A Gaussian surface (sometimes abbreviated as G.S.) is a closed surface in three-dimensional space through which the flux of a vector field is calculated; usually the gravitational field, the electric field, or magnetic field. It is an arbitrary closed surface S = ∂V (the boundary of a 3-dimensional region V) used in conjunction with Gauss's law for the corresponding field (Gauss's law, Gauss's law for magnetism, or Gauss's law for gravity) by performing a surface integral, in order to calculate the total amount of the source quantity enclosed; e.g., amount of gravitational mass as the source of the gravitational field or amount of electric charge as the source of the electrostatic field, or vice versa: calculate the fields for the source distribution.
For concreteness, the electric field is considered in this article, as this is the most frequent type of field the surface concept is used for.
Gaussian surfaces are usually carefully chosen to exploit symmetries of a situation to simplify the calculation of the surface integral. If the Gaussian surface is chosen such that for every point on the surface the component of the electric field along the normal vector is constant, then the calculation will not require difficult integration as the constants which arise can be taken out of the integral. It is defined as the closed surface in three dimensional space by which the flux of vector field be calculated.