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This subject studies the fundamental concepts of functions of several variables and vector calculus. It develops the manipulation of partial derivatives and vector differential operators. The gradient vector is used to obtain constrained extrema of functions of several variables. Line, surface and volume integrals are evaluated and related by various integral theorems. Vector differential operators are also studied using curvilinear coordinates.
Functions of several variables topics include limits, continuity, differentiability, the chain rule, Jacobian, Taylor polynomials and Lagrange multipliers. Vector calculus topics include vector fields, flow lines, curvature, torsion, gradient, divergence, curl and Laplacian. Integrals over paths and surfaces topics include line, surface and volume integrals; change of variables; applications including averages, moments of inertia, centre of mass; Green's theorem, Divergence theorem in the plane, Gauss' divergence theorem, Stokes' theorem; and curvilinear coordinates.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, the student should :
- Understand calculus of functions of several variables; differential operators; line, surface and volume integrals; curvilinear coordinates; integral theorems
- Have developed the ability to work with limits and continuity; obtain extrema of functions of several variables; calculate line, surface and volume integrals; work in curvilinear coordinates; apply integral theorems
- Appreciate the fundamental concepts of vector calculus; the relations between line, surface and volume integrals.
In addition to learning specific skills that will assist students in their future careers in science, they will have the opportunity to develop generic skills that will assist them in any future career path. These include
- problem-solving skills: the ability to engage with unfamiliar problems and identify relevant solution strategies;
- analytical skills: the ability to construct and express logical arguments and to work in abstract or general terms to increase the clarity and efficiency of analysis;
- collaborative skills: the ability to work in a team;
- time management skills: the ability to meet regular deadlines while balancing competing commitments.
Last updated: 20 February 2024