Thursday, December 22, 2016

Advanced Math Solutions – Vector Calculator, Simple Vector Arithmetic

Vectors are used to represent anything that has a direction and magnitude, length. The most popular example of a vector is velocity. Given a car’s velocity of 50 miles per hour going north from the origin, we can draw a vector. In this blog post, we will focus on the simpler aspects of vectors. We won’t talk about how to graph vectors.

Position vectors are vectors that give the position of a point from the origin. The vector is denoted as \vec{v}=<a_1,\:a_2,\:a_3> and starts at point A=(0, 0, 0) and ends at point B=(a_1,\:a_2,\:a_3).

This brings us to how to find a vector given an initial and final point. Given two points A=(a_1,\:a_2,\:a_3) and B=(b_1,\:b_2,\:b_3), the vector \vec{AB}, which goes from point A to B, is \vec{v}=<b_1-a_1,\:b_2-a_2,\:b_3-a_3>.


Adding vectors is very simple

Given two vectors \vec{a}=<a_1,\:a_2,\:a_3> and  \vec{b}=<b_1,\:b_2,\:b_3> , \vec{a}+\vec{b}=<a_1+b_1,\:a_2+b_2,\:a_3+b_3>

Here’s an example of adding vectors (click here):




Subtracting vectors is just as simple

Given two vectors \vec{a}=<a_1,\:a_2,\:a_3> and  \vec{b}=<b_1,\:b_2,\:b_3> , \vec{a}-\vec{b}=<a_1-b_1,\:a_2-b_2,\:a_3-b_3>

Here’s an example subtracting vectors (click here):





Scalar multiplication is used to lengthen or shorten a vector
Given two vectors \vec{a}=<a_1,\:a_2,\:a_3> and any number c, c\vec{a}=<ca_1,\:ca_2\:ca_3>


Here’s an example of scalar multiplication (click here):



Every vector has a magnitude and a direction. The direction is where its arrow is pointed and the magnitude is the length of the vector. If the magnitude of a vector is 1, then we call that vector a unit vector.


Magnitude is denoted as |\vec{a}| or ||\vec{a}||.
We will use ||\vec{a}||, so we don't get confused with absolute values.
||\vec{a}||=\sqrt{a_x^2+a_y^2}


Here’s an example of finding a vector’s magnitude (click here):




A unit vector \hat{u\:}, is a vector with length 1.
\hat{u\:}=\frac{u}{||u||}


Here’s an example of finding the unit vector of a vector (click here):






Here are some properties to memorize about basic vector arithmetic:











The topics we covered in this blog are simple. I recommend practicing a few examples and memorizing the formulas, and you should be good to go. We are going to cover some of the heavier vector topics in next blog.

Until next time,

Leah

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