# Curl of a Vector Field

Delve into the heart of engineering mathematics with the fascinating concept of the Curl of a Vector Field. This meticulous examination will aid you in comprehending the meaning, importance, and application of this fundamental tool in engineering. Starting with the basics, you'll explore the connection and variations between the curl and divergence of a vector field before diving into detailed explanations of its derivation. Don't miss practical examples and in-depth discussions on calculations, including seasoned tips and tricks. Ultimately, understand the real-world applications of Curl of a Vector Field in modern engineering scenarios. Comprehending this concept will undoubtedly bolster your mathematical prowess in the realm of engineering.

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## Understanding Curl of a Vector Field Meaning

The curl of a vector field, often simply called the 'curl', is a vector operator that shows the rotation or angular momentum of a material about the axis, given by the curl vector field. Specifically, it measures how much the vector field rotates at a given point.

### Fundamentals of Curl of a Vector Field Meaning

In mathematics and physics, understanding the fundamentals of curl of a vector field is crucial. The curl is determined using a mathematical operator called a del, or 'nabla', denoted as ∇. Coupled with the cross product, these tools provide an insight into the rotation or circulation of a vector field. In Cartesian coordinates, the curl for a vector field F, denoted as curl F or ∇ × F, is computed as follows: $\text{curl } \mathbf{F} = \nabla \times \mathbf{F} = \begin{vmatrix} \mathbf{i} & \mathbf{j} & \mathbf{k} \\ \frac{\partial}{\partial x} & \frac{\partial}{\partial y} & \frac{\partial}{\partial z} \\ F_x & F_y & F_z \\ \end{vmatrix}$

Assuming a vector field F = xi+yj+zk, let's compute the curl. $\text{curl } \mathbf{F} = \nabla \times \mathbf{F} = \begin{vmatrix} \mathbf{i} & \mathbf{j} & \mathbf{k} \\ \frac{\partial}{\partial x} & \frac{\partial}{\partial y} & \frac{\partial}{\partial z} \\ x & y & z \\ \end{vmatrix}$ This gives us a curl F of 0i - 0j + 0k = 0. This suggests that there is no rotation or circulation at any point in the vector field F.

### The Importance of Curl in Engineering Mathematics

The concept of curl is a fundamental tool in the fields of electromagnetism and fluid dynamics. In engineering mathematics:
• It is used to analyse rotational fields. These could be an actual rotation, such as a spinning fluid, or a rotational effect like the swirl of a magnetic field around a wire.
• Curl gives a measurement of the circulation of the field per unit area and the direction of the axes about which the circulation occurs.
• In fluid dynamics, the curl of a fluid's velocity field represents the vorticity or local spinning motion of the fluid near specific points.
• In electromagnetism, Maxwell’s four equations are written using the curl.

In electromagnetism, the curl of the electric field E gives a negative rate of change of the magnetic field B. Similarly, the curl of the magnetic field leads to the electric current and rate of change of the electric field. These principles form the base for Faraday's Law and Ampère's Law respectively. Also, the no rotation property of electrostatic and magnetostatic fields is represented by curl E = 0 and curl B = 0 respectively.

 Subject Use of curl Fluid Dynamics Describes the vorticity or local spinning motion of the fluid near specific points Electromagnetism Used to represent Maxwell's four equations which describe the fundamentals of electric and magnetic fields

## Exploring Curl and Divergence of a Vector Field

In the field of vector calculus, two notable operations applied to vector fields are the curl and divergence. These mathematical procedures provide relevant insights into the vector fields and are widely used across disciplines such as physics, engineering, and computer graphics.

