From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Four-tensors)
Jump to: navigation, search

Four-tensor is a frequent abbreviation for a tensor in a four-dimensional spacetime.[1]


General four-tensors are usually written as A^{\mu_1,\mu_2,...,\mu_n}_{\;\nu_1,\nu_2,...,\nu_m}, with the indices taking integral values from 0 to 3. Such a tensor is said to have contravariant rank n and covariant rank m.[1]


One of the simplest non-trivial examples of a four-tensor is the four-displacement x^\mu=\left(x^0, x^1, x^2, x^3\right), a four-tensor with contravariant rank 1 and covariant rank 0. Four-tensors of this kind are usually known as four-vectors. Here the component x^0=ct gives the displacement of a body in time (time is multiplied by the speed of light c so that x^0 has dimensions of length). The remaining components of the four-displacement form the spatial displacement vector \mathbf{x}.[1]

Similarly, the four-momentum p^{\mu}=\left(E/c,p_x,p_y,p_z\right) of a body is equivalent to the energy-momentum tensor of said body. The element p^0=E/c represents the momentum of the body as a result of it travelling through time (directly comparable to the internal energy of the body). The elements p^1, p^2 and p^3 correspond to the momentum of the body as a result of it travelling through space, written in vector notation as \mathbf{p}.[1]

The electromagnetic field tensor is an example of a rank two contravariant tensor:[1]

F^{\mu\nu} = \begin{pmatrix}
0 & -E_x/c & -E_y/c & -E_z/c\\ 
E_x/c & 0 & -B_z & B_y\\ 
E_y/c & B_z & 0 & -B_x\\ 
E_z/c & -B_y & B_x & 0

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Lambourne, Robert J A. Relativity, Gravitation and Cosmology. Cambridge University Press. 2010.