In

^{'' j''}_{''i''} are the entries of the change of basis matrix, and in the rightmost expression the ^{''i''} of a column vector v transform with the _{''i''}, of a covector (or row vector), w transform with the matrix ''R'' itself,
:$\backslash hat\_i\; =\; w\_j\; R^j\_i\; .$
This is called a ''covariant'' transformation law, because the covector components transforms by the ''same matrix'' as the change of basis matrix. The components of a more general tensor transform by some combination of covariant and contravariant transformations, with one transformation law for each index. If the transformation matrix of an index is the inverse matrix of the basis transformation, then the index is called ''contravariant'' and is conventionally denoted with an upper index (superscript). If the transformation matrix of an index is the basis transformation itself, then the index is called ''covariant'' and is denoted with a lower index (subscript).
As a simple example, the matrix of a linear operator with respect to a basis is a rectangular array $T$ that transforms under a change of basis matrix $R\; =\; \backslash left(R^j\_i\backslash right)$ by $\backslash hat\; =\; R^TR$. For the individual matrix entries, this transformation law has the form $\backslash hat^\_\; =\; \backslash left(R^\backslash right)^\_i\; T^i\_j\; R^j\_$ so the tensor corresponding to the matrix of a linear operator has one covariant and one contravariant index: it is of type (1,1).
Combinations of covariant and contravariant components with the same index allow us to express geometric invariants. For example, the fact that a vector is the same object in different coordinate systems can be captured by the following equations, using the formulas defined above:
:$\backslash mathbf\; =\; \backslash hat^i\; \backslash ,\backslash mathbf\_i\; =\; \backslash left(\; \backslash left(R^\backslash right)^i\_j\; ^j\; \backslash right)\; \backslash left(\; \backslash mathbf\_k\; R^k\_i\; \backslash right)\; =\; \backslash left(\; \backslash left(R^\backslash right)^i\_j\; R^k\_i\; \backslash right)\; ^j\; \backslash mathbf\_k\; =\; \backslash delta\_j^k\; ^j\; \backslash mathbf\_k\; =\; ^k\; \backslash ,\backslash mathbf\_k\; =\; ^i\; \backslash ,\backslash mathbf\_i$,
where $\backslash delta^k\_j$ is the

^{∗} is the corresponding ^{∗},
:$T^\_\; \backslash equiv\; T\backslash left(\backslash boldsymbol^,\; \backslash ldots,\backslash boldsymbol^,\; \backslash mathbf\_,\; \backslash ldots,\; \backslash mathbf\_\backslash right),$
a -dimensional array of components can be obtained. A different choice of basis will yield different components. But, because ''T'' is linear in all of its arguments, the components satisfy the tensor transformation law used in the multilinear array definition. The multidimensional array of components of ''T'' thus form a tensor according to that definition. Moreover, such an array can be realized as the components of some multilinear map ''T''. This motivates viewing multilinear maps as the intrinsic objects underlying tensors.
In viewing a tensor as a multilinear map, it is conventional to identify the double dual ''V''^{∗∗} of the vector space ''V'', i.e., the space of linear functionals on the dual vector space ''V''^{∗}, with the vector space ''V''. There is always a natural linear map from ''V'' to its double dual, given by evaluating a linear form in ''V''^{∗} against a vector in ''V''. This linear mapping is an isomorphism in finite dimensions, and it is often then expedient to identify ''V'' with its double dual.

^{∗∗}, which consists of multilinear forms of degree one on ''V''^{∗}. It is typical in linear algebra to identify spaces that are naturally isomorphic, treating them as the same space. Constructions of spaces of tensors based on the tensor product and multilinear mappings can be generalized, essentially without modification, to

^{(v)}, which is the force (per unit area) exerted by material on the negative side of the plane orthogonal to v against the material on the positive side of the plane, thus expressing a relationship between these two vectors, shown in the figure (right). The

basis
Basis may refer to:
Finance and accounting
*Adjusted basisIn tax accounting, adjusted basis is the net cost of an asset after adjusting for various tax-related items.
Adjusted Basis or Adjusted Tax Basis refers to the original cost or other b ...

of a real vector space, e.g., a coordinate frame in the ambient space, a tensor can be represented as an organized

^{∗} by first decomposing the tensor into a linear combination of simple tensors, and then applying a factor from ''V''^{∗} to a factor from ''V''. For example, a tensor $T\; \backslash in\; V\backslash otimes\; V\backslash otimes\; V^*$ can be written as a linear combination
:$T\; =\; v\_1\backslash otimes\; w\_1\backslash otimes\; \backslash alpha\_1\; +\; v\_2\backslash otimes\; w\_2\backslash otimes\; \backslash alpha\_2\; +\backslash cdots\; +\; v\_N\backslash otimes\; w\_N\backslash otimes\; \backslash alpha\_N.$
The contraction of ''T'' on the first and last slots is then the vector
:$\backslash alpha\_1(v\_1)w\_1\; +\; \backslash alpha\_2(v\_2)w\_2\; +\; \backslash cdots\; +\; \backslash alpha\_N(v\_N)w\_N.$
In a vector space with an

differential geometry
Differential geometry is a Mathematics, mathematical discipline that studies the geometry of smooth shapes and smooth spaces, otherwise known as smooth manifolds, using the techniques of differential calculus, integral calculus, linear algebra a ...

are quadratic forms such as metric tensors, and the

An Introduction to Tensors for Students of Physics and Engineering

by Joseph C. Kolecki, Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, released by NASA

Foundations of Tensor Analysis for Students of Physics and Engineering With an Introduction to the Theory of Relativity

by Joseph C. Kolecki, Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, released by NASA

A discussion of the various approaches to teaching tensors, and recommendations of textbooks

*

{{Authority control Concepts in physics Tensors,

mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and their changes (cal ...

, a tensor is an algebraic object that describes a multilinear relationship between sets of algebraic objects related to a vector space
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). ...