### The Relationship between Curl and Divergence of a Vector Field

Curl and divergence, though distinct mathematical operations, both serve to analyse certain aspects of vector fields. The curl of a vector field, as previously discussed, is a vector quantity that measures the rotational or swirling behaviour of the field. Understood as the tendency of the field to rotate about a point, the curl operation is defined mathematically as: $\text{curl } \mathbf{F} = \nabla \times \mathbf{F} = \begin{vmatrix} \mathbf{i} & \mathbf{j} & \mathbf{k} \\ \frac{\partial}{\partial x} & \frac{\partial}{\partial y} & \frac{\partial}{\partial z} \\ F_x & F_y & F_z \\ \end{vmatrix}$ On the other hand, the divergence of a vector field is a scalar quantity that represents the magnitude of a field's source or the rate at which "fluid" exits or enters a point. The divergence operation is defined as: $\text{div } \mathbf{F} = \nabla \cdot \mathbf{F} = \frac{\partial F_x}{\partial x} + \frac{\partial F_y}{\partial y} + \frac{\partial F_z}{\partial z}$ Both curl and divergence operations notably involve the del operator (∇), also known as the gradient or nabla operator, which emphasises their roles as differential operators on vector fields. In particular, curl and divergence are related through the Helmholtz's theorem (also known as the fundamental theorem of vector calculus). This theorem states that any sufficiently smooth, rapidly decreasing vector field in three dimensions can be resolved into the sum of an irrotational (curl-free) vector field and a solenoidal (divergence-free) vector field.

### Identifying Differences: Curl vs Divergence of a Vector Field

Although both are operations on vector fields, the curl and divergence illustrate distinctly different physical and geometrical interpretations and behaviours.
• Type of Output: The curl of a vector field results in another vector field, thus showing vector behaviour. In contrast, the divergence of a vector field yields a scalar field, reflecting scalar properties.
• Conceptual Meaning: The curl highlights the rotational aspect of the field. It identifies the "swirling" or "rotational" tendency of the field vectors. On the other hand, the divergence pertains to the idea of flux, the rate at which field lines are originating from or converging towards a point.
In this table, you'll find a summarised comparison of both operations:
 Curl Divergence Output Vector Field Scalar Field Role Assesses Rotational Tendency Measures Field Flux
Understanding the differences and complementarity between curl and divergence is crucial in many areas of study, including fluid dynamics, electromagnetic theory, and heat transfer, to mention a few. They provide detailed information about the geometrical and physical characteristics of the vector field and evoke complementary perspectives on the nature of the field.

## In-Depth Explanation: Curl of a Vector Field Derivation

Getting into the derivation of curl, which is a critical tool in the vector calculus repertoire, can be an invigorating journey. By understanding the key steps and the underlying principles involved, the process can become significantly more manageable and even enjoyable. Knowledge of partial derivatives and the Del operator helps in deriving the curl formula.

### Steps to Derive the Curl of a Vector Field

Delving deep into the derivation of the curl of a vector field, there are numerous steps to take into account. A vector field $$\mathbf{F}$$, in Cartesian coordinates, is generally defined as: $\mathbf{F} = F_x \mathbf{i} + F_y \mathbf{j} + F_z \mathbf{k}$ where $$\mathbf{i}$$, $$\mathbf{j}$$, $$\mathbf{k}$$ are the unit vectors in the x, y, and z directions respectively, and $$F_x$$, $$F_y$$, $$F_z$$ are the scalar field components. The curl operation is represented as $$\nabla \times \mathbf{F}$$. Here, $$\nabla$$ or 'nabla' is known as the vector differential operator or Del operator represented as $\nabla = \frac{\partial}{\partial x} \mathbf{i} + \frac{\partial}{\partial y} \mathbf{j} + \frac{\partial}{\partial z} \mathbf{k}$ For a vector field $$\mathbf{F}$$, the Curl of $$\mathbf{F}$$ is determined through the cross product of del operator $$\nabla$$ with the vector field $$\mathbf{F}$$. Here is the step-by-step mathematical representation of this process: $\nabla \times \mathbf{F} = \begin{vmatrix} \mathbf{i} & \mathbf{j} & \mathbf{k} \\ \frac{\partial}{\partial x} & \frac{\partial}{\partial y} & \frac{\partial}{\partial z} \\ F_x & F_y & F_z \\ \end{vmatrix}$ This is a determinant solution of a $$3 \times 3$$ matrix, which results in a vector with three components. The derived formula for the curl of a vector field, $$\mathbf{F}$$, becomes: $\nabla \times \mathbf{F} = \left(\frac{\partial F_z}{\partial y} - \frac{\partial F_y}{\partial z} \right) \mathbf{i} - \left(\frac{\partial F_z}{\partial x} - \frac{\partial F_x}{\partial z} \right) \mathbf{j} + \left(\frac{\partial F_y}{\partial x} - \frac{\partial F_x}{\partial y} \right) \mathbf{k}$ This final expression gives an in-depth rendering of the curl derivation, breaking it down to its most fundamental components.

