This is documentation for Mathematica 3, which was
based on an earlier version of the Wolfram Language.
View current documentation (Version 11.2)
 Documentation / Mathematica / Add-ons / Standard Packages / Calculus  /

Calculus`VectorAnalysis`

A three-dimensional coordinate system assigns three numbers to each point in space. In defining a coordinate system, one must make a choice about what to measure and how to measure it. Frequently, physical systems exhibit special symmetries or structures that make a particular coordinate system especially useful. Often the main step in a mathematically elegant solution to problems related to these systems is choosing the correct coordinates.
A variety of tools for doing calculus in various three-dimensional coordinate systems are provided in this package. Because a given symbolic or numeric expression can mean different things in different coordinate systems, Mathematica must know what coordinate system you are using and what the coordinate variables are. The initial default coordinate system is Cartesian, with coordinate variables Xx, Yy, and Zz. If you are frequently working in another system it may be useful to change the default to that system using SetCoordinates.


Coordinate systems and coordinate variables.

  • This loads the package.
  • In[1]:= <<Calculus`VectorAnalysis`

  • This resets the default coordinate system and variables.
  • In[2]:= SetCoordinates[Paraboloidal[w1, w2, w3]]

    Out[2]=

  • Here are the new defaults.
  • In[3]:= {CoordinateSystem, Coordinates[ ]}

    Out[3]=

    All coordinate systems can be viewed as arising from three one-parameter families of surfaces. The three numbers assigned to each point (i.e., its coordinates) simply tell you to which member of each family the point belongs. Members of these families are called coordinate surfaces. In the simplest example, the Cartesian system, the coordinate surfaces are members of families of planes parallel to the coordinate planes. In more complicated systems, the coordinate surfaces often belong to families of quadric surfaces such as ellipsoids, hyperboloids or elliptic paraboloids. In certain cases the families of coordinate surfaces depend on parameters such as focal distances or radii. In these cases the coordinate system as a whole depends on the parameters. These parameters are initially given default values and can be reset with SetCoordinates.


    Coordinate systems.

    There are often conflicting definitions of a particular coordinate system in the literature. When you use a coordinate system with this package, you should look at the definition given below to make sure it is what you want. The easiest way to check the definition of a coordinate system used in the package is to use CoordinatesToCartesian[pt,coordsys] as described below. This will give you the formulas for the transformation into Cartesian coordinates.
    The Cartesian coordinate systemCartesian[x,y,z] is this standard rectangular coordinate system in three dimensions.
    The cylindrical coordinate systemCylindrical[r,theta,z] uses polar coordinates in the plane and a coordinate giving the height above this plane.
    In the spherical coordinate system

    Spherical[r,theta,phi], the coordinate gives the distance of the point from the origin, is the angle measured from the positive axis and the angle is measured in the plane from the positive axis.
    In the parabolic cylindrical coordinate system

    ParabolicCylindrical[u,v,z], varying only one of and while is held constant produces opposite facing parabolas. The coordinate specifies distances along the axis of common focus.
    In the paraboloidal coordinate system

    Paraboloidal[u,v,phi], varying only one of and while is held constant produces opposite facing parabolas. The coordinate specifies rotations about their common bisectors.
    The elliptic cylindrical coordinate system

    EllipticCylindrical[u,v,z,a] is built around two foci separated by . Holding constant while varying the other variables produces a family of confocal ellipses. Holding fixed produces a family of confocal hyperbolas. The coordinate specifies distances along the axis of common focus. The default value for is .
    The prolate spheroidal coordinate system

    ProlateSpheroidal[xi,eta,phi,a] is obtained by rotating elliptic cylindrical coordinates about the axis connecting the two foci. The coordinate parameterizes the rotation. The default value for is .
    The oblate spheroidal coordinate system

    OblateSpheroidal[xi,eta,phi,a] is obtained by rotating elliptic cylindrical coordinates about an axis perpendicular to the axis connecting the two foci. The coordinate parameterizes the rotation. The default value for is .
    The bipolar coordinate system

    Bipolar[u,v,z,a] is built around two foci separated by . Holding fixed produces a family of circles that pass through both foci. Holding fixed produces a family of degenerate ellipses about one of the foci. The coordinate parameterizes distance along the common foci. The default value for is .
    The bispherical coordinate system

    Bispherical[u,v,phi,a] differs from the bipolar system only in that the third coordinate measures an azimuthal angle.
    The toroidal coordinate systemToroidal[u,v,phi,a] is obtained by rotating bipolar coordinates about an axis perpendicular to the axis connecting the two foci. The coordinate parameterizes the rotation. The default value for is .
    In the conical coordinate system

    Conical[lambda,mu,nu,a,b], the coordinate surfaces for fixed are spheres centered at the origin; for constant they are cones with apexes at the origin and axes along the axis; for constant they are cones with apexes at the origin and with axes along the axis. The default values for and are and , respectively.
    In the confocal ellipsoidal coordinate system

    ConfocalEllipsoidal[lambda,mu,nu,a,b,c], the coordinate surfaces for fixed are ellipsoids; for constant they are hyperboloids of one sheet; for constant they are hyperboloids of two sheets. The default values for , and are , and , respectively.
    In the confocal paraboloidal coordinate system

    ConfocalParaboloidal[lambda,mu,nu,a,b], the coordinate surfaces for fixed are elliptic paraboloids extending in the negative direction; for fixed they are hyperbolic paraboloids; for constant they are elliptic paraboloids extending in the positive direction. The default values for and are and

    , respectively.


    The range of coordinate variables and parameters.