. Objects that tensors may map between include vectors
Vector may refer to:
Biology
*Vector (epidemiology), an agent that carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism; a disease vector
*Vector (molecular biology), a DNA molecule used as a vehicle to artificially carr ...

and scalars, and even other tensors. There are many types of tensors, including scalars and vectors
Vector may refer to:
Biology
*Vector (epidemiology), an agent that carries and transmits an infectious pathogen into another living organism; a disease vector
*Vector (molecular biology), a DNA molecule used as a vehicle to artificially carr ...

(which are the simplest tensors), dual vector
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...

s, multilinear maps between vector spaces, and even some operations such as the dot product
In mathematics, the dot product or scalar productThe term ''scalar product'' is often also used more generally to mean a symmetric bilinear form, for example for a pseudo-Euclidean space. is an algebraic operation that takes two equal-length seque ...

. Tensors are defined independent
Independent or Independents may refer to:
Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups
* Independents (artist group), a group of modernist painters based in the New Hope, Pennsylvania, area of the United States during the early 1930s
* Independent ...

of any basis
Basis may refer to:
Finance and accounting
*Adjusted basisIn tax accounting, adjusted basis is the net cost of an asset after adjusting for various tax-related items.
Adjusted Basis or Adjusted Tax Basis refers to the original cost or other b ...

, although they are often referred to by their components in a basis related to a particular coordinate system.
Tensors have become important in physics
Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

because they provide a concise mathematical framework for formulating and solving physics problems in areas such as mechanics
Mechanics (Greek#REDIRECT Greek
Greek may refer to:
Greece
Anything of, from, or related to Greece
Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximat ...

( stress, elasticity, fluid mechanics
Fluid mechanics is the branch of physics
Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in o ...

, moment of inertia
The moment of inertia, otherwise known as the mass moment of inertia, angular mass, second moment of mass, or most accurately, rotational inertia, of a rigid body
In physics
Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its ...

, ...), electrodynamics
Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electric charge, electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force is carried by electromagneti ...

(electromagnetic tensor
In electromagnetism
Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electric charge, electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force is ...

, Maxwell tensor, permittivity
In electromagnetism
Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electric charge, electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force is car ...

, magnetic susceptibility
In electromagnetism
Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electric charge, electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force is carr ...

, ...), or general relativity
General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the geometric
Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; '' geo-'' "earth", '' -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathema ...

(stress–energy tensor
The stress–energy tensor, sometimes called the stress–energy–momentum tensor or the energy–momentum tensor, is a tensor physical quantity that describes the density and flux of energy and momentum in spacetime, generalizing the Cauchy str ...

, curvature tensor, ...) and others. In applications, it is common to study situations in which a different tensor can occur at each point of an object; for example the stress within an object may vary from one location to another. This leads to the concept of a tensor field
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and t ...

. In some areas, tensor fields are so ubiquitous that they are often simply called "tensors".
Tullio Levi-Civita
Tullio Levi-Civita, (, ; 29 March 1873 – 29 December 1941) was an Italians, Italian mathematician, most famous for his work on absolute differential calculus (tensor calculus) and its applications to the theory of relativity, but who also made s ...

and Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro
Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro (; 12January 1925) was an Italian mathematician
A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity ( ...

popularised tensors in 1900 – continuing the earlier work of Bernhard Riemann
Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann (; 17 September 1826 – 20 July 1866) was a German mathematician
A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics ...

and Elwin Bruno Christoffel#REDIRECT Elwin Bruno Christoffel
Elwin Bruno Christoffel (; November 10, 1829 – March 15, 1900) was a German mathematician
A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek ...

and others – as part of the ''absolute differential calculus
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...

''. The concept enabled an alternative formulation of the intrinsic differential geometry
Differential geometry is a Mathematics, mathematical discipline that studies the geometry of smooth shapes and smooth spaces, otherwise known as smooth manifolds, using the techniques of differential calculus, integral calculus, linear algebra a ...

of a manifold
The real projective plane is a two-dimensional manifold that cannot be realized in three dimensions without self-intersection, shown here as Boy's surface.
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of su ...

in the form of the Riemann curvature tensor
In the mathematical field of differential geometry
Differential geometry is a Mathematics, mathematical discipline that uses the techniques of differential calculus, integral calculus, linear algebra and multilinear algebra to study problems i ...

.
Definition

Although seemingly different, the various approaches to defining tensors describe the same geometric concept using different language and at different levels of abstraction.As multidimensional arrays

A tensor may be represented as an array (potentially multidimensional). Just as avector
Vector may refer to:
Biology
*Vector (epidemiology)
In epidemiology
Epidemiology is the study and analysis of the distribution (who, when, and where), patterns and risk factor, determinants of health and disease conditions in defined pop ...

in an -dimensional
File:Dimension levels.svg, thumb
, 236px
, The first four spatial dimensions, represented in a two-dimensional picture.
In physics and mathematics, the dimension of a mathematical space (or object) is informally defined as the minimum numb ...

space is represented by a one-dimensional array with components with respect to a given basis
Basis may refer to:
Finance and accounting
*Adjusted basisIn tax accounting, adjusted basis is the net cost of an asset after adjusting for various tax-related items.
Adjusted Basis or Adjusted Tax Basis refers to the original cost or other b ...

, any tensor with respect to a basis is represented by a multidimensional array. For example, a linear operator
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). I ...

is represented in a basis as a two-dimensional square array. The numbers in the multidimensional array are known as the ''scalar components'' of the tensor or simply its ''components''. They are denoted by indices giving their position in the array, as subscripts and superscripts, following the symbolic name of the tensor. For example, the components of an order tensor could be denoted , where and are indices running from to , or also by . Whether an index is displayed as a superscript or subscript depends on the transformation properties of the tensor, described below. Thus while and can both be expressed as ''n'' by ''n'' matrices, and are numerically related via index juggling, the difference in their transformation laws indicates it would be improper to add them together. The total number of indices required to identify each component uniquely is equal to the dimension
In physics
Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular s ...

of the array, and is called the ''order'', ''degree'' or ''rank'' of the tensor. However, the term "rank" generally has another meaning in the context of matrices and tensors.
Just as the components of a vector change when we change the basis
Basis may refer to:
Finance and accounting
*Adjusted basisIn tax accounting, adjusted basis is the net cost of an asset after adjusting for various tax-related items.
Adjusted Basis or Adjusted Tax Basis refers to the original cost or other b ...

of the vector space, the components of a tensor also change under such a transformation. Each type of tensor comes equipped with a ''transformation law'' that details how the components of the tensor respond to a change of basis
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...

