## What’s in the pipe.

It’s been a while since I did any math or physics writing. This is the first post in a series where I plan to work my way systematically from an introduction of vectors, to the axioms of geometric algebra.  I plan to start with an introduction of vectors as directed “arrows”, building on that to discuss coordinates, tuples, and column matrix representations, and representation independent ideas. With those basics established, I’ll remind the reader about how generalized vector and dot product spaces are defined and give some examples. Finally, with the foundation of vectors and vector spaces in place, I’ll introduce the concept of a multivector space, and the geometric product, and start unpacking the implications of the axioms that follow naturally from this train of thought.

The applications that I plan to include in this series will be restricted to Euclidean spaces (i.e. where length is given by the Pythagorean law), primarily those of 2 and 3 dimensions.  However, it will be good to also lay the foundations for the non-Euclidean spaces that we encounter in relativistic electromagnetism (there is actually no other kind), and in computer graphics applications of geometric algebra, especially since we can do so nearly for free.  I plan to try to introduce the requisite ideas (i.e. the metric, which allows for a generalized dot product) by discussing Euclidean non-orthonormal bases.  Such bases have applications in condensed matter physics where there are useful for modelling crystal and lattice structure, and provide a hands conceptual bridge to a set of ideas that might otherwise seem abstract and without “real world” application.

## Motivation.

Many introductions to geometric algebra start by first introducing the dot product, then bivectors and the wedge product, and eventually define the product of two vectors as the synthetic sum of the dot and wedge
\label{eqn:multivector:20}
\Bx \By = \Bx \cdot \By + \Bx \wedge \By.

It takes a fair amount of work to do this well. In the seminal work [4] a few pages are taken for each of the dot and wedge products, showing the similarities and building up ideas, before introducing the geometric product in this fashion. In [2] the authors take a phenomenal five chapters to build up the context required to introduce the geometric product.  I am not disparaging the authors for taking that long to build up the ideas, as their introduction of the subject is exceedingly clear and thorough, and they do a lot more than the minumum required to define the geometric product.

The strategy to introduce the geometric product as a sum of dot and wedge can result in considerable confusion, especially since the wedge product is often defined in terms of the geometric product
\label{eqn:multivector:40}
\Bx \wedge \By =
\inv{2} \lr{
\Bx \By – \By \Bx
}.

The whole subject can appear like a chicken and egg problem. I personally found the subject very confusing initially, and had considerable difficulty understanding which of the many identities of geometric algebra were the most fundamental. For this reason, I found the axiomatic approach of [1] very refreshing. The cavaet with that work is that is is exceptionally terse, as they jammed a reformulation of most of physics using geometric algebra into that single book, and it would have been thousands of pages had they tried to make it readable by mere mortals.

When I wrote my own book on geometric algebra, I had the intuition that the way to introduce the subject ought to be like the vector space in abstract linear algebra. The construct of a vector space is a curious and indirect way to define a vector. Vectors are not defined as entities, but simply as members of a vector space, a space that is required to have a set of properties. I thought that the same approach would probably work with multivectors, which could be defined as members of a multivector space, a mathematical construction with a set of properties.

I did try this approach, but was not fully satisfied with what I wrote. I think that dissatisfaction was because I tried to define the multivector first. To define the multivector, I first introduced a whole set of prerequisite ideas (bivector, trivector, blade, k-vector, vector product, …), but that was also problematic, since the vector multiplication idea required for those concepts wasn’t fully defined until the multivector space itself was defined.

My approach shows some mathematical cowardness. Had I taken the approach of the vector space fully to heart, the multivector could have been defined as a member of a multivector space, and all the other ideas follow from that. In this multi-part series, I’m going to play with this approach anew, and see how it works out.  If it does work, I’ll see if I can incorporate this approach into a new version of my book.

## Review and background.

In this series, I’m going to assume a reader interested in geometric algebra, is probably also familiar with a wide variety of concepts, including but not limited to

• vectors,
• coordinates,
• matrices,
• basis,
• change of basis,
• dot product,
• real and complex numbers,
• rotations and translations,
• vector spaces, and
• linear transformations.

Despite those assumptions, as mentioned above, I’m going to attempt to build up the basics of vector representation and vector spaces in a systematic fashion, starting from a very elementary level.

My reasons for doing so are mainly to explore the logical sequencing of the ideas required.  I’ve always found well crafted pedagogical sequences rewarding, and will hopefully construct one here that is appreciated by anybody who chooses to follow along.

## Next time.

As preparation for the next article in this series, the reader is asked to watch a short lesson from Vector, not so supervillain extraordinaire (Despicable Me).

## References

[1] C. Doran and A.N. Lasenby. Geometric algebra for physicists. Cambridge University Press New York, Cambridge, UK, 1st edition, 2003.

[2] L. Dorst, D. Fontijne, and S. Mann. Geometric Algebra for Computer Science. Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco, 2007.

[4] D. Hestenes. New Foundations for Classical Mechanics. Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1999.

## My collection of Peeter Joot physics paperbacks

I ordered a copy of my old PHY456 Quantum Mechanics II notes for myself, and it arrived today!  Here it is with it’s buddies (Grad QM and QFT):

With the shipping cost from the US to Canada (because I’m now paying for amazon prime anyways) it’s actually cheaper for me to get a regular copy than to order an author proof, so this time I have no “not for resale” banding.

