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A primer on exterior differential calculus

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2003
JournalTheoretical & Applied Mechanics
Volume30
Number of pages78
Pages85-162
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

A pedagogical application-oriented introduction to the cal­culus of exterior differential forms on differential manifolds is presented. Stokes' theorem, the Lie derivative, linear con­nections and their curvature, torsion and non-metricity are discussed. Numerous examples using differential calculus are given and some detailed comparisons are made with their tradi­tional vector counterparts. In particular, vector calculus on R3 is cast in terms of exterior calculus and the traditional Stokes' and divergence theorems replaced by the more powerful exterior expression of Stokes' theorem. Examples from classical continuum mechanics and spacetime physics are discussed and worked through using the language of exterior forms. The numerous advantages of this calculus, over more traditional ma­chinery, are stressed throughout the article.