. The components of a vector can respond in two distinct ways to a change of basis
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...

(see covariance and contravariance of vectors
In probability theory
Probability theory is the branch of mathematics concerned with probability. Although there are several different probability interpretations, probability theory treats the concept in a rigorous mathematical manner by expre ...

), where the new basis vectors
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). I ...

$\backslash mathbf\_i$ are expressed in terms of the old basis vectors $\backslash mathbf\_j$ as,
:$\backslash mathbf\_i\; =\; \backslash sum\_^n\; \backslash mathbf\_j\; R^j\_i\; =\; \backslash mathbf\_j\; R^j\_i\; .$
Here ''R''summation
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...

sign was suppressed: this is the Einstein summation convention
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...

, which will be used throughout this article.The Einstein summation convention, in brief, requires the sum to be taken over all values of the index whenever the same symbol appears as a subscript and superscript in the same term. For example, under this convention $B\_i\; C^i\; =\; B\_1\; C^1\; +\; B\_2\; C^2\; +\; \backslash cdots\; B\_n\; C^n$ The components ''v''inverse
Inverse or invert may refer to:
Science and mathematics
* Inverse (logic), a type of conditional sentence which is an immediate inference made from another conditional sentence
* Additive inverse (negation), the inverse of a number that, when add ...

of the matrix ''R'',
:$\backslash hat^i\; =\; \backslash left(R^\backslash right)^i\_j\; v^j,$
where the hat denotes the components in the new basis. This is called a ''contravariant'' transformation law, because the vector components transform by the ''inverse'' of the change of basis. In contrast, the components, ''w''Kronecker delta
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...

, which functions similarly to the identity matrix
In linear algebra, the identity matrix of size ''n'' is the ''n'' × ''n'' square matrix
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structu ...

, and has the effect of renaming indices (''j'' into ''k'' in this example). This shows several features of the component notation: the ability to re-arrange terms at will (commutativity
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...

), the need to use different indices when working with multiple objects in the same expression, the ability to rename indices, and the manner in which contravariant and covariant tensors combine so that all instances of the transformation matrix and its inverse cancel, so that expressions like $^i\; \backslash ,\backslash mathbf\_i$ can immediately be seen to be geometrically identical in all coordinate systems.
Similarly, a linear operator, viewed as a geometric object, does not actually depend on a basis: it is just a linear map that accepts a vector as an argument and produces another vector. The transformation law for how the matrix of components of a linear operator changes with the basis is consistent with the transformation law for a contravariant vector, so that the action of a linear operator on a contravariant vector is represented in coordinates as the matrix product of their respective coordinate representations. That is, the components $(Tv)^i$ are given by $(Tv)^i\; =\; T^i\_j\; v^j$. These components transform contravariantly, since
:$\backslash left(\backslash widehat\backslash right)^\; =\; \backslash hat^\_\; \backslash hat^\; =\; \backslash left;\; href="/html/ALL/s/\backslash left(R^\backslash right)^\_i\_T^i\_j\_R^j\_\_\backslash right.html"\; ;"title="\backslash left(R^\backslash right)^\_i\; T^i\_j\; R^j\_\; \backslash right">\backslash left(R^\backslash right)^\_i\; T^i\_j\; R^j\_\; \backslash right$
The transformation law for an order tensor with ''p'' contravariant indices and ''q'' covariant indices is thus given as,
:$\backslash hat^\_\; =\; \backslash left(R^\backslash right)^\_\; \backslash cdots\; \backslash left(R^\backslash right)^\_$ $T^\_$ $R^\_\backslash cdots\; R^\_.$
Here the primed indices denote components in the new coordinates, and the unprimed indices denote the components in the old coordinates. Such a tensor is said to be of order or ''type'' . The terms "order", "type", "rank", "valence", and "degree" are all sometimes used for the same concept. Here, the term "order" or "total order" will be used for the total dimension of the array (or its generalization in other definitions), in the preceding example, and the term "type" for the pair giving the number of contravariant and covariant indices. A tensor of type is also called a -tensor for short.
This discussion motivates the following formal definition:
The definition of a tensor as a multidimensional array satisfying a transformation law traces back to the work of Ricci.
An equivalent definition of a tensor uses the representations
''Representations'' is an interdisciplinary journal in the humanities published quarterly by the University of California Press. The journal was established in 1983 and is the founding publication of the New Historicism movement of the 1980s. It co ...

of the general linear group
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no ge ...

. There is an action
ACTION is a bus operator in , Australia owned by the .
History
On 19 July 1926, the commenced operating public bus services between Eastlake (now ) in the south and in the north.
The service was first known as Canberra City Omnibus Se ...

of the general linear group on the set of all ordered bases of an ''n''-dimensional vector space. If $\backslash mathbf\; f\; =\; (\backslash mathbf\; f\_1,\; \backslash dots,\; \backslash mathbf\; f\_n)$ is an ordered basis, and $R\; =\; \backslash left(R^i\_j\backslash right)$ is an invertible $n\backslash times\; n$ matrix, then the action is given by
:$\backslash mathbf\; fR\; =\; \backslash left(\backslash mathbf\; f\_i\; R^i\_1,\; \backslash dots,\; \backslash mathbf\; f\_i\; R^i\_n\backslash right).$
Let ''F'' be the set of all ordered bases. Then ''F'' is a principal homogeneous space:''For the term "torsor" in algebraic geometry, see torsor (algebraic geometry).''
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algeb ...

for GL(''n''). Let ''W'' be a vector space and let $\backslash rho$ be a representation of GL(''n'') on ''W'' (that is, a group homomorphism
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no ge ...

$\backslash rho:\; \backslash text(n)\; \backslash to\; \backslash text(W)$). Then a tensor of type $\backslash rho$ is an equivariant map
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It h ...