This little stack of Quantum notes weighs in at about 1050 pages, and makes a rather impressive pile.  There’s a lot of info there, for the bargain price of either free or about $30 USD, depending on whether you want a PDF or print copy of this set. Of course, most people want neither, and get all their quantum mechanics through osmosis from the engineering of the microchips and electronics in their phones and computers. I have to admit that it’s a fun ego boost to see your name in print. In order to maximize the ego boost, you can use my strategy and do large scale vanity press, making a multiple volume set for yourself. Here’s my whole collection, which includes the bulk of my course notes, plus my little book: Based on the height of the stack, I’d guess this is about 3000 pages total, the product of about 10 years of study and work. Making these all available for free to anybody in PDF form surely cripples my potential physical copy sales volume, but that doesn’t matter too much since I’ve set the price so low that I only get a token payment for each copy anyways. Based on linear extrapolation of my sales so far, I’ll recoup my tuition costs (not counting the opportunity cost of working part time while I took the courses) after another 65 years of royalties. ## Finding the cheapest copy of my geometric algebra book on amazon My book, “Geometric Algebra for Electrical Engineers” is available as a free PDF here on my website, but also available in color ($40) and black-and-white ($12) formats on amazon. Both versions are basically offered close to cost, should the reader be like me, preferring a print copy that can be marked up. In fact, I made it available initially just so that I could get a cheap bound copy for my own use that I could mark up myself. I noticed today that amazon now hides the cheapest version of my book, and seems shows the price of a reseller first. For example, if you click the link to the$12 black-and-white version, it now appears that the book is selling for \$13.01

but if you click on “Other Sellers”, the kindle-direct (print on demand) version that amazon offers itself hides further down in the list of sellers.  The version that I’m selling directly through amazon.com is third on the list, despite it being the cheapest:

I guess that I’ve priced the black-and-white version of the book so low, that there are resellers that are willing to try to make some profit selling their own copies.  Do they depend on amazon giving them preferential listing order to make those sales?  I wonder how many of the people who have bought my book have ended up accidentally paying a higher price, using one of these resellers?

It does not appear that any resellers have played this game with the color version of the book, which has a higher price point.  I’m curious now to look at the sales stats for the two variations of the book to see how many of each version are selling (hardly any in either case, as the subject matter is too esoteric, but it was actually enough over the whole year that I did include the revenue on my income taxes.)

## Reflection using Pauli matrices.

In class yesterday (lecture 19, notes not yet posted) we used $$\Bsigma^\T = -\sigma_2 \Bsigma \sigma_2$$, which implicitly shows that $$(\Bsigma \cdot \Bx)^\T$$ is a reflection about the y-axis.
This form of reflection will be familiar to a student of geometric algebra (see [1] — a great book, one copy of which is in the physics library). I can’t recall any mention of the geometrical reflection identity from when I took QM. It’s a fun exercise to demonstrate the reflection identity when constrained to the Pauli matrix notation.

## Theorem: Reflection about a normal.

Given a unit vector $$\ncap \in \mathbb{R}^3$$ and a vector $$\Bx \in \mathbb{R}^3$$ the reflection of $$\Bx$$ about a plane with normal $$\ncap$$ can be represented in Pauli notation as
\begin{equation*}
-\Bsigma \cdot \ncap \Bsigma \cdot \Bx \Bsigma \cdot \ncap.
\end{equation*}

To prove this, first note that in standard vector notation, we can decompose a vector into its projective and rejective components
\label{eqn:reflection:20}
\Bx = (\Bx \cdot \ncap) \ncap + \lr{ \Bx – (\Bx \cdot \ncap) \ncap }.

A reflection about the plane normal to $$\ncap$$ just flips the component in the direction of $$\ncap$$, leaving the rest unchanged. That is
\label{eqn:reflection:40}
-(\Bx \cdot \ncap) \ncap + \lr{ \Bx – (\Bx \cdot \ncap) \ncap }
=
\Bx – 2 (\Bx \cdot \ncap) \ncap.

We may write this in $$\Bsigma$$ notation as
\label{eqn:reflection:60}
\Bsigma \cdot \Bx – 2 \Bx \cdot \ncap \Bsigma \cdot \ncap.

We also know that
\label{eqn:reflection:80}
\begin{aligned}
\Bsigma \cdot \Ba \Bsigma \cdot \Bb &= a \cdot b + i \Bsigma \cdot (\Ba \cross \Bb) \\
\Bsigma \cdot \Bb \Bsigma \cdot \Ba &= a \cdot b – i \Bsigma \cdot (\Ba \cross \Bb),
\end{aligned}

or
\label{eqn:reflection:100}
a \cdot b = \inv{2} \symmetric{\Bsigma \cdot \Ba}{\Bsigma \cdot \Bb},

where $$\symmetric{\Ba}{\Bb}$$ is the anticommutator of $$\Ba, \Bb$$.
Inserting \ref{eqn:reflection:100} into \ref{eqn:reflection:60} we find that the reflection is
\label{eqn:reflection:120}
\begin{aligned}
\Bsigma \cdot \Bx –
\symmetric{\Bsigma \cdot \ncap}{\Bsigma \cdot \Bx}
\Bsigma \cdot \ncap
&=
\Bsigma \cdot \Bx –
{\Bsigma \cdot \ncap}{\Bsigma \cdot \Bx}
\Bsigma \cdot \ncap

{\Bsigma \cdot \Bx}{\Bsigma \cdot \ncap}
\Bsigma \cdot \ncap \\
&=
\Bsigma \cdot \Bx –
{\Bsigma \cdot \ncap}{\Bsigma \cdot \Bx}
\Bsigma \cdot \ncap

{\Bsigma \cdot \Bx} \\
&=

{\Bsigma \cdot \ncap}{\Bsigma \cdot \Bx}
\Bsigma \cdot \ncap,
\end{aligned}

which completes the proof.

