2. VECTOR ALGEBRA
The development of the concept of vectors was influenced by the works of the German Mathematician H.G. Grassmann (1809
1877) and the Irishmathematician W.R. Hamilton (1805
1865). It is interesting to note that bothwere linguists, being specialists in Sanskrit literature. While Hamilton occupiedhigh positions, Grassman was a secondary school teacher.The best features of Quaternion Calculus and Cartesian Geometry wereunited, largely through the efforts of the American Mathematician J.B. Gibbs(1839
1903) and Q. Heariside (1850
1925) of England and new subjectcalled Vector Algebra was created. The term vectors was due to Hamilton and itwas derived from the Latin word ‘to carry’. The theory of vectors was alsobased on Grassman’s theory of extension.It was soon realised that vectors would be the ideal tools for the fruitfulstudy of many ideas in geometry and physics. Vector algebra is widely used inthe study of certain type of problems in Geometry, Mechanics, Engineering andother branches of Applied Mathematics.Physical quantities are divided into two categories – scalar quantities andvector quantities.
Scalar : A quantity having only magnitude is called a scalar. It is notrelated to any fixed direction in space.Examples : mass, volume, density, work, temperature,distance, area, real numbers etc.To represent a scalar quantity, we assign a real number to it, which givesits magnitude in terms of a certain basic unit of a quantity. Throughout thischapter, by scalars we shall mean real numbers. Normally, scalars are denotedby
Vector : A quantity having both magnitude and direction is called avector.Examples : displacement, velocity, acceleration, momentum,force, moment of a force, weight etc.
Representation of vectors:
Vectors are represented by directed line segments such that the length of the line segment is the magnitude of the vector and the direction of arrowmarked at one end denotes the direction of the vector.