  • This gives the default coordinate variables and their ranges for the the Conical system.
  • In[4]:= {Coordinates[Conical],
    CoordinateRanges[Conical]}

    Out[4]=

  • This means that the Bipolar system has one parameter that must be a positive number. The default value of this parameter is 1.
  • In[5]:= {Parameters[Bipolar],
    ParameterRanges[Bipolar]}

    Out[5]=

  • This resets the Bipolar variables and parameter.
  • In[6]:= SetCoordinates[Bipolar[u, v, z, 2]]

    Out[6]=

  • In the Conical system there are two parameters, and the second must always be larger than the first.
  • In[7]:= {Parameters[Conical],
    ParameterRanges[Conical]}

    Out[7]=


    Converting from and to Cartesian coordinates.

  • This gives Cartesian coordinates of the point whose Spherical coordinates are {1,Pi/2,Pi/4}.
  • In[8]:= CoordinatesToCartesian[{1, Pi/2, Pi/4},
    Spherical]

    Out[8]=

  • You get the general coordinate transformation formula when you give the variables in symbolic form.
  • In[9]:= CoordinatesToCartesian[{u, v, phi},
    Paraboloidal]

    Out[9]=

  • Here are the formulas for changing from Cartesian to Bispherical coordinates.
  • In[10]:= CoordinatesFromCartesian[{x, y, z},
    Bispherical]

    Out[10]=

    The standard vector product operations such as the dot and cross product are usually defined and computed in the Cartesian coordinate system. If you have vectors given in a different coordinate system, you can compute vector products using DotProduct, CrossProduct, and ScalarTripleProduct. These functions convert the given vectors into Cartesian coordinates and then compute the products using the standard definitions.


    Computing vector products in various coordinate systems.

  • This sets the default coordinate system to ParabolicCylindrical with default variables.
  • In[11]:= SetCoordinates[ParabolicCylindrical[ ]]

    Out[11]=

  • This converts the vectors from the default system to Cartesian coordinates and then computes the scalar product.
  • In[12]:= DotProduct[{1.2, 1.1, 0}, {5.4, -2, 1.2}]

    Out[12]=

  • Viewed geometrically, the scalar triple product gives the volume of the parallelepiped spanned by the three vectors.
  • In[13]:= ScalarTripleProduct[{1, 0, 0}, {0, 1, 0},
    {0, 0, 1}, Cartesian]

    Out[13]=


    Differential arc length element.

    In Cartesian coordinates the differential arc length element is just . When you compute an integral along a parameterized curve in another coordinate system, you need to use the form appropriate to the coordinate system. To get the integral along the curve you must plug the parameterization into the arc length element, compute the appropriate derivatives, and then integrate with respect to the parameter. The function ArcLengthFactor

    takes the parameterization as an argument and returns the formula for the derivative of the arc length along the curve.

  • This gives the parameterization of an ascending helix.
  • In[14]:= param = {Cos[t], Sin[t], t}

    Out[14]=

  • This means that the derivative of the arc length with respect to along the helix is . If we think of the parameterization as describing the motion of a particle in Cartesian coordinates, this just means that the speed of the particle is

    .
  • In[15]:= ArcLengthFactor[
    param, t, Cartesian] //Simplify

    Out[15]=

  • Here is a scalar-valued function on three space.
  • In[16]:= f[{x_, y_, z_}] := x^2 y^2 z

  • This gives the integral of the function along the helix.
  • In[17]:= Integrate[ f[param] ArcLengthFactor[
    param, t, Cartesian], {t, 0, 2 Pi}] // Simplify

    Out[17]=

    The derivative of a coordinate transformation is the matrix of its partial derivatives. In the case of three-dimensional coordinate systems this is always a three by three matrix. This matrix is sometimes called the Jacobian matrix. The determinant of this matrix is called the Jacobian determinant of the transformation, or else just the Jacobian. This determinant measures how infinitesimal volumes change under the transformation. For this reason, the Jacobian determinant is the multiplicative factor needed to adjust the differential volume form when you change coordinates.


    The transformation matrix derivative, its determinant, and scale factors.

  • This is the matrix of partial derivatives of the transformation from Spherical to Cartesian coordinates.
  • In[18]:= JacobianMatrix[Spherical[r, theta, phi]]

    Out[18]=

  • The determinant of the derivative of the coordinate transformation gives the infinitesimal change in volume.
  • In[19]:= JacobianDeterminant[Spherical[r, theta, phi]]

    Out[19]=

  • This triple integral computes the integral of the function over a solid sphere of radius using spherical coordinates. Note that the Jacobian is included in the integrand, because the integral is expressed in Spherical

    coordinates.
  • In[20]:= Integrate[r^2 JacobianDeterminant[
    Spherical[r, theta, phi]],
    {r, 0, 2}, {theta, 0, Pi},
    {phi, -Pi, Pi}]

    Out[20]=


    Common differential operations.

    As is the case with the vector products discussed above, the common differential operations in three dimensions are defined in terms of Cartesian coordinates. If you are working in another coordinate system and you wish to compute these quantities, you must, in principle, first transform into the Cartesian system and then do the calculation. When you specify the coordinate system in functions like Laplacian, Grad, etc., this transformation is done automatically.

  • Here is the usual gradient.
  • In[21]:= Grad[5 x^2 y^3 z^4, Cartesian[x, y, z]]

    Out[21]=

  • This gradient is different, because we are treating the function as being in ProlateSpheroidal coordinates with the (nonstandard) variables x, y, and z.
  • In[22]:= Grad[5 x^2 y^3 z^4,
    ProlateSpheroidal[x, y, z]]

    Out[22]=

  • If you give an unknown function, the result is returned in symbolic form.
  • In[23]:= Curl[{f[r, theta, phi], g[r, theta, phi],
    h[r, theta, phi]}, Cylindrical[r, theta, phi]]

    Out[23]=