### Importance and Usage of Curl of a Vector Field Derivation in Engineering Mathematics

In the domain of engineering mathematics, the curl of a vector field has far-ranging uses. Its derivation is a fundamental mechanism in this field, acting as an invaluable asset for analysing various physical phenomena. Curl plays an indispensable role in Electromagnetism, where it's used intensely in Maxwell's equations. These equations encapsulate fundamental laws of electric and magnetic fields. The curl of the electric field indicates the negative rate of change of the magnetic field and vice versa. $\nabla \times \mathbf{E} = - \frac{\partial \mathbf{B}}{\partial t}\quad \text{Faraday's Law}$ $\nabla \times \mathbf{H} = \mathbf{J} + \frac{\partial \mathbf{D}}{\partial t} \quad \text{modified Ampere's Law}$ Here, $$\mathbf{E}$$ is the electric field, $$\mathbf{H}$$ is the magnetic field, $$\mathbf{D}$$ is the electric flux density, $$\mathbf{B}$$ is the magnetic flux density and $$\mathbf{J}$$ is the current density. In Fluid Mechanics, curl is employed to compute the vorticity of the fluid at any point, providing pivotal insights into the fluid's rotational motion tendencies. It provides the magnitude and direction of the rotation axis, pivotal in characterising turbulent flows. In Heat and Mass Transfer, the curl helps comprehend effects like diffusion and convection in a myriad of engineering applications by diagnosing the rotation of temperature or concentration gradients. The curl derivation, hence, holds great prominence in the realm of engineering mathematics, enabling the mathematical modelling and analysis of numerous physical phenomena.

## Practical Guide: Curl of a Vector Field Example

Having thoroughly explored the theoretical foundation of the curl of a vector field, it's time to move into a practical setting. A detailed example can anchor abstract concepts in tangible calculations, making the concepts more accessible and applicable, especially in the realm of engineering.

### How to Approach a Curl of Vector Field Example

Approaching an example in vector calculus, especially one requiring the computation of the curl of a vector field, involves several key steps. Let's delve into a methodical way of manoeuvring through these problems.

Step 1 – Clarification: First off, make sure you fully understand the problem, including the vector field $$\mathbf{F}$$ to be squared off and the coordinate system in use. Sometimes an example may require a transformation from, say, Cartesian to spherical coordinates, or vice versa.

Step 2 – Setup: Write down the given vector field clearly and fill in the definitions of the curl formula, specifically:

$\nabla \times \mathbf{F} = \left(\frac{\partial F_z}{\partial y} - \frac{\partial F_y}{\partial z} \right) \mathbf{i} - \left(\frac{\partial F_z}{\partial x} - \frac{\partial F_x}{\partial z} \right) \mathbf{j} + \left(\frac{\partial F_y}{\partial x} - \frac{\partial F_x}{\partial y} \right) \mathbf{k}$

Step 3 – Calculation: Calculate each term in the formula separately. This involves performing the specified partial derivatives on each function $$F_x$$, $$F_y$$, and $$F_z$$. After each calculation, double-check your work to prevent small errors from affecting your final result.

Step 4 – Conclusion: Once you've obtained an expression for each component, $$\mathbf{i}$$, $$\mathbf{j}$$, and $$\mathbf{k}$$, compose them to form the curl vector field. This is your final answer. Remember to write it out fully in a readable format.

Each of these steps is essential in solving an example, making smooth navigation through the problem possible, and providing the correct solution.

