Exterior derivative

On a differentiable manifold, the exterior derivative extends the concept of the differential of a function to differential forms of higher degree. The exterior derivative was first described in its current form by Élie Cartan in 1899. The resulting calculus, known as exterior calculus, allows for a natural, metric-independent generalization of Stokes' theorem, Gauss's theorem, and Green's theorem from vector calculus.

If a differential k-form is thought of as measuring the flux through an infinitesimal k-parallelotope at each point of the manifold, then its exterior derivative can be thought of as measuring the net flux through the boundary of a (k + 1)-parallelotope at each point.


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