$T:\; F\; \backslash to\; W$. Equivariance here means that
:$T(FR)\; =\; \backslash rho\backslash left(R^\backslash right)T(F).$
When $\backslash rho$ is a tensor representation of the general linear group, this gives the usual definition of tensors as multidimensional arrays. This definition is often used to describe tensors on manifolds, and readily generalizes to other groups.
As multilinear maps

A downside to the definition of a tensor using the multidimensional array approach is that it is not apparent from the definition that the defined object is indeed basis independent, as is expected from an intrinsically geometric object. Although it is possible to show that transformation laws indeed ensure independence from the basis, sometimes a more intrinsic definition is preferred. One approach that is common indifferential geometry
Differential geometry is a Mathematics, mathematical discipline that studies the geometry of smooth shapes and smooth spaces, otherwise known as smooth manifolds, using the techniques of differential calculus, integral calculus, linear algebra a ...

is to define tensors relative to a fixed (finite-dimensional) vector space ''V'', which is usually taken to be a particular vector space of some geometrical significance like the tangent space
In , the tangent space of a generalizes to higher dimensions the notion of tangent planes to surfaces in three dimensions and tangent lines to curves in two dimensions. In the context of physics the tangent space to a manifold at a point can ...

to a manifold. In this approach, a type tensor ''T'' is defined as a multilinear map
In linear algebra, a multilinear map is a function of several variables that is linear separately in each variable. More precisely, a multilinear map is a function
:f\colon V_1 \times \cdots \times V_n \to W\text
where V_1,\ldots,V_n and W ar ...

,
:$T:\; \backslash underbrace\_\; \backslash times\; \backslash underbrace\_\; \backslash rightarrow\; \backslash mathbf,$
where ''V''dual space
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no gen ...

of covectors, which is linear in each of its arguments. The above assumes ''V'' is a vector space over the real number
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no g ...

s, ℝ. More generally, ''V'' can be taken over any field
Field may refer to:
Expanses of open ground
* Field (agriculture), an area of land used for agricultural purposes
* Airfield, an aerodrome that lacks the infrastructure of an airport
* Battlefield
* Lawn, an area of mowed grass
* Meadow, a grassl ...

''F'' (e.g. the complex number
In mathematics, a complex number is an element of a number system that contains the real numbers and a specific element denoted , called the imaginary unit, and satisfying the equation . Moreover, every complex number can be expressed in the for ...

s), with ''F'' replacing ℝ as the codomain of the multilinear maps.
By applying a multilinear map ''T'' of type to a basis for ''V'' and a canonical cobasis for ''V''Using tensor products

For some mathematical applications, a more abstract approach is sometimes useful. This can be achieved by defining tensors in terms of elements oftensor product
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...

s of vector spaces, which in turn are defined through a universal property
In category theory
Category theory formalizes mathematical structure
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), ...

. A type tensor is defined in this context as an element of the tensor product of vector spaces,
:$T\; \backslash in\; \backslash underbrace\_\; \backslash otimes\; \backslash underbrace\_.$
A basis of and basis of naturally induce a basis of the tensor product . The components of a tensor are the coefficients of the tensor with respect to the basis obtained from a basis for and its dual basis , i.e.
:$T\; =\; T^\_\backslash ;\; \backslash mathbf\_\backslash otimes\backslash cdots\backslash otimes\; \backslash mathbf\_\backslash otimes\; \backslash boldsymbol^\backslash otimes\backslash cdots\backslash otimes\; \backslash boldsymbol^.$
Using the properties of the tensor product, it can be shown that these components satisfy the transformation law for a type tensor. Moreover, the universal property of the tensor product gives a between tensors defined in this way and tensors defined as multilinear maps.
This 1 to 1 correspondence can be archived the following way, because in the finite dimensional case there exists a canonical isomorphism between a vectorspace and its double dual:
:$U\; \backslash otimes\; V\; \backslash cong\backslash left(U^\backslash right)\; \backslash otimes\backslash left(V^\backslash right)\; \backslash cong\backslash left(U^\; \backslash otimes\; V^\backslash right)^\; \backslash cong\; \backslash operatorname^\backslash left(U^\; \backslash times\; V^\; ;\; \backslash mathbb\backslash right)$
The last line is using the universal property of the tensor product, that there is a 1 to 1 correspondence between maps from $\backslash operatorname^\backslash left(U^\; \backslash times\; V^\; ;\; \backslash mathbb\backslash right)$ and $\backslash operatorname\backslash left(U^\; \backslash otimes\; V^\; ;\; \backslash mathbb\backslash right)$.
Tensor products can be defined in great generality – for example, over a ring. In principle, one could define a "tensor" simply to be an element of any tensor product. However, the mathematics literature usually reserves the term ''tensor'' for an element of a tensor product of any number of copies of a single vector space and its dual, as above.
Tensors in infinite dimensions

This discussion of tensors so far assumes finite dimensionality of the spaces involved, where the spaces of tensors obtained by each of these constructions arenaturally isomorphic
In category theory, a branch of mathematics, a natural transformation provides a way of transforming one functor into another while respecting the internal structure (i.e., the composition of morphisms) of the Category (mathematics), categories invo ...

.The double duality isomorphism, for instance, is used to identify ''V'' with the double dual space ''V''vector bundle
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas and related structures (), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (), and quantities and their changes ( and ). There is no gen ...

s or coherent sheaves In mathematics, especially in algebraic geometry and the theory of complex manifolds, coherent sheaves are a class of Sheaf (mathematics), sheaves closely linked to the geometric properties of the underlying space. The definition of coherent sheaves ...

. For infinite-dimensional vector spaces, inequivalent topologies lead to inequivalent notions of tensor, and these various isomorphisms may or may not hold depending on what exactly is meant by a tensor (see topological tensor productIn mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ha ...