### Explanation of a Practical Curl of Vector Field Example

Let's delve into a concrete example. Suppose you're given a vector field $$\mathbf{F} = 2xy \mathbf{i} + x^{2} \mathbf{j} + z^{3} \mathbf{k}$$, and the task is to compute the curl of the vector field. Step 1: Identification We identify that the coordinate system used here is Cartesian, with the vector field components being $$F_{x} = 2xy$$, $$F_{y} = x^{2}$$, and $$F_{z} = z^{3}$$. Step 2: Setup Verify the expressions in the curl formula. Step 3: Calculation Now, for the individual derivations to find the curl. Let's proceed: $\left(\frac{\partial F_z}{\partial y} - \frac{\partial F_y}{\partial z}\right) \mathbf{i} = \left(0 - 0\right) \mathbf{i} = 0 \mathbf{i}$ In a similar fashion: $-\left(\frac{\partial F_z}{\partial x} - \frac{\partial F_x}{\partial z}\right) \mathbf{j} =-\left(0 - 0\right) \mathbf{j} = 0 \mathbf{j}$ And finally: $\left(\frac{\partial F_y}{\partial x} - \frac{\partial F_x}{\partial y}\right) \mathbf{k} = \left(2x - 2x\right) \mathbf{k} = 0 \mathbf{k}$ Step 4: Conclusion Combine the results obtained above to get the curl of the vector field, which in this case, is $$0 \mathbf{i} + 0 \mathbf{j} + 0 \mathbf{k}$$ or simply $$0$$. From this example, it's clear that even seemingly complex vector fields can lead to simpler solutions. This detailed step-by-step approach stands as a practical guide in handling further examples in computing the curl of a vector field.

## Evaluating the Curl of a Conservative Vector Field

Conservative vector fields unfold as powerful tools in the realm of engineering and physics, often applied to magnetostatics and electromagnetics. A thorough examination of their behavior is rightfully necessary. The specific subclass of these fields, for which the curl operation yields zero, holds fascinating properties and reveals meaningful insights into these domains.

### Characteristics of a Conservative Vector Field

In mathematical parlance, a vector field $$\mathbf{F}$$ with $$\nabla \times \mathbf{F} = 0$$ is known as a conservative vector field. This label designates a unique characteristic feature: the work done by the field in moving a particle between any two points is path-independent, i.e., the work done depends only on the endpoints and not on the path taken between these points. The primary spatial attributes of a conservative field are:
• Absence of vorticity: The lack of rotation in a conservative field ensures that no vortices or whirlpools can form within it. This can be easily visualised as a fluid flow where no rotational swirls are created.
• Path Independence: If you imagine walking from one point to another in this field, the work done (potential difference) would not depend on the path taken, but only on the initial and final points. This is a crucial concept when dealing with electrical fields, gravitational fields, and specific fluid flow setups.
• Presence of a Potential Function: For a given conservative vector field $$\mathbf{F}$$, it is possible to define a scalar potential function $$\phi$$, such that $$\mathbf{F} = \nabla \phi$$. This function helps determine the force at each point in the field and plays a pivotal role in deriving Maxwell's equations in electromagnetic theory.
An essential aspect of conservative fields is their predictability, following specific laws and behaving in a controlled manner. This particular attribute makes them invaluable for studying several phenomena in electromagnetism and fluid dynamics.

### The Special Case of Curl in Conservative Vector Fields

Given a conservative vector field, the curl of the field stands out as a unique special case. Conservative vector fields have the fascinating property that their curl is always zero, mathematically expressed as $$\nabla \times \mathbf{F} = 0$$. This can be seen straightforwardly from the definitions. Considering the potential function $$\phi$$ and applying the Del operator twice, as in curl grad, we can see that $\nabla \times (\nabla \phi) = 0$ This zero curl provides profound insights into the behaviour of conservative vector fields. In field theory and electromagnetism, the curl represents the field’s rotation. A zero curl hence signifies the absence of rotation or vorticity in the vector field, translating into a non-rotational field. When reiterating the concept in terms of fluid model analogies, a zero curl implies that, if you were to move in the field, there would be no 'twists,' 'turns' or 'swirls'. The field remains 'unstirred', thereby designating it as irrotational. The definition of a conservative field through zero curl holds particularly important in several mathematical and physical contexts, from Stokes' Theorem in vector calculus, through Hamiltonian dynamics in classical mechanics, to Maxwell’s Equations in electromagnetism. Finally, it's important to remember that while these characteristics help define conservative vector fields, they are also indicators of restrictions. The zero curl condition can severly limit the versatility of such fields, marking them unfit for representing more complex phenomena with internal rotations and path-dependent energy changes. The profound implications of such considerations manifest vividly across broad areas of science and engineering, as diverse as fluid flow, circuit theory, electromagnetics, and more.

