Vector Fields

  • Thread starter Gza
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I was just wondering; how is a vector valued function different from a vector field? Mathematically, they seem the same so should I think of them that way?

matt grime

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A vector field is a function from R^n to R^n, a vector valued function has no such requirements on dimension


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It should be noted, that in physical applications, the concept "field" has different connotations than the mathematical concept "field", that matt grime wrote about.

This is because in physics, a "field" description is distinguished from a "particle" description.

Hence, for example, you will find in physics references to the "velocity field", even though mathamatically, this is a vector function [tex]f:\Re^{4}\to\Re^{3}[/tex]


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the upshot seems to be you should not worry about it, there is indeed no big difference.

In my experience what matt grimes says is common, i.e. a vector field is often a vector valued function whose values are taken in the tangent space to the domain, hence it is drawn as a family of tangent vectors to points of the domain.

On the other side, a vector valued function may have any kind of vectors as values. But as Arildno points out the more general concept is also called vector field by some physicists.

so you have to read the context carefully in given case.

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