). In some applications, it is the tensor product of Hilbert spacesIn mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ha ...

that is intended, whose properties are the most similar to the finite-dimensional case. A more modern view is that it is the tensors' structure as a symmetric monoidal categoryIn category theory
Category theory formalizes mathematical structure and its concepts in terms of a Graph labeling, labeled directed graph called a ''Category (mathematics), category'', whose nodes are called ''objects'', and whose labelled dire ...

that encodes their most important properties, rather than the specific models of those categories.
Tensor fields

In many applications, especially in differential geometry and physics, it is natural to consider a tensor with components that are functions of the point in a space. This was the setting of Ricci's original work. In modern mathematical terminology such an object is called atensor field
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and t ...

, often referred to simply as a tensor.
In this context, a coordinate basisIn mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ha ...

is often chosen for the tangent vector space. The transformation law may then be expressed in terms of partial derivative
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...

s of the coordinate functions,
:$\backslash bar^i\backslash left(x^1,\; \backslash ldots,\; x^n\backslash right),$
defining a coordinate transformation,
:$\backslash hat^\_\backslash left(\backslash bar^1,\; \backslash ldots,\; \backslash bar^n\backslash right)\; =\; \backslash frac\; \backslash cdots\; \backslash frac\; \backslash frac\; \backslash cdots\; \backslash frac\; T^\_\backslash left(x^1,\; \backslash ldots,\; x^n\backslash right).$
Examples

An elementary example of a mapping describable as a tensor is thedot product
In mathematics, the dot product or scalar productThe term ''scalar product'' is often also used more generally to mean a symmetric bilinear form, for example for a pseudo-Euclidean space. is an algebraic operation that takes two equal-length seque ...

, which maps two vectors to a scalar. A more complex example is the Cauchy stress tensor
In continuum mechanics
Continuum mechanics is a branch of mechanics that deals with the mechanical behavior of materials modeled as a continuous mass rather than as point particle, discrete particles. The French mathematician Augustin-Louis C ...

T, which takes a directional unit vector v as input and maps it to the stress vector Tcross product
In , the cross product or vector product (occasionally directed area product, to emphasize its geometric significance) is a on two s in a three-dimensional (named here E), and is denoted by the symbol \times. Given two and , the cross produc ...

, where two vectors are mapped to a third one, is strictly speaking not a tensor because it changes its sign under those transformations that change the orientation of the coordinate system. The totally anti-symmetric symbol $\backslash varepsilon\_$ nevertheless allows a convenient handling of the cross product in equally oriented three dimensional coordinate systems.
This table shows important examples of tensors on vector spaces and tensor fields on manifolds. The tensors are classified according to their type , where ''n'' is the number of contravariant indices, ''m'' is the number of covariant indices, and gives the total order of the tensor. For example, a bilinear form
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It h ...

is the same thing as a -tensor; an inner product
In mathematics, an inner product space or a Hausdorff space, Hausdorff pre-Hilbert space is a vector space with a binary operation called an inner product. This operation associates each pair of vectors in the space with a Scalar (mathematics), ...

is an example of a -tensor, but not all -tensors are inner products. In the -entry of the table, ''M'' denotes the dimensionality of the underlying vector space or manifold because for each dimension of the space, a separate index is needed to select that dimension to get a maximally covariant antisymmetric tensor.
Raising an index on an -tensor produces an -tensor; this corresponds to moving diagonally down and to the left on the table. Symmetrically, lowering an index corresponds to moving diagonally up and to the right on the table. Contraction of an upper with a lower index of an -tensor produces an -tensor; this corresponds to moving diagonally up and to the left on the table.
Properties

Assuming amultidimensional array
In computer science, an array type is a data type that represents a collection of ''elements'' (value (computer science), values or variable (computer science), variables), each selected by one or more indices (identifying keys) that can be comput ...

of numerical values with respect to this specific basis. Changing the basis transforms the values in the array in a characteristic way that allows to ''define'' tensors as objects adhering to this transformational behavior. For example, there are invariants of tensors that must be preserved under any change of the basis, thereby making only certain multidimensional arrays of numbers a tensor. Compare this to the array representing $\backslash varepsilon\_$ not being a tensor, for the sign change under transformations changing the orientation.
Because the components of vectors and their duals transform differently under the change of their dual bases, there is a covariant and/or contravariant transformation law that relates the arrays, which represent the tensor with respect to one basis and that with respect to the other one. The numbers of, respectively, ( contravariant indices) and dual ( covariant indices) in the input and output of a tensor determine the ''type'' (or ''valence'') of the tensor, a pair of natural numbers , which determine the precise form of the transformation law. The ' of a tensor is the sum of these two numbers.
The order (also ''degree'' or ') of a tensor is thus the sum of the orders of its arguments plus the order of the resulting tensor. This is also the dimensionality of the array of numbers needed to represent the tensor with respect to a specific basis, or equivalently, the number of indices needed to label each component in that array. For example, in a fixed basis, a standard linear map that maps a vector to a vector, is represented by a matrix (a 2-dimensional array), and therefore is a 2nd-order tensor. A simple vector can be represented as a 1-dimensional array, and is therefore a 1st-order tensor. Scalars are simple numbers and are thus 0th-order tensors. This way the tensor representing the scalar product, taking two vectors and resulting in a scalar has order , the same as the stress tensor, taking one vector and returning another . The mapping two vectors to one vector, would have order
The collection of tensors on a vector space and its dual forms a tensor algebra
In mathematics, the tensor algebra of a vector space ''V'', denoted ''T''(''V'') or ''T''(''V''), is the algebra over a field, algebra of tensors on ''V'' (of any rank) with multiplication being the tensor product. It is the free algebra on ''V'', i ...

, which allows products of arbitrary tensors. Simple applications of tensors of order , which can be represented as a square matrix, can be solved by clever arrangement of transposed vectors and by applying the rules of matrix multiplication, but the tensor product should not be confused with this.
Notation

There are several notational systems that are used to describe tensors and perform calculations involving them.Ricci calculus

Ricci calculus
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and t ...

is the modern formalism and notation for tensor indices: indicating inner and outer product
In linear algebra
Linear algebra is the branch of mathematics concerning linear equations such as:
:a_1x_1+\cdots +a_nx_n=b,
linear maps such as:
:(x_1, \ldots, x_n) \mapsto a_1x_1+\cdots +a_nx_n,
and their representations in vector spaces and t ...

s, covariance and contravariance, summation
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...

s of tensor components, symmetry
Symmetry (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek
Greek may refer to:
Greece
Anything of, from, or related to Greece
Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

and antisymmetry
In linguistics, antisymmetry is a theory of syntax, syntactic linearization presented in Richard Kayne's 1994 monograph ''The Antisymmetry of Syntax''. The crux of this theory is that hierarchical structure in natural language maps universally onto ...

