How to write the gradient operator symbol in LaTeX

How to write the gradient operator symbol in LaTeX

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This article aims to show you the simplest and easiest way to write the gradient operator symbol in LaTeX.

Quite common in Physics areas such as Electromagnetism and Vector Calculus the gradient operator symbol will appear sooner or later, that is why today you will learn how to write it in your LaTeX document.

Gradient Operator Symbol in LaTeX

The gradient operator is called nabla, which looks like an inverted uppercase greek delta (Δ), another name it may have this symbol is del operator. Most common to see in vector calculus but also used in differential geometry and some physics areas, most of the time if you are working with vectors you will see the nabla.

For example

In LaTeX you use the command \nabla, it inserts the gradient operator symbol and you will need the math mode enabled, besides you don’t need packages due to LaTeX having it by default. For example

$$\nabla \, , \nabla F$$
\nabla output 

Gradient in Vector Calculus 

The nabla symbol is used in vector calculus receiving three names depending on the operation it is performing on a vector, either gradient, divergence or curl. We will focus on the first one, the gradient

The gradient can be represented in three different ways, 

    \item $\nabla f(a)$
    \item $grad\,f$ or grad$f$
    \item $\partial_{i} f$
gradient operator symbol in LaTeX

By definition the gradient operator can be defined as three partial derivatives with respect to each variable for a function f(x,y,z), 

\nabla g(x, y, z) =\frac{\partial g}{\partial x}\hat{i} +
                          \frac{\partial g}{\partial y}\hat{j} +
                                    \frac{\partial g}{\partial k}\hat{z}
Partial derivatives with unit vectors

Gradient Operator Symbol with packages

Some packages have the gradient operator symbol or nabla symbol, the most common is the physics package. With the package loaded you can use the command \grad instead of \nabla to generate the symbol, pretty simple and straightforward.

    With physics package $\backslash$grad for $\grad F(x, y, z)$\\
    $\grad$ vs $\nabla$

\grad vs \nabla sign

You can see the comparative between the symbol with and without the physics package. 

If you are working with HTML the command is &nabla, and for Unicode U+2207 or 8711 in decimal notation.

Now you know how the gradient operator symbols or signs are used for and how to create it in LaTeX. I hope this post was helpful for you, and as always keep writing in LaTeX.

All the images were created in LaTeX by the author.

Further Reading

LaTex Tutorial on Symbols

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Joannah W.
Joannah has been a science publisher with close to 20 years of experience. She wants to help students and researchers stay ahead of the trends and developments in the science community by making science more accessible to everyone.

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