When we expand $$(\Bsigma \cdot \Bx)^\T$$ and find
\label{eqn:reflection:n}
(\Bsigma \cdot \Bx)^\T
=
\sigma^1 x^1 – \sigma^2 x^2 + \sigma^3 x^3,

it is clear that this coordinate expansion is a reflection about the y-axis. Knowing the reflection formula above provides a rationale for why we might want to write this in the compact form $$-\sigma^2 (\Bsigma \cdot \Bx) \sigma^2$$, which might not be obvious otherwise.

# References

[1] C. Doran and A.N. Lasenby. Geometric algebra for physicists. Cambridge University Press New York, Cambridge, UK, 1st edition, 2003.

## New version of Geometric Algebra for Electrical Engineers posted.

A new version of Geometric Algebra for Electrical Engineers (V0.1.8) is now posted.  This fixes a number of issues in Chapter II on geometric calculus.  In particular, I had confused definitions of line, area, and volume integrals that were really the application of the fundamental theorem to such integrals.  This is now fixed, and the whole chapter is generally improved and clarified.

## Applied vanity press

Amazon’s createspace turns out to be a very cost effective way to get a personal color copy of large pdf (>250 pages) to markup for review. The only hassle was having to use their app to create cover art (although that took less time than commuting downtown to one of the cheap copy shops near the university.)

As a side effect, after I edit it, I’d have something I could actually list for sale.  Worldwide, I’d guess at least three people would buy it, that is, if they weren’t happy with the pdf version already available.

## The book.

A draft of my book: Geometric Algebra for Electrical Engineers, is now available. I’ve supplied limited distribution copies of some of the early drafts and have had some good review comments of the chapter I (introduction to geometric algebra), and chapter II (multivector calculus) material, but none on the electromagnetism content. In defense of the reviewers, the initial version of the electromagnetism chapter, while it had a lot of raw content, was pretty exploratory and very rough. It’s been cleaned up significantly and is hopefully now more reader friendly.

## Why I wrote this book.

I have been working on a part time M.Eng degree for a number of years. I wasn’t happy with the UofT ECE electromagnetics offerings in recent years, which have been inconsistently offered or unsatisfactory. For example: the microwave circuits course which sounded interesting, and had an interesting text book, was mind numbing, almost entirely about Smith charts. I had to go elsewhere to obtain the M.Eng degree requirements. That elsewhere was a project course.

I proposed a project to an electromagnetism project with the following goals

1. Perform a literature review of applications of geometric algebra to the study of electromagnetism.
2. Identify the subset of the literature that had direct relevance to electrical engineering.
3. Create a complete, and as compact as possible, introduction to the prerequisites required for a graduate or advanced undergraduate electrical engineering student to be able to apply geometric algebra to problems in electromagnetism. With those prerequisites in place, work through the fundamentals of electromagnetism in a geometric algebra context.

In retrospect, doing this project was a mistake. I could have done this work outside of an academic context without paying so much (in both time and money). Somewhere along the way I lost track of the fact that I enrolled on the M.Eng to learn (it provided a way to take grad physics courses on a part time schedule), and got side tracked by degree requirements. Basically I fell victim to a “I may as well graduate” sentiment that would have been better to ignore. All that coupled with the fact that I did not actually get any feedback from my “supervisor”, who did not even read my work (at least so far after one year), made this project-course very frustrating. On the bright side, I really like what I produced, even if I had to do so in isolation.

## Why geometric algebra?

Geometric algebra generalizes vectors, providing algebraic representations of not just directed line segments, but also points, plane segments, volumes, and higher degree geometric objects (hypervolumes.). The geometric algebra representation of planes, volumes and hypervolumes requires a vector dot product, a vector multiplication operation, and a generalized addition operation. The dot product provides the length of a vector and a test for whether or not any two vectors are perpendicular. The vector multiplication operation is used to construct directed plane segments (bivectors), and directed volumes (trivectors), which are built from the respective products of two or three mutually perpendicular vectors. The addition operation allows for sums of scalars, vectors, or any products of vectors. Such a sum is called a multivector.

The power to add scalars, vectors, and products of vectors can be exploited to simplify much of electromagnetism. In particular, Maxwell’s equations for isotropic media can be merged into a single multivector equation
\label{eqn:quaternion2maxwellWithGA:20}
\lr{ \spacegrad + \inv{c} \PD{t}{}} \lr{ \BE + I c \BB } = \eta\lr{ c \rho – \BJ },

where $$\spacegrad$$ is the gradient, $$I = \Be_1 \Be_2 \Be_3$$ is the ordered product of the three R^3 basis vectors, $$c = 1/\sqrt{\mu\epsilon}$$ is the group velocity of the medium, $$\eta = \sqrt{\mu/\epsilon}$$, $$\BE, \BB$$ are the electric and magnetic fields, and $$\rho$$ and $$\BJ$$ are the charge and current densities. This can be written as a single equation
\label{eqn:ece2500report:40}
\lr{ \spacegrad + \inv{c} \PD{t}{}} F = J,

where $$F = \BE + I c \BB$$ is the combined (multivector) electromagnetic field, and $$J = \eta\lr{ c \rho – \BJ }$$ is the multivector current.

