*S. G. Rajeev*

- Published in print:
- 2018
- Published Online:
- October 2018
- ISBN:
- 9780198805021
- eISBN:
- 9780191843136
- Item type:
- chapter

- Publisher:
- Oxford University Press
- DOI:
- 10.1093/oso/9780198805021.003.0001
- Subject:
- Physics, Soft Matter / Biological Physics, Condensed Matter Physics / Materials

The velocity of a fluid at each point of space-time is a vector field (or flow). It is best to think of it in terms of the effect of fluid flow on some scalar field. A vector field is thus a first ...
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The velocity of a fluid at each point of space-time is a vector field (or flow). It is best to think of it in terms of the effect of fluid flow on some scalar field. A vector field is thus a first order partial differential operator, called the material derivative in fluid mechanics. The path of a speck of dust carried along (advected) by the fluid is the integral curve of the velocity field. Even simple vector fields can have quite complicated integral curves: a manifestation of chaos. Of special interest are incompressible (with zero divergence) and irrotational (with zero curl) flows. A fixed point of a vector field is a point at which it vanishes. The derivative of a vector field at a fixed point is a matrix (the Jacobi matrix) whose spectrum is independent of the choice of coordinates.Less

The velocity of a fluid at each point of space-time is a vector field (or flow). It is best to think of it in terms of the effect of fluid flow on some scalar field. A vector field is thus a first order partial differential operator, called the material derivative in fluid mechanics. The path of a speck of dust carried along (advected) by the fluid is the integral curve of the velocity field. Even simple vector fields can have quite complicated integral curves: a manifestation of chaos. Of special interest are incompressible (with zero divergence) and irrotational (with zero curl) flows. A fixed point of a vector field is a point at which it vanishes. The derivative of a vector field at a fixed point is a matrix (the Jacobi matrix) whose spectrum is independent of the choice of coordinates.