n

r

n

_

S(0,a)

x y

x y

n

Ndvol

n1

(x).

We nd that we are in the situation of the protoexample of Section B. There are three

cases.

y > a In this case y

c =

M

r

n

.

18 Chapter 14

y < a In this case y

c = 0.

y = a In this case y

c =

M

2a

n

.

In summary, the gravitational attraction of a uniform mass distribution over a sphere in

R

n

behaves in the exterior of the sphere as if all the mass were concentrated at the center,

and is zero in the interior of the sphere. At points on the sphere itself, it is as if all the mass

were concentrated at the center, divided by 2.

E. Other dierentiation formulas

PROBLEM 149. In analogy with the formula for curlF given on p. 1322, suppose

that {

1

, . . . ,

n

} is an orthonormal basis for R

n

, and represent points in coordinates

relative to this basis as

x = t

1

1

+ + t

n

n

.

Then explain why

divF =

n

i=1

t

i

(F

i

).

PROBLEM 1410. Explain why the formula just presented can also be written in

terms of directional derivatives as

divF =

n

i=1

D(F

i

;

i

).

Then show that this formula remains true for a general orthogonal basis.

DEFINITION. Given a vector A R

n

, the rst-order dierential operator A is dened

by

(A )(f) = A f,

where f is a real-valued dierentiable function.

Gauss theorem 19

REMARK. Since both gradient and dot product have intrinsic meaning, so does this oper-

ator. In fact, it is clear that in terms of directional derivatives

(A )f(x) = Df(x; A).

PROBLEM 1411. Show that for vector elds F and G on R

3

we have

(F G) = ( G)F ( F)G + (G )F (F )G.

PROBLEM 1412. Show that for a vector eld F on R

3

,

(F) =

2

F +( F).

In this formula the Laplacian of F is the vector eld

2

F =

3

i=1

2

F

x

2

i

.

F. The vector potential

This section corresponds to Section 12F, where we considered the problem of nding a

(real valued) potential for a vector eld with zero curl. That is, given a vector eld F on R

3

satisfying F = 0, we sought a potential function f for which F = f. We based our

thinking on the dierentiation formula

f = 0

(see Section 13G).

The analogous formula we now investigate is the one which states

(G) = 0

for any C

2

vector eld G on R

3

(see Problem 142). We are thus naturally led to the following

question: if F is a vector eld on R

3

for which F = 0, does there exist a vector eld G

satisfying

F = G?

20 Chapter 14

The answer is yes, provided that F is a vector eld dened on all of R

3

. The proof amounts

to a rather logical procedure of integrating the above dierential equation for G. Before doing

this, note that there is a strong lack of uniqueness. For if F = G

1

and also F = G

2

,

then 0 = (G

1

G

2

). Thus from Section 12F we conclude that G

1

G

2

= f for some

function f. Conversely, since (f) = 0, we can always add to G any gradient eld without

changing the validity of F = G.

DEFINITION. A vector eld G satisfying the equation

F = G

is called a vector potential for the eld F.

THEOREM. Suppose F is a vector eld of class C

1

dened on all of R

3

, and suppose

F = 0. Then there exists a vector potential for F; this vector potential is unique up to the

addition of a gradient eld.

PROOF. The dierential equations which G must satisfy are

G

3

x

2

G

2

x

3

= F

1

,

G

1

x

3

G

3

x

1

= F

2

,

G

2

x

1

G

1

x

2

= F

3

.

This task seems daunting at rst glance. However, we may as well assume G

3

0, for we can

nd a function f whose gradient equals

f = (?, ?, G

3

)

by the simple device of writing

f(x) =

_

x

3

0

G(x

1

, x

2

, t)dt.

Then Gf has zero third component.

With G

3

= 0, the equations now become

G

2

x

3

= F

1

,

G

1

x

3

= F

2

,

G

2

x

1

G

1

x

2

= F

3

.

Gauss theorem 21

Now choose G

2

to be any function satisfying the rst of these equations. It remains to solve

for G

1

. Integrate the second equation to nd G

1

to within an additive function f(x

1

, x

2

):

G

1

= G

0

1

+ f(x

1

, x

2

).

Then we need to nd f so that the third equation is satised. That is,

f

x

2

= F

3

G

0

1

x

2

+

G

2

x

1

.

There is no problem integrating this equation, provided that its right side is independent of

x

3

. We check this easily:

x

3

_

F

3

G

0

1

x

2

+

G

2

x

1

_

=

F

3

x

3

2

G

0

1

x

3

x

2

+

2

G

2

x

3

x

1

=

F

3

x

3

2

G

0

1

x

2

x

3

+

2

G

2

x

1

x

3

=

F

3

x

3

F

2

x

2

F

1

x

1

= 0 by hypothesis.

QED

PROBLEM 1413. Show that the above procedure produces for a constant vector

eld F the vector potential G = (x

3

F

2

x

2

F

3

, x

3

F

1

, 0).

PROBLEM 1414. If F is constant we earlier calculated that

1

2

F x is a suitable

vector potential (see Problem 1310). Find a function f so that the solution of the

preceding problem satises

G

1

2

F x = f.

PROBLEM 1415. Using the notation of Problem 1311, suppose F(x) = Ax is a

linear vector eld. Prove that F = traceA. Supposing traceA = 0, nd a vector

potential G for F.

22 Chapter 14

PROBLEM 1416. Suppose f and g are real valued functions of class C

2

dened on

an open set D R

3

. Dene the vector eld

F = f g.

Prove that F = 0, and nd a vector potential for F which is dened on D.

(HINT: compute (fg).)

PROBLEM 1417. Show that the vector eld

F =

_

y

x

2

+ y

2

,

x

x

2

+ y

2

, 0

_

has zero divergence on R

3

(z-axis). Show that it has a vector potential of the form

f(x, y)

PROBLEM 1418*. Show that the vector eld

F =

_

x

x

2

+ y

2

,

y

x

2

+ y

2

, 0

_

has zero divergence on R

3

(z-axis), and nd a vector potential for F which is dened

on all of R

3

(z-axis).

PROBLEM 1419. (The analog of Section 12G.) Suppose that F is a C

1

vector eld

dened on a star shaped open set D R

3

. Suppose that F has zero divergence. Supposing

that D is star shaped with respect to the origin, dene the vector eld

G(x) =

_

1

0

F(tx) txdt.

Prove that

G = F.

Gauss theorem 23

PROBLEM 1420. Use the preceding problem to give another solution of Problem

1415, and show that the corresponding vector potential is

1

3

(Ax) x.

PROBLEM 1421. Consider the gravitational vector eld

F =

(x, y, z)

(x

2

+ y

2

+ z

2

)

3/2

on R

3

origin. It has zero divergence. Use the scheme of the general theorem of this

section to nd a vector potential. Show that you may reach an answer in the form

G =

z

(x

2

+ y

2

)

_

x

2

+ y

2

+ z

2

(y, x, 0).

PROBLEM 1422. The solution which you obtained for the preceding problem may

seem unsatisfactory, as it is not only badly behaved at the origin (necessarily), but also

on the entire z axis. Prove that in fact there is no vector potential for the gravitational

eld F dened on all of R

3

origin.

(HINT: supposing such a potential G would exist, compute

__

unit sphere

F

Ndarea

two dierent ways.)

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