Encountering Maxwell’s equation in its geometric algebra form leaves the student with more questions than answers. Yes, it is a compact representation, but so are the tensor and differential forms (or even the quaternionic) representations of Maxwell’s equations. The student needs to know how to work with the representation if it is to be useful. It should also be clear how to use the existing conventional mathematical tools of applied electromagnetism, or how to generalize those appropriately. Individually, there are answers available to many of the questions that are generated attempting to apply the theory, but they are scattered and in many cases not easily accessible.

Much of the geometric algebra literature for electrodynamics is presented with a relativistic bias, or assumes high levels of mathematical or physics sophistication. The aim of this work was an attempt to make the study of electromagnetism using geometric algebra more accessible, especially to other dumb engineering undergraduates like myself. In particular, this project explored non-relativistic applications of geometric algebra to electromagnetism. The end product of this project was a fairly small self contained book, titled “Geometric Algebra for Electrical Engineers”. This book includes an introduction to Euclidean geometric algebra focused on R^2 and R^3 (64 pages), an introduction to geometric calculus and multivector Green’s functions (64 pages), applications to electromagnetism (82 pages), and some appendices. Many of the fundamental results of electromagnetism are derived directly from the multivector Maxwell’s equation, in a streamlined and compact fashion. This includes some new results, and many of the existing non-relativistic results from the geometric algebra literature. As a conceptual bridge, the book includes many examples of how to extract familiar conventional results from simpler multivector representations. Also included in the book are some sample calculations exploiting unique capabilities that geometric algebra provides. In particular, vectors in a plane may be manipulated much like complex numbers, which has a number of advantages over working with coordinates explicitly.

## Followup.

In many ways this work only scratches the surface. Many more worked examples, problems, figures and computer algebra listings should be added. In depth applications of derived geometric algebra relationships to problems customarily tackled with separate electric and magnetic field equations should also be incorporated. There are also theoretical holes, topics covered in any conventional introductory electromagnetism text, that are missing. Examples include the Fresnel relationships for transmission and reflection at an interface, in depth treatment of waveguides, dipole radiation and motion of charged particles, bound charges, and meta materials to name a few. Many of these topics can probably be handled in a coordinate free fashion using geometric algebra. Despite all the work that is required to help bridge the gap between formalism and application, making applied electromagnetism using geometric algebra truly accessible, it is my belief this book makes some good first steps down this path.

The choice that I made to completely avoid the geometric algebra space-time-algebra (STA) is somewhat unfortunate. It is exceedingly elegant, especially in a relativisitic context. Despite that, I think that this was still a good choice from a pedagogical point of view, as most of the prerequisites for an STA based study will have been taken care of as a side effect, making that study much more accessible.

## Generalizing Ampere’s law using geometric algebra.

The question I’d like to explore in this post is how Ampere’s law, the relationship between the line integral of the magnetic field to current (i.e. the enclosed current)
\label{eqn:flux:20}
\oint_{\partial A} d\Bx \cdot \BH = -\int_A \ncap \cdot \BJ,

generalizes to geometric algebra where Maxwell’s equations for a statics configuration (all time derivatives zero) is
\label{eqn:flux:40}

where the multivector fields and currents are
\label{eqn:flux:60}
\begin{aligned}
F &= \BE + I \eta \BH \\
J &= \eta \lr{ c \rho – \BJ } + I \lr{ c \rho_\txtm – \BM }.
\end{aligned}

Here (fictitious) the magnetic charge and current densities that can be useful in antenna theory have been included in the multivector current for generality.

My presumption is that it should be possible to utilize the fundamental theorem of geometric calculus for expressing the integral over an oriented surface to its boundary, but applied directly to Maxwell’s equation. That integral theorem has the form
\label{eqn:flux:80}
\int_A d^2 \Bx \boldpartial F = \oint_{\partial A} d\Bx F,

where $$d^2 \Bx = d\Ba \wedge d\Bb$$ is a two parameter bivector valued surface, and $$\boldpartial$$ is vector derivative, the projection of the gradient onto the tangent space. I won’t try to explain all of geometric calculus here, and refer the interested reader to [1], which is an excellent reference on geometric calculus and integration theory.

