This article is about curl in mathematics. You may want Curl programming language.
In vector calculus, curl is a vector operator that shows a vector field's tendency to rotate about a point. Common examples include:
- In a tornado the winds are rotating about the eye, and a vector field showing wind velocities would have a non-zero curl at the eye, and possibly elsewhere (see vorticity).
- In a vector field that describes the linear velocities of each individual part of a rotating disk, the curl will have a constant value on all parts of the disk.
- If a freeway was described with a vector field, and the lanes had different speed limits, the curl on the borders between lanes would be non-zero.
In mathematics the curl is noted by:
where is the vector differential operator del
, and F
is the vector field the curl is being applied to, and is composed of [Fx
A simple way to remember the expanded form of the curl is to think of it as:
or as the determinant
of the following matrix:
, and k
are the unit vectors for the x, y, and z axes, respectively.
Note that the result of the curl operator acting on a vector field is not really a vector, it is a pseudovector. This means that it takes on opposite values in left-handed and right-handed coordinate systems (see Cartesian coordinate system). (Conversely, the curl of a pseudovector is a vector.)