## Detailed Overview: Curl of a Vector Field Calculations

The Calculations involving the curl of a vector field carry a significant role in vector calculus and subsequently in various areas of physics and engineering. In brief, the curl of a vector field assesses the "rotation" or "twirl" of a field in a three-dimensional (3D) space. Calculation of curl is a crucial skill for those studying fluid dynamics, electromagnetism, and even some categories of mechanical systems.

### Practical Steps for Curl of a Vector Field Calculations

This process of calculating the curl involves a set number of steps and can be smoothly handled with the right approach.

Step 1 – Understand the Problem: Prior to any calculations, ensure that you completely comprehend the problem statement and the nature of the vector field. It is necessary to note its components and the coordinate system.

Step 2 – Implement the Curl Formula: The curl formula is written as:

$\nabla \times \mathbf{F} = \begin{pmatrix} \mathbf{i} & \mathbf{j} & \mathbf{k} \\ \dfrac{\partial}{\partial x} & \dfrac{\partial}{\partial y} & \dfrac{\partial}{\partial z} \\ F_x & F_y & F_z \end{pmatrix}$ This determinant can be evaluated to give the 3 components of the curl of the vector field.

Step 3 – Calculation: Compute the determinant, which involves taking partial derivatives, to get the curl of the vector field.

Step 4 – Verification: Ensure their correctness by backtracking. Neat and methodical work is beneficial here, preventing minor errors from cascading into incorrect results.

Through this, once can safely navigate the process of calculating the curl of a vector field, and with practice the process will become second nature.

### Tips and Tricks for Mastering Curl of a Vector Field Calculations

While thorough knowledge and a systematic approach are mandatory for these calculations, it always helps to have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve. Here are some that can assist:
• When the function F is composed of relatively few terms, it may be easier to calculate the curl component-wise, directly applying the formula of each component of the curl.
• In terms of dimensions, it's important to remember to use consistent units throughout the problem for accurate results. Double check that you are correctly transferring units from the problem statement to your solution.
• When calculations get long and messy, it's worth considering whether you're missing an easier path. For instance, if your vector field is conservative, its curl will always be zero, so you can save a lot of work that way.
• There is often more than one route to a solution. If the usual path appears blocked, see if an alternative viewpoint might simplify things. Lateral thinking is encouraged.
These tips are all about saving time, preventing errors, and preserving sanity. While they won't replace a robust understanding of vector calculus, they are valuable tools to have at your disposal. With these skills under your belt, you'll be ready to tackle even the most intimidating aspects of curl calculation effectively.

## Curl of a Vector Field Applications in Real-World Scenarios

Understanding the underlying mathematical principles of the curl of a vector field can help to unravel insights into real-world phenomena. It's an integral tool for many engineers, used to describe complex scenarios in fields as diverse as aerodynamics, electromagnetics, fluid dynamics, and heat transfer.

### Common Engineering Applications of Curl of a Vector Field

One commonly encountered application area of the curl of a vector field is fluid dynamics, specifically when dealing with rotational flows. Here, the curl provides a measure of the field’s vorticity — a characteristic that describes the field's tendency to rotate. Engineers can use this to determine how particle paths will behave in the fluid. For instance, in the design of turbo machinery like turbines and pumps, they rely on understanding the fluid's rotation to create optimal path trajectories and enhance equipment efficiency.

Bridging to electromagnetism, Faraday’s law operates as an example of how vector fields are used. By examining the curl of the electric field, engineers can deduce how a changing magnetic field within a loop of wire will induce an electric current. This principle forms the basis for electric generators, transformers, and induction coils.

The curl of a vector field has wide applications in aerodynamics too. It's used when considering the distribution of forces around an aircraft. Vorticity distribution plays a critical role in lift generation on wings and the control of vortex induced vibrations. Heat transfer is another domain gaining insights from the curl of a vector field. Convection currents, which are vital to understand for HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) systems, solar heating, and heat exchangers, are best depicted using curl. The transport and distribution of heat can be visualised and optimised, affecting the efficiency of these systems positively. To summarise, the versatility of applications for the curl of a vector field is vast in the engineering world:
• Fluid dynamics
• Electromagnetism
• Aerodynamics
• Heat transfer

### The Impact of Curl of a Vector Field in Modern Engineering Applications

The prominence of curl of a vector field is not only confined to traditional engineering, but it also has a burgeoning impact in modern engineering applications. Remarkably, curl of a vector field is helping define the boundaries of renewable energy engineering, biomechanics, data centres cooling, and even quantum physics.

