How do you explain a gradient vector field in calculus?


Quick Answer

Lamar University explains that a gradient vector field is a directional derivative that represents the change in the gradient of a function. Gradient fields are known as conservative fields since they depend only on the beginning point and the end point of the vector while ignoring the path taken by the vector. Another term for gradient vector fields is path-independent vectors.

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Full Answer

A gradient vector is the gradient of a function, which represents the directional change in a scalar function. It is crucial to determine if a vector field is conservative, as this makes it easier to find out whether the field is a gradient vector field. The easiest way to determine whether a vector field is conservative is by finding its potential function, which demonstrates that a vector field is conservative. Another method used to determine if a vector field is conservative is by demonstrating that all the infinite closed curves in a vector filed have no circulation, which means the result of their integration is zero. Another way of proving a vector field is conservative is by finding the curl of the vector; if the curl is a non-zero value, this means the vector field is path-dependent and non-conservative.

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