San José State University
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The e-System Notation of Tensor Analysis

E-systems can be vastly generalized beyond the case used here but let us start with indices i,j and k ranging from 1 to 3. First the notion of a permuation of the indices must be considered and the even-ness or odd-ness defined. A permutation of 123 is any rearrangement of the numbers such as 213 or 321. An odd permutation is one that can be achieved with an odd number of transpositions. For example, 213 can be achieved from 123 by transposing the 1 and 2. If the 1 and 3 in 213 are transposed then the result is 231 and thus 231 is an even permutation of 123.

Now the 3x3x3 array eijk can be defined as

eijk = 0 if i=j, j=k or i=k
eijk = +1 if ijk is an even permuatation of 123
eijk = −1 if ijk is an odd permuatation of 123

A primary use of e-systems is for operations concerning determinants.

In conventional notation the determinant of matrix A whose elements are { aij} is expressed as

|A| = ΣjaijCof(aij)

where Cof(aij), the cofactor of aij, is obtained by evaluating the determinant of the submatrix formed by deleting the i-th row and j-th column of the matrix A and multiplying by (−1)i+j. For a 3x3 matrix A the cofactor of a11 is (−1)2[a22a33−a12a21. For higher order matrices the formula for the cofactor of an element is impossibly complex.

The determinant in term of e-systems is a marvel of simplicity. It is

|A| = Σi,j,k,p,q,r eijkapiaqjark
where in tensor analysis, because of the repeated indices,
the Summation sign Σ is understood and not displayed
|A| = eijkapiaqjark

Thus mathematical manipulations, such as taking the derivative of a determinant, are easy to express.

The generalization of e-systems to the case in which the indices range from 1 to n is obvious.

(To be continued.)

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