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Divergence is more general than described[edit]

I changed the maths rating from

WikiProject Mathematics (Rated C-class, High-importance)
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WikiProject Mathematics (Rated C-class, High-importance)
WikiProject Mathematics
This article is within the scope of WikiProject Mathematics, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Mathematics on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Mathematics rating:
C Class
High Importance
 Field:  Basics
One of the 500 most frequently viewed mathematics articles.

This article should be about divergence in a more general setting (as opposite of convergence than about it in an analysis alone,

Hope someone will improve it WillemienH (talk) 11:13, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

Non-general definition[edit]

The definition of divergence, it seems to me, should be defined for any amount of variables. Am I wrong in this, or can a four variable function have a divergence as well? Fresheneesz 20:48, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

The divergence is of course defined in any dimension. But it makes most sense in 3D only, as ther it behaves nicely with the curl, and has a physical interpretation. I will now add a mention of the general case. I would be opposed to rewriting this article from the n-dimenional perspective, as a lot of the physics would be lost, I think. Oleg Alexandrov (talk) 02:59, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

Initial example[edit]

The example of water in a bathtub can be confusing. Water does not 'vanish', and the divergence of water flow is in fact very close to zero. I've changed this to air expanding to some level which is a better example. PCM —This unsigned comment is by Paul Matthews (talkcontribs) .

On further reflection, I think you are right. Oleg Alexandrov (talk) 02:09, 15 March 2006 (UTC)

actually i want to ask that if ▼.B is equal to B.▼.... if it is i just cant understand its physical ▼.B means a operator is operating over B but what then B.▼ implies?? 17:18, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

You're wrong, ▼.B != B.▼ — Preceding unsigned comment added by Thedoctar (talkcontribs) 08:22, 7 January 2013 (UTC)


I think definition should be as general as possible. therefore,

Eventually, in 3D orthogonal system, this expression becomes the known one.

Nevo taaseh 11:32, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

I think it is preferrable that definitions start simple, not general. Things can be generalized later I believe, once the basic concept is clear. No? :) Oleg Alexandrov (talk) 15:06, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
I definitely agree with the concept of simpler things first. But, I would argue that an arbitrary V is actually simpler then that of a sphere. Barring that a rectangular parallel piped of Volume dxdydz would be simpler. This volume has the advantage that it is much easier to demonstrate the divergence theorem with then spherical coordinates. TStein (talk) 13:29, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Abuse of notation[edit]

Is ·F actually an abuse of notation? is a vector and can operate on scalar or vector quantities. If it operates on a vector, then one needs to know if it performs a scalar product or a cross product, see curl (xF).

I agree that it is not an abuse of notation. ALittleSlow 02:02, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

I think it's totally an abuse of notation. The dot product is just an inner product, so the elements on the left and right of the dot must be in the same vector space. Only when you choose an orthonormal basis for R^n is the dot product defined by the familiar formula given here. is clearly not an element of R^n, which is why this expression is an abuse of notation. (talk) 18:14, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

I get the logic that the representation of an operator should ideally be something like div(f), but is it not still perfectly true to write that div(f) = .f, and also div(f) = .f ?
Can someone expand on the comment above that " is clearly not an element of R^n"? Specifically, on the linked WP article on del, it is currently written: Though this page chiefly treats del in three dimensions, this definition can be generalized to the n-dimensional Euclidean space Rn.
—DIV ( (talk) 23:43, 1 April 2014 (UTC))


This article could do with a nice visualization as in the gradient article —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:47, 26 October 2007 (UTC) sad —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:15, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 09:48, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

More definition concerns[edit]

From the definition section:

Let x, y, z be a system of Cartesian coordinates..

AFAIK the divergence operator can be defined in other coordinates, right?Mathchem271828 (talk) 06:59, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

scalar field[edit]

Should it say somewhere that the result is a scalar field not just a scalar? --Kupirijo (talk) 23:27, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

The terms 'source' and 'circulation'[edit]

Is there a better standard for the terms 'source' and circulation. For instance if

divF = D, and
curlF = C,

then what do we call D and C?

If we call D the 'source' then what do we call C? The term 'circulation' seems to be used already for the line integral around a given path.