The gotcha is that we actually want a surface integral with $$\spacegrad F$$. We can split the gradient into the vector derivative a normal component
\label{eqn:flux:160}

so
\label{eqn:flux:100}
=
\int_A d^2 \Bx \boldpartial F
+
\int_A d^2 \Bx \ncap \lr{ \ncap \cdot \spacegrad } F,

so
\label{eqn:flux:120}
\begin{aligned}
\oint_{\partial A} d\Bx F
&=
\int_A d^2 \Bx \lr{ J – \ncap \lr{ \ncap \cdot \spacegrad } F } \\
&=
\int_A dA \lr{ I \ncap J – \lr{ \ncap \cdot \spacegrad } I F }
\end{aligned}

This is not nearly as nice as the magnetic flux relationship which was nicely split with the current and fields nicely separated. The $$d\Bx F$$ product has all possible grades, as does the $$d^2 \Bx J$$ product (in general). Observe however, that the normal term on the right has only grades 1,2, so we can split our line integral relations into pairs with and without grade 1,2 components
\label{eqn:flux:140}
\begin{aligned}
&=
\int_A dA \gpgrade{ I \ncap J }{0,3} \\
&=
\int_A dA \lr{ \gpgrade{ I \ncap J }{1,2} – \lr{ \ncap \cdot \spacegrad } I F }.
\end{aligned}

Let’s expand these explicitly in terms of the component fields and densities to check against the conventional relationships, and see if things look right. The line integrand expands to
\label{eqn:flux:180}
\begin{aligned}
d\Bx F
&=
d\Bx \lr{ \BE + I \eta \BH }
=
d\Bx \cdot \BE + I \eta d\Bx \cdot \BH
+
d\Bx \wedge \BE + I \eta d\Bx \wedge \BH \\
&=
d\Bx \cdot \BE
– \eta (d\Bx \cross \BH)
+ I (d\Bx \cross \BE )
+ I \eta (d\Bx \cdot \BH),
\end{aligned}

the current integrand expands to
\label{eqn:flux:200}
\begin{aligned}
I \ncap J
&=
I \ncap
\lr{
\frac{\rho}{\epsilon} – \eta \BJ + I \lr{ c \rho_\txtm – \BM }
} \\
&=
\ncap I \frac{\rho}{\epsilon} – \eta \ncap I \BJ – \ncap c \rho_\txtm + \ncap \BM \\
&=
\ncap \cdot \BM
+ \eta (\ncap \cross \BJ)
– \ncap c \rho_\txtm
+ I (\ncap \cross \BM)
+ \ncap I \frac{\rho}{\epsilon}
– \eta I (\ncap \cdot \BJ).
\end{aligned}

We are left with
\label{eqn:flux:220}
\begin{aligned}
\oint_{\partial A}
\lr{
d\Bx \cdot \BE + I \eta (d\Bx \cdot \BH)
}
&=
\int_A dA
\lr{
\ncap \cdot \BM – \eta I (\ncap \cdot \BJ)
} \\
\oint_{\partial A}
\lr{
– \eta (d\Bx \cross \BH)
+ I (d\Bx \cross \BE )
}
&=
\int_A dA
\lr{
\eta (\ncap \cross \BJ)
– \ncap c \rho_\txtm
+ I (\ncap \cross \BM)
+ \ncap I \frac{\rho}{\epsilon}
-\PD{n}{} \lr{ I \BE – \eta \BH }
}.
\end{aligned}

This is a crazy mess of dots, crosses, fields and sources. We can split it into one equation for each grade, which will probably look a little more regular. That is
\label{eqn:flux:240}
\begin{aligned}
\oint_{\partial A} d\Bx \cdot \BE &= \int_A dA \ncap \cdot \BM \\
\oint_{\partial A} d\Bx \cross \BH
&=
\int_A dA
\lr{
– \ncap \cross \BJ
+ \frac{ \ncap \rho_\txtm }{\mu}
– \PD{n}{\BH}
} \\
\oint_{\partial A} d\Bx \cross \BE &=
\int_A dA
\lr{
\ncap \cross \BM
+ \frac{\ncap \rho}{\epsilon}
– \PD{n}{\BE}
} \\
\oint_{\partial A} d\Bx \cdot \BH &= -\int_A dA \ncap \cdot \BJ \\
\end{aligned}

The first and last equations could have been obtained much more easily from Maxwell’s equations in their conventional form more easily. The two cross product equations with the normal derivatives are not familiar to me, even without the fictitious magnetic sources. It is somewhat remarkable that so much can be packed into one multivector equation:
\label{eqn:flux:260}
\oint_{\partial A} d\Bx F
=
I \int_A dA \lr{ \ncap J – \PD{n}{F} }.

# References

[1] A. Macdonald. Vector and Geometric Calculus. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

## The many faces of Maxwell’s equations

[Click here for a PDF of this post with nicer formatting (including equation numbering and references)]

The following is a possible introduction for a report for a UofT ECE2500 project associated with writing a small book: “Geometric Algebra for Electrical Engineers”. Given the space constraints for the report I may have to drop much of this, but some of the history of Maxwell’s equations may be of interest, so I thought I’d share before the knife hits the latex.

## Goals of the project.

This project had a few goals

1. Perform a literature review of applications of geometric algebra to the study of electromagnetism. Geometric algebra will be defined precisely later, along with bivector, trivector, multivector and other geometric algebra generalizations of the vector.
2. Identify the subset of the literature that had direct relevance to electrical engineering.
3. Create a complete, and as compact as possible, introduction of the prerequisites required
geometric algebra to problems in electromagnetism.

## The many faces of electromagnetism.

There is a long history of attempts to find more elegant, compact and powerful ways of encoding and working with Maxwell’s equations.

