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1. The space rate of decrease of a function. Of a function in three space dimensions, the vector normal to surfaces of constant value of the function and directed toward decreasing values, with magnitude equal to the rate of decrease of the function in this direction. The gradient of a function f is denoted by -Missing Image:img src="SP7-g_files/del.gif"f (without the minus sign in the older literature), and is itself a function of both space and time. The ascendant is the negative of the gradient. See del-operator. </dd>
2. Often loosely used to denote the magnitude of the gradient or ascendant. 3. Either the rate of change of a quantity (as temperature, pressure, etc.) or a diagram or curve representing this. [[/a>|/a> ]]


This article is based on NASA's Dictionary of Technical Terms for Aerospace Use