, and partial
Partial may refer to:
Mathematics
*Partial derivative
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and ...

and covariant derivative
In mathematics, the covariant derivative is a way of specifying a derivative along tangent vectors of a manifold. Alternatively, the covariant derivative is a way of introducing and working with a connection (mathematics), connection on a manifold ...

s.
Einstein summation convention

TheEinstein summation convention
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...

dispenses with writing summation sign
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). I ...

s, leaving the summation implicit. Any repeated index symbol is summed over: if the index is used twice in a given term of a tensor expression, it means that the term is to be summed for all . Several distinct pairs of indices may be summed this way.
Penrose graphical notation

Penrose graphical notation is a diagrammatic notation which replaces the symbols for tensors with shapes, and their indices by lines and curves. It is independent of basis elements, and requires no symbols for the indices.Abstract index notation

Theabstract index notation
Abstract index notation is a mathematical notation for tensor
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (ge ...

is a way to write tensors such that the indices are no longer thought of as numerical, but rather are indeterminates. This notation captures the expressiveness of indices and the basis-independence of index-free notation.
Component-free notation

A component-free treatment of tensors uses notation that emphasises that tensors do not rely on any basis, and is defined in terms of the tensor product of vector spaces.Operations

There are several operations on tensors that again produce a tensor. The linear nature of tensor implies that two tensors of the same type may be added together, and that tensors may be multiplied by a scalar with results analogous to the . On components, these operations are simply performed component-wise. These operations do not change the type of the tensor; but there are also operations that produce a tensor of different type.Tensor product

Thetensor product
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...

takes two tensors, ''S'' and ''T'', and produces a new tensor, , whose order is the sum of the orders of the original tensors. When described as multilinear maps, the tensor product simply multiplies the two tensors, i.e.
:$(S\; \backslash otimes\; T)(v\_1,\; \backslash ldots,\; v\_n,\; v\_,\; \backslash ldots,\; v\_)\; =\; S(v\_1,\; \backslash ldots,\; v\_n)T(v\_,\; \backslash ldots,\; v\_),$
which again produces a map that is linear in all its arguments. On components, the effect is to multiply the components of the two input tensors pairwise, i.e.
:$(S\; \backslash otimes\; T)^\_\; =\; S^\_\; T^\_,$
If is of type and is of type , then the tensor product has type .
Contraction

Tensor contraction
In multilinear algebra
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematica ...

is an operation that reduces a type tensor to a type tensor, of which the trace
Trace may refer to:
Arts and entertainment Music
* ''Trace'' (Son Volt album), 1995
* ''Trace'' (Died Pretty album), 1993
* Trace (band)
Trace was a Netherlands, Dutch progressive rock trio founded by Rick van der Linden in 1974 after leavin ...

is a special case. It thereby reduces the total order of a tensor by two. The operation is achieved by summing components for which one specified contravariant index is the same as one specified covariant index to produce a new component. Components for which those two indices are different are discarded. For example, a -tensor $T\_i^j$ can be contracted to a scalar through $T\_i^i$. Where the summation is again implied. When the -tensor is interpreted as a linear map, this operation is known as the trace
Trace may refer to:
Arts and entertainment Music
* ''Trace'' (Son Volt album), 1995
* ''Trace'' (Died Pretty album), 1993
* Trace (band)
Trace was a Netherlands, Dutch progressive rock trio founded by Rick van der Linden in 1974 after leavin ...

.
The contraction is often used in conjunction with the tensor product to contract an index from each tensor.
The contraction can also be understood using the definition of a tensor as an element of a tensor product of copies of the space ''V'' with the space ''V''inner product
In mathematics, an inner product space or a Hausdorff space, Hausdorff pre-Hilbert space is a vector space with a binary operation called an inner product. This operation associates each pair of vectors in the space with a Scalar (mathematics), ...

(also known as a metric
METRIC (Mapping EvapoTranspiration at high Resolution with Internalized Calibration) is a computer model
Computer simulation is the process of mathematical modelling, performed on a computer, which is designed to predict the behaviour of or th ...

) ''g'', the term contraction is used for removing two contravariant or two covariant indices by forming a trace with the metric tensor or its inverse. For example, a -tensor $T^$ can be contracted to a scalar through $T^\; g\_$ (yet again assuming the summation convention).
Raising or lowering an index

When a vector space is equipped with a nondegenerate bilinear form (or ''metric tensor'' as it is often called in this context), operations can be defined that convert a contravariant (upper) index into a covariant (lower) index and vice versa. A metric tensor is a (symmetric) (-tensor; it is thus possible to contract an upper index of a tensor with one of the lower indices of the metric tensor in the product. This produces a new tensor with the same index structure as the previous tensor, but with lower index generally shown in the same position of the contracted upper index. This operation is quite graphically known as ''lowering an index''. Conversely, the inverse operation can be defined, and is called ''raising an index''. This is equivalent to a similar contraction on the product with a -tensor. This ''inverse metric tensor'' has components that are the matrix inverse of those of the metric tensor.Applications