### Maxwell’s formulation.

Maxwell [12] employs some differential operators, including the gradient $$\spacegrad$$ and Laplacian $$\spacegrad^2$$, but the divergence and gradient are always written out in full using coordinates, usually in integral form. Reading the original Treatise highlights how important notation can be, as most modern engineering or physics practitioners would find his original work incomprehensible. A nice translation from Maxwell’s notation to the modern Heaviside-Gibbs notation can be found in [16].

### Quaterion representation.

In his second volume [11] the equations of electromagnetism are stated using quaterions (an extension of complex numbers to three dimensions), but quaternions are not used in the work. The modern form of Maxwell’s equations in quaternion form is
\label{eqn:ece2500report:220}
\begin{aligned}
\inv{2} \antisymmetric{ \frac{d}{dr} }{ \BH } – \inv{2} \symmetric{ \frac{d}{dr} } { c \BD } &= c \rho + \BJ \\
\inv{2} \antisymmetric{ \frac{d}{dr} }{ \BE } + \inv{2} \symmetric{ \frac{d}{dr} }{ c \BB } &= 0,
\end{aligned}

where $$\ifrac{d}{dr} = (1/c) \PDi{t}{} + \Bi \PDi{x}{} + \Bj \PDi{y}{} + \Bk \PDi{z}{}$$ [7] acts bidirectionally, and vectors are expressed in terms of the quaternion basis $$\setlr{ \Bi, \Bj, \Bk }$$, subject to the relations $$\Bi^2 = \Bj^2 = \Bk^2 = -1, \quad \Bi \Bj = \Bk = -\Bj \Bi, \quad \Bj \Bk = \Bi = -\Bk \Bj, \quad \Bk \Bi = \Bj = -\Bi \Bk$$.
There is clearly more structure to these equations than the traditional Heaviside-Gibbs representation that we are used to, which says something for the quaternion model. However, this structure requires notation that is arguably non-intuitive. The fact that the quaterion representation was abandoned long ago by most electromagnetism researchers and engineers supports such an argument.

### Minkowski tensor representation.

Minkowski introduced the concept of a complex time coordinate $$x_4 = i c t$$ for special relativity [3]. Such a four-vector representation can be used for many of the relativistic four-vector pairs of electromagnetism, such as the current $$(c\rho, \BJ)$$, and the energy-momentum Lorentz force relations, and can also be applied to Maxwell’s equations
\label{eqn:ece2500report:140}
\sum_{\mu= 1}^4 \PD{x_\mu}{F_{\mu\nu}} = – 4 \pi j_\nu.
\sum_{\lambda\rho\mu=1}^4
\epsilon_{\mu\nu\lambda\rho}
\PD{x_\mu}{F_{\lambda\rho}} = 0,

where
\label{eqn:ece2500report:160}
F
=
\begin{bmatrix}
0 & B_z & -B_y & -i E_x \\
-B_z & 0 & B_x & -i E_y \\
B_y & -B_x & 0 & -i E_z \\
i E_x & i E_y & i E_z & 0
\end{bmatrix}.

A rank-2 complex (Hermitian) tensor contains all six of the field components. Transformation of coordinates for this representation of the field may be performed exactly like the transformation for any other four-vector. This formalism is described nicely in [13], where the structure used is motivated by transformational requirements. One of the costs of this tensor representation is that we loose the clear separation of the electric and magnetic fields that we are so comfortable with. Another cost is that we loose the distinction between space and time, as separate space and time coordinates have to be projected out of a larger four vector. Both of these costs have theoretical benefits in some applications, particularly for high energy problems where relativity is important, but for the low velocity problems near and dear to electrical engineers who can freely treat space and time independently, the advantages are not clear.

### Modern tensor formalism.

The Minkowski representation fell out of favour in theoretical physics, which settled on a real tensor representation that utilizes an explicit metric tensor $$g_{\mu\nu} = \pm \textrm{diag}(1, -1, -1, -1)$$ to represent the complex inner products of special relativity. In this tensor formalism, Maxwell’s equations are also reduced to a set of two tensor relationships ([10], [8], [5]).
\label{eqn:ece2500report:40}
\begin{aligned}
\partial_\mu F^{\mu \nu} &= \mu_0 J^\nu \\
\epsilon^{\alpha \beta \mu \nu} \partial_\beta F_{\mu \nu} &= 0,
\end{aligned}

where $$F^{\mu\nu}$$ is a \textit{real} rank-2 antisymmetric tensor that contains all six electric and magnetic field components, and $$J^\nu$$ is a four-vector current containing both charge density and current density components. \Cref{eqn:ece2500report:40} provides a unified and simpler theoretical framework for electromagnetism, and is used extensively in physics but not engineering.

### Differential forms.

It has been argued that a differential forms treatment of electromagnetism provides some of the same theoretical advantages as the tensor formalism, without the disadvantages of introducing a hellish mess of index manipulation into the mix. With differential forms it is also possible to express Maxwell’s equations as two equations. The free-space differential forms equivalent [4] to the tensor equations is
\label{eqn:ece2500report:60}
\begin{aligned}
d \alpha &= 0 \\
d *\alpha &= 0,
\end{aligned}

where
\label{eqn:ece2500report:180}
\alpha = \lr{ E_1 dx^1 + E_2 dx^2 + E_3 dx^3 }(c dt) + H_1 dx^2 dx^3 + H_2 dx^3 dx^1 + H_3 dx^1 dx^2.