In renewable energy sphere, the flow of air around wind turbine blades, water currents in hydropower systems, or the circulation of heat in solar thermal systems - all tangibly benefit from the curl. It aids in shaping the optimal design of these systems for enhanced energy extraction and conversion efficiency.

Ongoing research in biomechanical fields is applying the concept of curl to better comprehend the blood circulation in our body. Especially in cardiovascular dynamics, the curl of vector fields can enable the prediction of blood flow patterns and turbulence, which might be key to developing more effective treatments and diagnoses for heart diseases. With the increasing demand for high-performance computing, data centres need effective cooling strategies. Here, the curl of a vector field allows engineers to model and optimise the flow of cooling fluids, which can lead to substantial energy savings and improved device longevity. Finally, to explore the frontiers of quantum physics, researchers use the curl operator. It helps understand phenomena like superconductivity and the behavior of quantum particles in a magnetic field, accelerating advancements in this cutting-edge field. These examples elucidate how the principles of curl of vector fields are permeating innovative applications:
• Renewable Energy Engineering
• Biomechanics
• High-Performance Computing
• Quantum Physics
The repercussions of the curl of a vector field in these spheres are enhancing our technological capabilities, fostering innovative solutions, and empowering several facets of modern engineering to march towards the future. Strides continue to be made in coming up with new and novel techniques to apply these concepts, making it an incredibly relevant study area for budding engineers.

## Curl of a Vector Field - Key takeaways

• Curl and divergence are critical operations in study areas like fluid dynamics, electromagnetic theory, and heat transfer. Curl assesses the rotational tendency of a vector field, while the divergence measures the field flux.
• A vector field in Cartesian coordinates is typically defined as $$\mathbf{F} = F_x \mathbf{i} + F_y \mathbf{j} + F_z \mathbf{k}$$, with i, j, and k being unit vectors and $$F_x$$, $$F_y$$, $$F_z$$ representing scalar field components.
• The curl of a vector field uses the del operator in a cross-product with the vector field to determine the curl. The resulting curl expression provides detailed insight into the geometric and physical properties of the original vector field.
• In engineering mathematics, the curl of a vector field holds significant applications. In electromagnetism, it's crucial to Maxwell's equations, while in fluid mechanics, it calculates fluid vorticity. In heat and mass transfer, the curl diagnoses the rotation of temperature or concentration gradients.
• Conservative vector fields, a subclass with zero curl, have key characteristics like absence of vorticity, path independence, and presence of a potential function. These properties can assist in understanding and analyzing fields in electromagnetism and fluid dynamics.

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How does one calculate the curl of a vector field?
The curl of a vector field is calculated using the del operator (∇) in a cross product with the vector field. In Cartesian coordinates, it results in a new vector with i, j, k components each calculated as the determinant of a 2x2 submatrix from the spatial derivative and vector matrices.
What is the curl of a vector field?
The curl of a vector field is a vector operation that describes the infinitesimal rotation of the field in three-dimensional space. It shows the 'circulation' or 'rotational effect' produced by the field.
What is an example of the curl of the vector field?
An example of the curl of a vector field is the circulation of fluid in a pond when a stone is thrown in. The vector field would be the direction of the fluid at each point and the curl measures the tendency of the fluid to rotate.
What are the divergence and curl of a vector field?
Divergence is a scalar value that represents the rate at which a vector field is diverging from a given point. Conversely, curl refers to a vector quantity that illustrates the 'rotation' or 'circulation' around a specific point within a vector field.
What is the curl of the vector field used for?
The curl of a vector field is used in engineering to analyse and predict the behaviour of certain physical systems such as fluid flow or electromagnetic fields. It essentially measures rotation or circular movement within that field.

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What is the meaning of the 'curl' of a vector field in mathematics and physics?

How is the concept of curl applied in engineering mathematics, particularly in fluid dynamics and electromagnetism?

In a practical example, how is the curl of the vector field $$\mathbf{F} = 2xy \mathbf{i} + x^{2} \mathbf{j} + z^{3} \mathbf{k}$$ computed?

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