Continuum mechanics

Important examples are provided by continuum mechanics. The stresses inside a solid body or fluid are described by a tensor field. The Stress (mechanics), stress tensor and strain tensor are both second-order tensor fields, and are related in a general linear elastic material by a fourth-order elasticity tensor field. In detail, the tensor quantifying stress in a 3-dimensional solid object has components that can be conveniently represented as a 3 × 3 array. The three faces of a cube-shaped infinitesimal volume segment of the solid are each subject to some given force. The force's vector components are also three in number. Thus, 3 × 3, or 9 components are required to describe the stress at this cube-shaped infinitesimal segment. Within the bounds of this solid is a whole mass of varying stress quantities, each requiring 9 quantities to describe. Thus, a second-order tensor is needed. If a particular Volume form, surface element inside the material is singled out, the material on one side of the surface will apply a force on the other side. In general, this force will not be orthogonal to the surface, but it will depend on the orientation of the surface in a linear manner. This is described by a tensor of type of a tensor, type , in linear elasticity, or more precisely by a tensor field of type , since the stresses may vary from point to point.Other examples from physics

Common applications include: * Electromagnetic tensor (or Faraday tensor) in electromagnetism * Finite deformation tensors for describing deformations and strain tensor for Strain (materials science), strain in continuum mechanics * Permittivity and electric susceptibility are tensors in anisotropic media * Four-tensors ingeneral relativity
General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the geometric
Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; '' geo-'' "earth", '' -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathema ...

(e.g. stress–energy tensor
The stress–energy tensor, sometimes called the stress–energy–momentum tensor or the energy–momentum tensor, is a tensor physical quantity that describes the density and flux of energy and momentum in spacetime, generalizing the Cauchy str ...

), used to represent momentum fluxes
* Spherical tensor operators are the eigenfunctions of the quantum angular momentum operator in spherical coordinates
* Diffusion tensors, the basis of diffusion tensor imaging, represent rates of diffusion in biological environments
* Quantum mechanics and quantum computing utilize tensor products for combination of quantum states
Applications of tensors of order > 2

The concept of a tensor of order two is often conflated with that of a matrix. Tensors of higher order do however capture ideas important in science and engineering, as has been shown successively in numerous areas as they develop. This happens, for instance, in the field of computer vision, with the trifocal tensor generalizing the fundamental matrix (computer vision), fundamental matrix. The field of nonlinear optics studies the changes to material Polarization density#Relation between P and E in various materials, polarization density under extreme electric fields. The polarization waves generated are related to the generating electric fields through the nonlinear susceptibility tensor. If the polarization P is not linearly proportional to the electric field E, the medium is termed ''nonlinear''. To a good approximation (for sufficiently weak fields, assuming no permanent dipole moments are present), P is given by a Taylor series in E whose coefficients are the nonlinear susceptibilities: :$\backslash frac\; =\; \backslash sum\_j\; \backslash chi^\_\; E\_j\; +\; \backslash sum\_\; \backslash chi\_^\; E\_j\; E\_k\; +\; \backslash sum\_\; \backslash chi\_^\; E\_j\; E\_k\; E\_\backslash ell\; +\; \backslash cdots.\; \backslash !$ Here $\backslash chi^$ is the linear susceptibility, $\backslash chi^$ gives the Pockels effect and second harmonic generation, and $\backslash chi^$ gives the Kerr effect. This expansion shows the way higher-order tensors arise naturally in the subject matter.Generalizations

Tensor products of vector spaces

The vector spaces of atensor product
In mathematics
Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities and ...

need not be the same, and sometimes the elements of such a more general tensor product are called "tensors". For example, an element of the tensor product space is a second-order "tensor" in this more general sense, and an order- tensor may likewise be defined as an element of a tensor product of different vector spaces. A type tensor, in the sense defined previously, is also a tensor of order in this more general sense. The concept of tensor product tensor product of modules, can be extended to arbitrary module over a ring, modules over a ring.
Tensors in infinite dimensions

The notion of a tensor can be generalized in a variety of ways to Dimension (vector space), infinite dimensions. One, for instance, is via the tensor product of Hilbert spaces, tensor product of Hilbert spaces. Another way of generalizing the idea of tensor, common in Nonlinear system, nonlinear analysis, is via the #As multilinear maps, multilinear maps definition where instead of using finite-dimensional vector spaces and their algebraic duals, one uses infinite-dimensional Banach spaces and their continuous dual. Tensors thus live naturally on Banach manifolds and Fréchet manifolds.Tensor densities

Suppose that a homogeneous medium fills , so that the density of the medium is described by a single scalar (physics), scalar value in . The mass, in kg, of a region is obtained by multiplying by the volume of the region , or equivalently integrating the constant over the region: :$m\; =\; \backslash int\_\backslash Omega\; \backslash rho\backslash ,\; dx\backslash ,dy\backslash ,dz$ where the Cartesian coordinates are measured in m. If the units of length are changed into cm, then the numerical values of the coordinate functions must be rescaled by a factor of 100: :$x\text{'}\; =\; 100\; x,\backslash quad\; y\text{'}\; =\; 100y,\backslash quad\; z\text{'}\; =\; 100z$ The numerical value of the density must then also transform by $100^\; \backslash mathrm$ to compensate, so that the numerical value of the mass in kg is still given by integral of $\backslash rho\backslash ,\; dx\backslash ,dy\backslash ,dz$. Thus $\backslash rho\text{'}\; =\; 100^\backslash rho$ (in units of ). More generally, if the Cartesian coordinates undergo a linear transformation, then the numerical value of the density must change by a factor of the reciprocal of the absolute value of the determinant of the coordinate transformation, so that the integral remains invariant, by the change of variables formula for integration. Such a quantity that scales by the reciprocal of the absolute value of the determinant of the coordinate transition map is called a scalar density. To model a non-constant density, is a function of the variables (a scalar field), and under a curvilinear coordinates, curvilinear change of coordinates, it transforms by the reciprocal of the Jacobian matrix and determinant, Jacobian of the coordinate change. For more on the intrinsic meaning, see Density on a manifold. A tensor density transforms like a tensor under a coordinate change, except that it in addition picks up a factor of the absolute value of the determinant of the coordinate transition: :$T^\_[\backslash mathbf\; \backslash cdot\; R]\; =\; ,\; \backslash det\; R,\; ^\backslash left(R^\backslash right)^\_\; \backslash cdots\; \backslash left(R^\backslash right)^\_$ $T^\_[\backslash mathbf]$ $R^\_\backslash cdots\; R^\_\; .$ Here ''w'' is called the weight. In general, any tensor multiplied by a power of this function or its absolute value is called a tensor density, or a weighted tensor. An example of a tensor density is the current density of electromagnetism. Under an affine transformation of the coordinates, a tensor transforms by the linear part of the transformation itself (or its inverse) on each index. These come from the rational representations of the general linear group. But this is not quite the most general linear transformation law that such an object may have: tensor densities are non-rational, but are still semisimple representations. A further class of transformations come from the logarithmic representation of the general linear group, a reducible but not semisimple representation, consisting of an with the transformation law :$(x,\; y)\; \backslash mapsto\; (x\; +\; y\backslash log\; \backslash left,\; \backslash det\; R\backslash ,\; y).$Geometric objects