One of the advantages of this representation is that it is valid even for curvilinear coordinate representations, which are handled naturally in differential forms. However, this formalism also comes with a number of costs. One cost (or benefit), like that of the tensor formalism, is that this is implicitly a relativistic approach subject to non-Euclidean orthonormality conditions $$(dx^i, dx^j) = \delta^{ij}, (dx^i, c dt) = 0, (c dt, c dt) = -1$$. Most grievous of the costs is the requirement to use differentials $$dx^1, dx^2, dx^3, c dt$$, instead of a more familar set of basis vectors, even for non-curvilinear coordinates. This requirement is easily viewed as unnatural, and likely one of the reasons that electromagnetism with differential forms has never become popular.

### Vector formalism.

Euclidean vector algebra, in particular the vector algebra and calculus of $$R^3$$, is the de-facto language of electrical engineering for electromagnetism. Maxwell’s equations in the Heaviside-Gibbs vector formalism are
\label{eqn:ece2500report:20}
\begin{aligned}
\spacegrad \cross \BE &= – \PD{t}{\BB} \\
\spacegrad \cross \BH &= \BJ + \PD{t}{\BD} \\
\spacegrad \cdot \BD &= \rho \\
\end{aligned}

We are all intimately familiar with these equations, with the dot and the cross products, and with gradient, divergence and curl operations that are used to express them.
Given how comfortable we are with this mathematical formalism, there has to be a really good reason to switch to something else.

### Space time algebra (geometric algebra).

An alternative to any of the electrodynamics formalisms described above is STA, the Space Time Algebra. STA is a relativistic geometric algebra that allows Maxwell’s equations to be combined into one equation ([2], [6])
\label{eqn:ece2500report:80}

where
\label{eqn:ece2500report:200}
F = \BE + I c \BB \qquad (= \BE + I \eta \BH)

is a bivector field containing both the electric and magnetic field “vectors”, $$\grad = \gamma^\mu \partial_\mu$$ is the spacetime gradient, $$J$$ is a four vector containing electric charge and current components, and $$I = \gamma_0 \gamma_1 \gamma_2 \gamma_3$$ is the spacetime pseudoscalar, the ordered product of the basis vectors $$\setlr{ \gamma_\mu }$$. The STA representation is explicitly relativistic with a non-Euclidean relationships between the basis vectors $$\gamma_0 \cdot \gamma_0 = 1 = -\gamma_k \cdot \gamma_k, \forall k > 0$$. In this formalism “spatial” vectors $$\Bx = \sum_{k>0} \gamma_k \gamma_0 x^k$$ are represented as spacetime bivectors, requiring a small slight of hand when switching between STA notation and conventional vector representation. Uncoincidentally $$F$$ has exactly the same structure as the 2-form $$\alpha$$ above, provided the differential 1-forms $$dx^\mu$$ are replaced by the basis vectors $$\gamma_\mu$$. However, there is a simple complex structure inherent in the STA form that is not obvious in the 2-form equivalent. The bivector representation of the field $$F$$ directly encodes the antisymmetric nature of $$F^{\mu\nu}$$ from the tensor formalism, and the tensor equivalents of most STA results can be calcualted easily.

Having a single PDE for all of Maxwell’s equations allows for direct Green’s function solution of the field, and has a number of other advantages. There is extensive literature exploring selected applications of STA to electrodynamics. Many theoretical results have been derived using this formalism that require significantly more complex approaches using conventional vector or tensor analysis. Unfortunately, much of the STA literature is inaccessible to the engineering student, practising engineers, or engineering instructors. To even start reading the literature, one must learn geometric algebra, aspects of special relativity and non-Euclidean geometry, generalized integration theory, and even some tensor analysis.

### Paravector formalism (geometric algebra).

In the geometric algebra literature, there are a few authors who have endorsed the use of Euclidean geometric algebras for relativistic applications ([1], [14])
These authors use an Euclidean basis “vector” $$\Be_0 = 1$$ for the timelike direction, along with a standard Euclidean basis $$\setlr{ \Be_i }$$ for the spatial directions. A hybrid scalar plus vector representation of four vectors, called paravectors is employed. Maxwell’s equation is written as a multivector equation
\label{eqn:ece2500report:120}
\lr{ \spacegrad + \inv{c} \PD{t}{} } F = J,

where $$J$$ is a multivector source containing both the electric charge and currents, and $$c$$ is the group velocity for the medium (assumed uniform and isometric). $$J$$ may optionally include the (fictitious) magnetic charge and currents useful in antenna theory. The paravector formalism uses a the hybrid electromagnetic field representation of STA above, however, $$I = \Be_1 \Be_2 \Be_3$$ is interpreted as the $$R^3$$ pseudoscalar, the ordered product of the basis vectors $$\setlr{ \Be_i }$$, and $$F$$ represents a multivector with vector and bivector components. Unlike STA where $$\BE$$ and $$\BB$$ (or $$\BH$$) are interpretted as spacetime bivectors, here they are plain old Euclidian vectors in $$R^3$$, entirely consistent with conventional Heaviyside-Gibbs notation. Like the STA Maxwell’s equation, the paravector form is directly invertible using Green’s function techniques, without requiring the solution of equivalent second order potential problems, nor any requirement to take the derivatives of those potentials to determine the fields.

