I have a Cartesian tensor $\chi_{ijk}$ and I want to express the elements in terms of a new basis to get $\chi_{ijk}^\prime$. The transformation is represented using $a_{ij}$. The tensor transforms as $\chi_{ijk}^\prime = a_{il}a_{jm}a_{kn}\chi_{lmn}$. Is there a way to implement this change of basis in Mathematica? I am new to tensors in general as well as their representation in Mathematica so any help is appreciated.


2 Answers 2


You can do it as follows:

X = Array[x, {3, 3, 3}];
A = Array[a, {3, 3}];

TensorContract[TensorProduct[A, A, A, X], {{2, 7}, {4, 8}, {6, 9}}]

Look at your expression A[i,l] A[j,m] A[k,n] X[l,m,n], count positions of repeated indices and you will see that each contraction pair corresponds to a repeated index.

However, there is a problem there: TensorProduct constructs a big intermediate array, and we don't need it. If your arrays have large dimensions, this intermediate array can be enormous. It can be avoided as follows:

Activate[TensorContract[Inactive[TensorProduct][A, A, A, X], {{2, 7}, {4, 8}, {6, 9}}]]

The idea is that Inactive prevents the construction of the intermediate array, but TensorContract knows what to do. It returns another Inactive[TensorProduct][...] expression, so we need to undo that with the final Activate.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot! I was looking at using higher order tensors and this will help me save some computation time. $\endgroup$
    – user27480
    Oct 22, 2014 at 22:19

I used the ideas from this post, Ways to compute inner products of tensors, to help in obtaining a solution. The main idea here is to transpose the tensor so that the indices in the original expression for $\chi^{\prime}_{ijk}$ are near each other then use the inner product. In Mathematica, use the transpose function to exchange the indices. The proper sequence in Mathematica code for changing the basis of a rank three tensor is:

T = Table[Subscript[t, i, j, k], {i, 3}, {j, 3}, {k, 3}];
R = Table[Subscript[r, i, j], {i, 3}, {j, 3}];
Tprime = Transpose[
R.Transpose[(R.Transpose[(R.Transpose[T, {3, 2, 1}]), {2, 1, 
     3}]), {3, 2, 1}], {1, 3, 2}];

R represents the rotation matrix, T represents the $3^{rd}$ rank tensor, and Tprime is the tensor in the new basis.


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