I am biased toward using 'outflow source' for D and 'circulation source' for C as that fits well with how I teach the Electricity and Magnetism course I teach. (In this pedagogical approach the divergence is defined by the divergence theorem (fundamental theorem of the divergence) as the outflow density while the curl is defined as a circulation density by the fundamental theorem of the curl. Even I must admit, though, that this approach is both wordy and to some extent incomplete. For it is generalizing the term source as anything that 'creates' or perhaps 'induces' the field F yet there can be a field F even when D and C are both zero. (This field is as far as I can tell with my math background limited to physics math is due to some sort of 'strain' type 'zero-trace symmetric tensor source' which can be determined everywhere by the boundary conditions.)

I would like to be able to contribute more of a physics view to the article, but I don't want to ruin it for the mathematicians. Any help with this would be appreciated. TStein (talk) 13:55, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

I may be missing something, but isn't the standard term for D the divergence and C the curl? Why introduce new terms? I think the terms 'source' and 'circulation' should actually refer to the parts of F with zero curl and divergence respectively (actually the zero divergence part is usually called solenoidal). This is made precise through the Helmholtz, or Hodge, or Hodge-Morrey, or some other decomposition. One way to see that D and C both zero does not imply that F is zero is to note that for any harmonic function (harmonic means zero Laplacian) h, the gradient of h has zero curl and zero divergence. It is also possible to make a similar construction based on 2-tensors. This is all related to the deRahm cohomology of the underlying domain. (talk) 17:51, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Visual aids[edit]

I think this article could use some more visual aids. There should, in particular, be a diagram with the graph of a vector field and a circle showing vectors entering and exiting. I can make some Sage pictures if people want. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Wham Bam Rock II (talkcontribs) 21:45, 6 January 2013 (UTC)

Questions about the cartesian coordinates expression for 2nd order tensors[edit]

I might be mistaken, but I've seen different cartesian expressions for the divergence of second order tensors from several academic and educational sources. Using Einstein's notation, the one in the article would be

It is coherent with the one used by Poinsot and Veynante (trusted authors in combustion sciences) in their combustion textbook. In other sources, such as Sébastien Candel's fluid mechanics textbook (renowned and trusted physicist, known for his contribution to the fields of combustion and acoustics)

Both expressions are equivalent for symmetric tensors (which is true for the viscous stress tensor) but not for nonsymmetric ones, of course. I'm guessing the first expression, more coherent with the nabla notation, is the correct one. Would it be relevant to warn readers about this frequent and confusing "mistake"? (Which is, in fact, not exactly one, since it is correct in the cases considered.) M4urice (talk) 10:53, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

The example for a 2nd order tensor in the main article was based on the second convention but the link to the reference was broken. I have found a more recent version of the reference where I could verify that they also suggest the first convention which in my opinion is clearly more common. So I have fixed the example for the divergence of a 2nd order tensor to use the first convention and updated the broken reference. --Logari81 (talk) 07:34, 11 November 2015 (UTC)


Why does this, and related articles, have no mention of the history. Who developed the concept originally? Who devised the notation? —DIV ( (talk) 23:45, 1 April 2014 (UTC))

More Visualization[edit]

One of the problems that I have with the Wikipedia on math topics is they quickly ascend to "Equation Land" leaving virtually everyone else behind on the topics they are trying to describe.

I'm not a math guy but I think that rather than the uber-complex Calculus equations we see something like this may be more relevant to the general masses:

I agree that documenting the precise definitions are important but if we leave the general population behind more high-school and undergrads will abandon the field because they just don't get it.

For example check out "Field 12"... I see the beginning of the understanding of wing tip vortices (yes I understand that this article is about electromagnetics).

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Lesds (talkcontribs) 06:40, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Divergence is invariant under linear transformations[edit]

Divergence is invariant under any invertible linear transformation of the vector field and its domain, not just orthogonal transformations. Let be an invertible linear transformation applied to vector field and its domain. Define The precise relationship between the transformed vector field and the original vector field is (since the domain of is also transformed by ). So the chain rule shows that the relationship between the Jacobian matrices of and is

So the trace of must equal the trace of Jrheller1 (talk) 19:23, 10 August 2016 (UTC)

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This article's title is potentially confusing[edit]

This article is about divergence in vector calculus, but its title is simply Divergence, which has various other common meanings (such as divergence (statistics) and divergence (infinite series)). Should we rename this article to Divergence (vector calculus) so that the links to this article can be disambiguated more easily? Jarble (talk) 00:09, 16 July 2017 (UTC)