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Cross Product of Vectors

Cross Product of Vectors

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Exercises on cross products of vectors
Exercises on cross products of vectors

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The Cross Product of Two Vectors In Space

Written by Dr. Julia Arnold Associate Professor of Mathematics Tidewater Community College, Norfolk Campus, Norfolk, VA With Assistance from a VCCS LearningWare Grant

In this lesson you will learn • how to find the cross product of two vectors • how to find an orthogonal vector to a plane defined by two vectors • how to find the area of a parallelogram given two vectors • how to find the volume of a parallelepiped given three vectors

Objective 1
Finding the cross product of two vectors

a3 and b = b1 . denoted as the dot product. The cross product is defined to be for a×b .The Cross Product The cross product of two vectors. represents a vector. b3 a × b = a2b3 − a3b2 .a2 .b2 . unlike a = a1 . a3b1 − a1b3 . a1b2 − a2b1 You are probably wondering if there is an easy way to remember this. The easy way is to use determinants of size 3 x 3. .

k a3 = i (a2b3 ) + j (a3b1 ) + k (a1b2 ) − i (a3b2 ) + j (a1b3 ) + k (a2b1 ) = b3 [ ] (a2b3 − a3b2 )i + (a3b1 − a1b3 ) j + (a1b2 − a2b1 )k . a1b2 − a2b1 Let’s set up a 3 x 3 determinant as follows: 1. Use row 2 for the components of a and row 3 for the components of b. b3 a × b = a2b3 − a3b2 . a3 and b = b1 . a3b1 − a1b3 . First use the unit vectors i . j. 2.a = a1 . and k i a1 b1 j a2 b2 as the first row of the determinant.a2 .b2 .

−2. a = 2.−1 i j k 2 4 5 = 1 −2 −1 i (4(− 1)) + j (5(1)) + k (2(− 2)) − i (5(− 2)) + j (2(− 1)) + k (4(1)) = [ ] (− 4 + 10)i + (51 − −2) j + (− 4 − 4 )k 6i + 7 j − 8k .5 and b = 1. Do the problem before clicking again.Find the cross product for the vectors below.4.

Since the cross product is determined by using determinants. ( ) •  •  •  •  •  u× v+ w = u×v + u×w c u × v = cu × v = u × c v ( )( )( ) ( ) ( )( ) u × 0 = 0× u = 0 u×u = 0 u • v× w = u × v • w ( )( ) . we can understand the algebraic properties of the Cross Product which are: •  u × v = − v × u Which would come from the fact that if you interchange two rows of a determinant you negate the determinant.

Objective 2 find an orthogonal vector to a plane defined by two vectors .

−8 What is the dot product of a = 2.5 .−8 If you answered 0 in both cases.−2. Recall that whenever two non-zero vectors are perpendicular.7. Thus the cross product creates a vector perpendicular to the vectors a and b. you? would be correct.7.−1 and a × b = 6. .−2.5 with a × b = 6.7.4. Orthogonal is another name for perpendicular.Now that you can do a cross product the next step is to see why this is useful.−8 And b = 1. b = 1.−1 with a × b = 6. Let’s look at the 3 vectors from the last problem a = 2. their dot product is 0.4.

0.−1.−3.2. v = − 1.−1. v = − 1.3 .3 • 1.0 .5 = 1 − 2 + 15 = 14 The right hand side i 1 j 2 k 3 = 0 + −3 j − k − (−2k + 0 − 3i ) = 3i − 3 j + k −1 −1 0 3. and w = 5.2.0.0. and w = 5.0 .−1 The left hand side i j k − 1 − 1 0 = i + 0 + 0 − (−5k + j + 0) = i − j + 5k 5 0 −1 1.−1 Solution: u = 1.1 • 5.Show that u • v × w = u × v • w is true for ( )( ) u = 1.2.3 .−1 = 15 + 0 − 1 = 14 .−1.

