The divergence of a vector field at a point is a scalar and is defined as the amount of flux diverging from a unit volume element per unit time around that point.

The divergence of a vector A (= iA_{x} +jA_{Y}+ kA_{z}) differentiable at each point (x, y, z) in a region of space is defined as

Div A = ∆ .A(∂a _{x}/∂x +∂A_{Y}/∂_{Y}+∂A_{Z)}

Physical Significance of Divergence or Divergence in Cartesian Coordinates (or Expression for the Divergence of a Vector Field).

Let there be a small rectangular parallelopiped ABCDEFGH with its centre at 0 (x, y , z ) and the sides having lengths dx, dy and dz are parallel to x , y and z-axes as shown in Figure 7.9.

Let a vector v = i v _{x} + j v _{y} + k v _{z} represent the velocity of the fluid at the centre O of parallelopiped. The rate of change of flow of the liquid in a direction of x-axis may be given

Thus the magnitude of component of v along x-axis at the centre of face BFGC, i.e., v_{1} is given by

V_{1}=V_{X} -1/2 ∂V/∂_{X} D_{X}

Similarly the magnitude of the component of v along x-axis at the centre of the face AEHD, i.e., v_{1} is given by

V_{1}=V_{X} -1/2 ∂V/∂_{X} D_{X}

Here negative sign is taken because the face AEHD is in negative direction of the centre O and the magnitude of v along x-axis is v _{x}.

But the volume of the fluid passing through a face per unit time is defined as,

Flow of volume per second= (Normal component of velocity to the face) x (Area of face)

Therefore, the net fluid entering the face AEHD per unit time

= ( v _{x} -1/2 v_{1}=v_{X} -1/2 ∂V/∂_{X} D_{X)}

Similarly the fluid leaving the face BFGC per unit time

=(v_{x+}1/2 _{1}=V_{X} -1/2 ∂V/∂_{X} D_{X} ) dy dz

Thus the excess of fluid leaving the parallelopiped along x-axis is

= (v _{x} ½ ∂v /∂x dx) dydz-(v_{x -}1/2 ∂v /∂x dx ) dydx

=∂v _{x} /∂x ddydz

In a similar manner, one can find the values of the fluid leaving parallelopiped along y and z-axes as

(∂v_{y=}/∂xdydz and∂v_{z} ∂z )dxdydz

Therefore, the net volume of fluid leaving or diverging or moving out of parallelepiped per unit time.

=(∂v_{y=}/∂x+∂v_{y} /∂y +∂v_{z}/∂z 0 dx Dydz)

where dx dy dz be the volume of parallelopiped. Thus the amount of diverging per unit volume, which is defined as divergence of v may be given as

div v =∂v _{x} /∂x_{y} /∂y +∂v_{z}/∂z

We know the differential operator v is defined as

∆ =I ∂/∂x +j ∂ ∂y +k∂ /∂z

Therefore, the divergence of a vector field v may also be defined as

div v = ‘V.v = (i ∂/∂x +j∂/∂y+ k∂/ ∂z). (iv_{x =}j u _{y }+ku_{z})

= ∂u _{x}/∂y+∂u _{y} /∂y+ ∂u_{z/}∂ _{z})

The divergence being the scalar product of two vectors is scalar. The following conclusions may be drawn from the above expression:

(i) When the div v or ‘∆.v is positive then either the fluid is undergoing expansion or point itself is the source of fluid.

(ii) When the div v is negative then either the fluid is undergoing contraction or the point is the sink of the fluid.

(iii) When div v = 0, then the volume of the fluid entering and leaving are same and hence we can say that the fluid is incompressible.