The transformation law for a tensor behaves as a functor on the category of admissible coordinate systems, under general linear transformations (or, other transformations within some class, such as local diffeomorphisms.) This makes a tensor a special case of a geometrical object, in the technical sense that it is a function of the coordinate system transforming functorially under coordinate changes. Examples of objects obeying more general kinds of transformation laws are jet (mathematics), jets and, more generally still, natural bundles.Spinors

When changing from one orthonormal basis (called a ''frame'') to another by a rotation, the components of a tensor transform by that same rotation. This transformation does not depend on the path taken through the space of frames. However, the space of frames is not simply connected (see orientation entanglement and plate trick): there are continuous paths in the space of frames with the same beginning and ending configurations that are not deformable one into the other. It is possible to attach an additional discrete invariant to each frame that incorporates this path dependence, and which turns out (locally) to have values of ±1. A spinor is an object that transforms like a tensor under rotations in the frame, apart from a possible sign that is determined by the value of this discrete invariant. Succinctly, spinors are elements of the spin representation of the rotation group, while tensors are elements of its tensor representations. Other classical groups have tensor representations, and so also tensors that are compatible with the group, but all non-compact classical groups have infinite-dimensional unitary representations as well.History

The concepts of later tensor analysis arose from the work of Carl Friedrich Gauss indifferential geometry
Differential geometry is a Mathematics, mathematical discipline that studies the geometry of smooth shapes and smooth spaces, otherwise known as smooth manifolds, using the techniques of differential calculus, integral calculus, linear algebra a ...

, and the formulation was much influenced by the theory of algebraic forms and invariants developed during the middle of the nineteenth century. The word "tensor" itself was introduced in 1846 by William Rowan Hamilton to describe something different from what is now meant by a tensor.Namely, the norm (mathematics), norm operation in a vector space. The contemporary usage was introduced by Woldemar Voigt in 1898.
Tensor calculus was developed around 1890 by Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro
Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro (; 12January 1925) was an Italian mathematician
A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics
Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity ( ...

under the title ''absolute differential calculus'', and originally presented by Ricci-Curbastro in 1892. It was made accessible to many mathematicians by the publication of Ricci-Curbastro and Tullio Levi-Civita
Tullio Levi-Civita, (, ; 29 March 1873 – 29 December 1941) was an Italians, Italian mathematician, most famous for his work on absolute differential calculus (tensor calculus) and its applications to the theory of relativity, but who also made s ...

's 1900 classic text ''Méthodes de calcul différentiel absolu et leurs applications'' (Methods of absolute differential calculus and their applications).
In the 20th century, the subject came to be known as ''tensor analysis'', and achieved broader acceptance with the introduction of Albert Einstein, Einstein's theory of general relativity
General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the geometric
Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; '' geo-'' "earth", '' -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathema ...

, around 1915. General relativity is formulated completely in the language of tensors. Einstein had learned about them, with great difficulty, from the geometer Marcel Grossmann. Levi-Civita then initiated a correspondence with Einstein to correct mistakes Einstein had made in his use of tensor analysis. The correspondence lasted 1915–17, and was characterized by mutual respect:
Tensors were also found to be useful in other fields such as continuum mechanics. Some well-known examples of tensors in Riemann curvature tensor
In the mathematical field of differential geometry
Differential geometry is a Mathematics, mathematical discipline that uses the techniques of differential calculus, integral calculus, linear algebra and multilinear algebra to study problems i ...

. The exterior algebra of Hermann Grassmann, from the middle of the nineteenth century, is itself a tensor theory, and highly geometric, but it was some time before it was seen, with the theory of differential forms, as naturally unified with tensor calculus. The work of Élie Cartan made differential forms one of the basic kinds of tensors used in mathematics.
From about the 1920s onwards, it was realised that tensors play a basic role in algebraic topology (for example in the Künneth theorem). Correspondingly there are types of tensors at work in many branches of abstract algebra, particularly in homological algebra and representation theory. Multilinear algebra can be developed in greater generality than for scalars coming from a field (mathematics), field. For example, scalars can come from a ring (mathematics), ring. But the theory is then less geometric and computations more technical and less algorithmic. Tensors are generalized within category theory by means of the concept of monoidal category, from the 1960s.
See also

* Array data type, for tensor storage and manipulationFoundational

* Cartesian tensor * Fibre bundle * Glossary of tensor theory * Multilinear subspace learning#Multilinear projection, Multilinear projection * One-form * Tensor product of modulesApplications

* Application of tensor theory in engineering * Continuum mechanics * Covariant derivative * Curvature * Diffusion MRI#Mathematical foundation—tensors, Diffusion tensor MRI * Einstein field equations * Fluid mechanics * Gravity * Multilinear subspace learning * Riemannian geometry * Structure tensor * Tensor decomposition * Tensor derivative * Tensor softwareExplanatory notes

References

Specific

General

* * * * * * * * Chapter six gives a "from scratch" introduction to covariant tensors. * * * * *External links

* * *An Introduction to Tensors for Students of Physics and Engineering

by Joseph C. Kolecki, Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, released by NASA

Foundations of Tensor Analysis for Students of Physics and Engineering With an Introduction to the Theory of Relativity

by Joseph C. Kolecki, Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio, released by NASA

A discussion of the various approaches to teaching tensors, and recommendations of textbooks

*

{{Authority control Concepts in physics Tensors,