u× v is orthogonal to both u and v u θ v Remember: orthogonal means perpendicular to .Geometric Properties of the Cross Product Let u and v be nonzero vectors and let theta) be the angle between u and v θ (the Greek letter u× v 1.

v 2 . u 3 and v = v1 . v 3 u × v = u 2 v 3 − u 3 v 2 .u 2 . u1v 2 − u 2 v1 u×v = (u 2 v 3 − u 3 v 2 )2 + (u 3 v1 − u1v 3 )2 + (u1v 2 − u 2 v1 )2 This is the left hand side . u 3 v1 − u1v 3 .Geometric Properties of the Cross Product Let u and v be nonzero vectors and let theta) be the angle between u and v 2. θ (the Greek letter u × v = u v sin θ Proof: u× v u θ v Let u = u1 .

Let u = u1 . u 3 and v = v1 . . In other words.v 2 . equate the radicands.u 2 . v 3 u v sin θ = u12 + u 2 2 + u 3 2 v12 + v 2 2 + v 3 2 1 − cos 2 θ Re call cos θ = u⋅v u v so cos θ = 2 (u ⋅ v) u 2 2 2 v u v sin θ = u v 1 − (u ⋅ v) u 2 2 2 u v = u v u 2 v − u⋅v 2 v ( ) 2 = u 2 v − u⋅v 2 ( ) 2 Now all we need to do is show that the stuff under the radical is the same as the square of the magnitude of the cross product.

v3 r r 2 2 2 u × v = ( u2 v3 − u3v 2 ) + ( u3v1 − u1v 3 ) + ( u1v2 − u2 v 1 ) = r u 2 r2 2 2 v = (u12 + u2 + u32 )(v12 + v2 + v32 ) = u 2 v − u⋅v 2 ( ) 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 u12v12 + u12v2 + u12v32 + u2 v12 + u2 v2 + u2 v32 + u32v12 + u32v2 + u32v32 r r2 −(u ⋅ v) = − ( u1v1 + u2v2 + u3v3 )(u1v1 + u2v2 + u3v3 ) = 2 2 2 −u12v12 − 2u1v1u2 v2 − 2u1v1u3v3 − u2 v2 − 2u2 v2u3v3 − u32 v3 r2 r2 r r2 2 2 2 2 2 2 u v − (u ⋅ v) = u12 v12 + u12v2 + u12v32 + u2 v12 + u2 v2 + u2 v32 + u32v12 + u32v2 + u32v32 2 2 −u12v12 − 2u1v1u2v2 − 2u1v1u3v3 − u2 v2 − 2u2v2u3v3 − u32v32 = 2 2 2 2 u12v2 + u12v32 + u2 v12 + u2 v32 + u32v12 + u32v2 − 2u1v1u2v2 − 2u1v1u3v3 − 2u2v2u3v3 = 2 2 2 2 2 u12v2 − 2u1v1u2v2 + u2 v12 + u12 v32 − 2u1v1u3v3 + u32v12 + u2 v32 − 2u2 v2u3v3 + u3 v2 = (u v 1 2 − u2 v1 ) + ( u1 v3 − u3 v1 ) + (u2 v3 − u3 v2 ) 2 2 2 Which concludes the proof (Sometimes proofs are not hard but some do require patience. u3 and v = v1 . v 2 . u 2 .r r Let u = u1 .) .

3. Proof: The area of a parallelogram is base times height. ||u|| y ||v|| θ sin θ = y/||u|| ||u||sin θ = y = height ||v|| y = ||v|| ||u||sin θ = ⋅ u× v . A = bh 4. r r r r r u × v = 0 if and only if u and v are multiples of each other r r u × v = area of the paralleogram having r r u and v as adjacent sides.

