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Symbolic computation of gradient

  1. Jan 28, 2007 #1
    I'm wondering if there are any convenient symbolic "shortcuts" (i.e. abuse of notation) that enable one to compute the gradient with respect to a certain vector, without decomposing the computation into the vector's individual elements and differentiating with respect to each element. For example:
    \nabla_x \left( \frac{1}{|{\bf x}^{'} - {\bf x}|} \right) = \frac{{\bf x}^{'} - {\bf x}}{|{\bf x}^{'} - {\bf x}|^3}
    Besides the obvious method of evaluating [tex]\frac{\partial}{\partial x_1}[/tex] and so on, is there a faster method of symbolic computation?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2007 #2
    If you consider
    [tex] \sqrt{x^Tx}=|x|[/tex]
    then symbolic ideas help to get to the final expression:

    [tex] \nabla_x \left( (x'-x)^{T}(x'-x) \right)^{-1/2} = \left( (x'-x)^{T}(x'-x) \right)^{-3/2} (x'-x) [/tex]
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2007
  4. Jan 30, 2007 #3
    Yes, that works very well. Thanks a lot.
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