Lorentz transformation and manipulation of paravectors requires a variety of conjugation, real and imaginary operators, unlike STA where such operations have the same complex exponential structure as any 3D rotation expressed in geometric algebra. The advocates of the paravector representation argue that this provides an effective pedagogical bridge from Euclidean geometry to the Minkowski geometry of special relativity. This author agrees that this form of Maxwell’s equations is the natural choice for an introduction to electromagnetism using geometric algebra, but for relativistic operations, STA is a much more natural and less confusing choice.

## Results.

The end product of this project was a fairly small self contained book, titled “Geometric Algebra for Electrical Engineers”. This book includes an introduction to Euclidean geometric algebra focused on $$R^2$$ and $$R^3$$ (64 pages), an introduction to geometric calculus and multivector Green’s functions (64 pages), and applications to electromagnetism (75 pages). This report summarizes results from this book, omitting most derivations, and attempts to provide an overview that may be used as a road map for the book for further exploration. Many of the fundamental results of electromagnetism are derived directly from the geometric algebra form of Maxwell’s equation in a streamlined and compact fashion. This includes some new results, and many of the existing non-relativistic results from the geometric algebra STA and paravector literature. It will be clear to the reader that it is often simpler to have the electric and magnetic on equal footing, and demonstrates this by deriving most results in terms of the total electromagnetic field $$F$$. Many examples of how to extract the conventional electric and magnetic fields from the geometric algebra results expressed in terms of $$F$$ are given as a bridge between the multivector and vector representations.

The aim of this work was to remove some of the prerequisite conceptual roadblocks that make electromagnetism using geometric algebra inaccessbile. In particular, this project explored non-relativistic applications of geometric algebra to electromagnetism. After derivation from the conventional Heaviside-Gibbs representation of Maxwell’s equations, the paravector representation of Maxwell’s equation is used as the starting point for of all subsequent analysis. However, the paravector literature includes a confusing set of conjugation and real and imaginary selection operations that are tailored for relativisitic applications. These are not neccessary for low velocity applications, and have been avoided completely with the aim of making the subject more accessibility to the engineer.

In the book an attempt has been made to avoid introducing as little new notation as possible. For example, some authors use special notation for the bivector valued magnetic field $$I \BB$$, such as $$\boldsymbol{\mathcal{b}}$$ or $$\Bcap$$. Given the inconsistencies in the literature, $$I \BB$$ (or $$I \BH$$) will be used explicitly for the bivector (magnetic) components of the total electromagnetic field $$F$$. In the geometric algebra literature, there are conflicting conventions for the operator $$\spacegrad + (1/c) \PDi{t}{}$$ which we will call the spacetime gradient after the STA equivalent. For examples of different notations for the spacetime gradient, see [9], [1], and [15]. In the book the spacetime gradient is always written out in full to avoid picking from or explaining some of the subtlties of the competing notations.

Some researchers will find it distasteful that STA and relativity have been avoided completely in this book. Maxwell’s equations are inherently relativistic, and STA expresses the relativistic aspects of electromagnetism in an exceptional and beautiful fashion. However, a student of this book will have learned the geometric algebra and calculus prerequisites of STA. This makes the STA literature much more accessible, especially since most of the results in the book can be trivially translated into STA notation.

# References

[1] William Baylis. Electrodynamics: a modern geometric approach, volume 17. Springer Science \& Business Media, 2004.

[2] C. Doran and A.N. Lasenby. Geometric algebra for physicists. Cambridge University Press New York, Cambridge, UK, 1st edition, 2003.

[3] Albert Einstein. Relativity: The special and the general theory, chapter Minkowski’s Four-Dimensional Space. Princeton University Press, 2015. URL http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/5001.

[4] H. Flanders. Differential Forms With Applications to the Physical Sciences. Courier Dover Publications, 1989.

[5] David Jeffrey Griffiths and Reed College. Introduction to electrodynamics. Prentice hall Upper Saddle River, NJ, 3rd edition, 1999.

[6] David Hestenes. Space-time algebra, volume 1. Springer, 1966.

[7] Peter Michael Jack. Physical space as a quaternion structure, i: Maxwell equations. a brief note. arXiv preprint math-ph/0307038, 2003. URL https://arxiv.org/abs/math-ph/0307038.

[8] JD Jackson. Classical Electrodynamics. John Wiley and Sons, 2nd edition, 1975.

[9] Bernard Jancewicz. Multivectors and Clifford algebra in electrodynamics. World Scientific, 1988.

[10] L.D. Landau and E.M. Lifshitz. The classical theory of fields. Butterworth-Heinemann, 1980. ISBN 0750627689.

[11] James Clerk Maxwell. A treatise on electricity and magnetism, volume II. Merchant Books, 1881.

[12] James Clerk Maxwell. A treatise on electricity and magnetism, third edition, volume I. Dover publications, 1891.

[13] M. Schwartz. Principles of Electrodynamics. Dover Publications, 1987.

[14] Chappell et al. A simplified approach to electromagnetism using geometric algebra. arXiv preprint arXiv:1010.4947, 2010.

[15] Chappell et al. Geometric algebra for electrical and electronic engineers. 2014.

[16] Chappell et al. Geometric Algebra for Electrical and Electronic Engineers, 2014

## Three more geometric algebra tutorials on youtube.

Here’s three more fairly short Geometric Algebra related tutorials that I’ve posted on youtube