Solution The two given vectors define a plane.k. we simply divide by its magnitude: .j + 3k and b = -4i + 2j . To make its length equal to one. .Example problem for property 1 Find 2 unit vectors perpendicular to a= 2 i . The Cross Product of the vectors is perpendicular to the plane and is proportional to one of the desired unit vectors.

k.j + 3k and b = -4i + 2j .Find 2 unit vectors perpendicular to a= 2 i . Solution i j k 2 − 1 3 = (i − 12 j + 4k ) − (6i − 2 j + 4k ) = (−5i − 10 j ) − 4 2 −1 − 5i − 10 j = 25 + 100 = 125 = 5 5 Divide the vector by its magnitude 1 5 1 (− 5i − 10 j ) = 5− 55 i − 5105 j = −5 i − 5 2 − 5 2 5 j= i− j 5 5 5 For a second unit vector simply multiply the answer by -1 5 2 5 i+ j 5 5 .

Objective 3 find the area of a parallelogram given two vectors .

C(1.Example for property 4 4. A(4.14.6).2). B(4.1. r r u × v = area of the paralleogram having r r u and v as adjacent sides.11.6). D(1.2) B C x D y .4. z Area of a Parallelogram via the Cross Product Show that the following 4 points define a parallelogram and then find the A area.

6 − 6 = 0.Solution: First we find the vectors of two adjacent sides: AB = 4 − 4. Thus the figure is of a parallelogram. Continued .2 − 2 = 0. 4 − 1.4 Now find the vectors associated with the opposite sides: DC = 1 − 1.0 AD = 4 − 1. 4 − 14. − 3. hence parallel.−4 = − AD This shows that opposite sides are associated with the same vector.6 − 2 = 3. 3. − 10.2 − 6 = − 3.11 − 14.1 − 11. − 10.0 = AB DB = 1 − 4.

( )( ) .The area is equal to the magnitude of the cross product of vectors representing two adjacent sides: Area = |AB XAD| i 3 j 3 k 4 0 − 10 0 = − 40 i + 0 j + 0k − 0 i + 0 j − 30k = −40 i + 0 j + 30k − 40 i + 30k (−40) 2 + 30 2 = 1600 + 900 = 2500 = 50 The area of the parallelogram is 50 square units.

z P R Q x .2) Area parallelogram) = |PQ x PR|. Find the area of the triangle whose vertices are P(4.16.4.Area of a Triangle via the Cross Product Since the area of a triangle is based on the area of a parallelogram. The area of the triangle is half of this.-2) R(1.6). it follows that the area would be ½ of the cross product of vectors of two adjacent sides. Q(5.1.

-2) R(1.16 − 4.4 − 1.−2 − 6 = 1.Area of a Triangle via the Cross Product Continued P(4.−4 Q x RP = 4 − 1.6 − 2 = 3.−4 .15.−3.3. Q(5.4.1.6).12.1 − 4.16.−8 PR = 1 − 4.2 − 6 = − 3.−2 − 2 = 4.2) Area parallelogram) = |PQ x PR| But what if we choose RP and RQ? Would the result be the same? z Let’s do both and see! P R PQ = 5 − 4.4 RQ = 5 − 1.16 − 1.

6 − 2 = 3. the magnitude would be the same also.16 − 4.2 − 6 = − 3.16 − 1.−2 − 2 = 4.−2 − 6 = 1.−4 − 8 = − 48 i + 24 j − 3k − 24 i − 4 j − 36k = −72 i + 28 j + 33k −3 −3 −4 ( )( ) 1 1 1 1 − 72 i + 28 j + 33k = (−72) 2 + 28 2 + 332 = 5184 + 784 + 1089 = 7075 2 2 2 2 i 3 j 3 k 4 = − 12 i + 16 j + 45k − 60 i − 12 j + 12k = −72 i + 28 j + 33k 4 15 − 4 ( )( ) Since this is the same vector.12. .3.4 − 1.15.−3.1 − 4.−4 i 1 j 12 k RP = 4 − 1.4 RQ = 5 − 1.−8 PR = 1 − 4.PQ = 5 − 4.

