In mathematics, a differential operator applied to a three-dimensional vector-valued function to yield a vector whose three components are the partial derivatives of the function with respect to its three variables. The symbol for gradient is . Thus, the gradient of a function f, written grad f, or f, is f = if + jf + kf where f, f, and f are the first partial derivatives of f and the vectors i, j, and k are the unit vectors of the vector space. If in physics, for example, f is a temperature field (giving the temperature at every point in a space), f is the direction of the heat-flow vector in the field.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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