[Click here for a PDF of this post with nicer formatting]

This is a problem from ece1228. I attempted solutions in a number of ways. One using Geometric Algebra, one devoid of that algebra, and then this method, which combined aspects of both. Of the three methods I tried to obtain this result, this is the most compact and elegant. It does however, require a fair bit of Geometric Algebra knowledge, including the Fundamental Theorem of Geometric Calculus, as detailed in [1], [3] and [2].

Question: Helmholtz theorem

Prove the first Helmholtz’s theorem, i.e. if vector $$\BM$$ is defined by its divergence

\label{eqn:helmholtzDerviationMultivector:20}
\spacegrad \cdot \BM = s

and its curl
\label{eqn:helmholtzDerviationMultivector:40}
\spacegrad \cross \BM = \BC

within a region and its normal component $$\BM_{\textrm{n}}$$ over the boundary, then $$\BM$$ is
uniquely specified.

Answer

The gradient of the vector $$\BM$$ can be written as a single even grade multivector

\label{eqn:helmholtzDerviationMultivector:60}
\spacegrad \BM
= \spacegrad \cdot \BM + I \spacegrad \cross \BM
= s + I \BC.

We will use this to attempt to discover the relation between the vector $$\BM$$ and its divergence and curl. We can express $$\BM$$ at the point of interest as a convolution with the delta function at all other points in space

\label{eqn:helmholtzDerviationMultivector:80}
\BM(\Bx) = \int_V dV’ \delta(\Bx – \Bx’) \BM(\Bx’).

The Laplacian representation of the delta function in \R{3} is

\label{eqn:helmholtzDerviationMultivector:100}
\delta(\Bx – \Bx’) = -\inv{4\pi} \spacegrad^2 \inv{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}},

so $$\BM$$ can be represented as the following convolution

\label{eqn:helmholtzDerviationMultivector:120}
\BM(\Bx) = -\inv{4\pi} \int_V dV’ \spacegrad^2 \inv{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}} \BM(\Bx’).

Using this relation and proceeding with a few applications of the chain rule, plus the fact that $$\spacegrad 1/\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’} = -\spacegrad’ 1/\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}$$, we find

\label{eqn:helmholtzDerviationMultivector:720}
\begin{aligned}
-4 \pi \BM(\Bx)
&= \int_V dV’ \spacegrad^2 \inv{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}} \BM(\Bx’) \\
&= \gpgradeone{\int_V dV’ \spacegrad^2 \inv{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}} \BM(\Bx’)} \\
&= -\gpgradeone{\int_V dV’ \spacegrad \lr{ \spacegrad’ \inv{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}}} \BM(\Bx’)} \\
&= -\gpgradeone{\spacegrad \int_V dV’ \lr{
\spacegrad’ \frac{\BM(\Bx’)}{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}}
-\frac{\spacegrad’ \BM(\Bx’)}{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}}
} } \\
&=
-\gpgradeone{\spacegrad \int_{\partial V} dA’
\ncap \frac{\BM(\Bx’)}{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}}
}
+\gpgradeone{\spacegrad \int_V dV’
\frac{s(\Bx’) + I\BC(\Bx’)}{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}}
} \\
&=
-\gpgradeone{\spacegrad \int_{\partial V} dA’
\ncap \frac{\BM(\Bx’)}{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}}
}
+\spacegrad \int_V dV’
\frac{s(\Bx’)}{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}}
+\spacegrad \cdot \int_V dV’
\frac{I\BC(\Bx’)}{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}}.
\end{aligned}

By inserting a no-op grade selection operation in the second step, the trivector terms that would show up in subsequent steps are automatically filtered out. This leaves us with a boundary term dependent on the surface and the normal and tangential components of $$\BM$$. Added to that is a pair of volume integrals that provide the unique dependence of $$\BM$$ on its divergence and curl. When the surface is taken to infinity, which requires $$\Abs{\BM}/\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’} \rightarrow 0$$, then the dependence of $$\BM$$ on its divergence and curl is unique.

In order to express final result in traditional vector algebra form, a couple transformations are required. The first is that

\label{eqn:helmholtzDerviationMultivector:800}
\gpgradeone{ \Ba I \Bb } = I^2 \Ba \cross \Bb = -\Ba \cross \Bb.

For the grade selection in the boundary integral, note that

\label{eqn:helmholtzDerviationMultivector:740}
\begin{aligned}
\gpgradeone{ \spacegrad \ncap \BX }
&=
\gpgradeone{ \spacegrad (\ncap \cdot \BX) }
+
\gpgradeone{ \spacegrad (\ncap \wedge \BX) } \\
&=
\spacegrad (\ncap \cdot \BX)
+
\gpgradeone{ \spacegrad I (\ncap \cross \BX) } \\
&=
\spacegrad (\ncap \cdot \BX)

\spacegrad \cross (\ncap \cross \BX).
\end{aligned}

These give

\label{eqn:helmholtzDerviationMultivector:721}
\boxed{
\begin{aligned}
\BM(\Bx)
&=
\spacegrad \inv{4\pi} \int_{\partial V} dA’ \ncap \cdot \frac{\BM(\Bx’)}{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}}

\spacegrad \cross \inv{4\pi} \int_{\partial V} dA’ \ncap \cross \frac{\BM(\Bx’)}{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}} \\
&-\spacegrad \inv{4\pi} \int_V dV’
\frac{s(\Bx’)}{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}}
+\spacegrad \cross \inv{4\pi} \int_V dV’
\frac{\BC(\Bx’)}{\Abs{\Bx – \Bx’}}.
\end{aligned}
}

References

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

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

[3] Garret Sobczyk and Omar Le’on S’anchez. Fundamental theorem of calculus. Advances in Applied Clifford Algebras, 21:221–231, 2011. URL https://arxiv.org/abs/0809.4526.