.z P R Q x The area of the triangle is ½ 7057 ≈ 42 square units.

and w = w1 i + w2 j + w3 k u1 u 2 u3 u ⋅ v × w = v1 v2 v3 w1 w2 w3 ( ) .The triple scalar product is defined as: u ⋅ v× w ( ) For u = u1 i + u 2 j + u3 k . v = v1 i + v2 j + v3 k .

Objective 4 how to find the volume of a parallelepiped given three vectors .

. A parallelepiped is a 6 sided figure whose sides are parallelograms. The volume of the parallelepiped can be found using the absolute value of the triple scalar product and 3 adjacent vectors.The triple scalar product is defined as: AB ·(AC x AD).

Why would the triple scalar product be the volume of the figure? .

Why would the triple scalar product be the volume of the figure? B Since the base is a parallelogram we could represent its area by the cross product ||AC x AD|| Recall that the area of a parallelepiped is the base times the height. The height would be equivalent to: C A D proj AC× AD AB .

.The triple scalar product is defined as: AB ·(AC x AD). base times the height B ||AC x AD|| proj AC× AD AB AC × AD proj AC× AD AB AC × AD AB ⋅ AC × AD AC × AD ( ) = AB ⋅ (AC × AD ) C A D The absolute value insures a positive answer for the volume.

The volume is given by the scalar triple product: AB · (AC X AD). 2.(-2)]k = -2i + 3j + 7k. and D(1.(-9)] + k[-42 . -2).189 | = 136 cubic units From:http://www. 2).4]i + [0 . 3.htm .18] .Volume of a Parallelepiped via the Scalar Triple Product: Find the volume of the parallelepiped with adjacent edges AB.4]i + [3 . 0. B(2.27k Now form the dot product to get the volume: Volume = |AB · (2i + 19j . and AD. 5).27k)| = | (-2i + 3j + 7k) · (2i + 19j . AC.(-2)]k = -7i + 5j + 3k AD = [1 .(-2)]k = -3i + 6j + 4k First. AC = [-3 .(-3)]j + [2 . find the cross product: = i[20 .net/calcjat/Solutions/ VCrossProduct/VCPVolParallelepiped.27k)| = | 4 + 57 .j[-28 .(-3)]j + [5 . 1).4]j + [2 .(-15)] = 2i + 19j .(-3)]j + [1 . where the points are A(4. C(-3. First we need the three vectors: AB = [2 . -3.jtaylor1142001.

||M|| will measure the tendency of the vector AB to rotate counterclockwise according to the right hand rule about an axis directed along the vector M. equal to the force multiplied by the perpendicular distance between the line of action of the force and the center of rotation at which it is exerted”. Torque is defined by Webster as “a twisting or wrenching effect or moment exerted by a force acting at a distance on a body.Finally. a real world application of the cross product. for all of you potential physicists. M A B F . If a vector force F is applied at point B of the vector AB where both vectors are in the same plane. then M is the moment of the force F about the point B.

Recall: force × length vector = force length sin θ where θ is the angle between them. a longer wrench produces greater torque for a given amount of force. Second.A great example of torque is tightening a bolt with a wrench. we can see that the angle θ which produces the largest torque would be when θ = 90o. Thus. . A few observations can be made: The farther away from the bolt that the force is applied the greater the magnitude of the torque.

What is the torque in foot-pounds at the bolt? What is the maximum torque that can be applied to this bolt? Solution: force × length vector = force length sin θ where θ is the angle between them. ⎛ Π ⎞ ⎛ 1 ⎞ 20 ⋅1sin ⎜ ⎟ = 20⎜ ⎟ = 10 foot − pounds ⎝ 6 ⎠ ⎝ 2 ⎠ The maximum torque is applied when θ = π 2 ⎛ Π ⎞ 20 ⋅1sin ⎜ ⎟ = 20(1) = 20 foot − pounds ⎝ 2 ⎠ .Example: Suppose you have a 12 inch wrench and you apply a 20 lb force at an angle of 30 degrees.

  . Julia Arnold at jarnold@tcc.For comments on this presentation you may email the author Dr.edu.

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