# Divergences and Delta Functions

There’s an identity in electromagnetism which has been bugging me since college.

Gauss’s law says that the divergence of the electric field is equivalent to the charge distribution: \(\del \cdot \b{E} = \rho\). But in order to use this for a point charge—which is the most basic example in the subject!—we already don’t have the mathematical objects we need to calculate the divergence on the left or to represent the charge distribution on the right.

After all, the field of a point charge has to be \(\b{E} = q \hat{\b{r}}/4 \pi r^2\), and since its charge should be concentrated at a point it has to be a delta function: \(\del \cdot (q \hat{\b{r}}/4 \pi r^2) = q \delta(\b{x})\). In your multivariable-calculus-based E&M class you might mention this briefly, at best. Yet it is… kinda weird? And important? It feels like it should make a basic fact that lives inside of a larger intuitive framework of divergences and delta functions and everything else.