Chapter Three

Vector Functions
3.1 Relations and Functions We begin with a review of the idea of a function. Suppose A and B are sets. The Cartesian product A × B of these sets is the collection of all ordered pairs (a ,b) such that a ∈ A and b ∈ B . A relation R is simply a subset of A × B . The domain of R is the set dom R = {a ∈ A:( a , b) ∈ R} . In case A = B and the domain of R is all of A, we call R a relation on A. A relation R ⊂ A × B such that (a ,b) ∈ R and (a , c) ∈ R only if b = c is called a function. In other words, if R is a function, and a ∈ dom R , there is exactly one ordered pair (a ,b) ∈ R . The second “coordinate” b is thus uniquely determined by a. It is usually denoted R (a ) . If R ⊂ A × B is a relation, the inverse of R is the relation R −1 ⊂ B × A defined by R −1 = {(b, a ):( a, b) ∈ R} . Example Let A be the set of all people who have ever lived and let S ⊂ A × A be the relation defined by S = {( a, b): b is the mother of a} . The S is a relation on A, and is, in fact, a function. The relation S −1 is not a function, and domS −1 ≠ A . The fact that f ⊂ A × B is a function with dom f = A is frequently indicated by writing f : A → B , and we say f is a function from A to B. Very often a function f is defined by specifying the domain, and giving a recipe for finding f(a). Thus we may define the function f from the interval [0,1] to the real numbers by f ( x) = x 2 . This says that f is the collection of all ordered pairs ( x , x 2 ) in which x ∈[01] . ,

Exercises

3.1

y ): y is the capital of x} . If f is a function. let b be the function b = {( x . we shall see that such functions provide just the right tool for describing curves in space.2 Vector Functions Our interest now will be focused on functions f : X → Y in which Y is a set of vectors. and c(Kentucky).2 . As the drama unfolds. Suppose f ⊂ X × Y and g ⊂ X × Y . is also a function. and let B be the set of real numbers. and let Y be the set of all U. where c is the function defined in Exercise 2. 3. vector-valued functions. Let X be set of all states of the U. Let’s begin with a simple example. c(Missouri). Define the relation c ⊂ X × Y by c = {(x . Suppose f ⊂ X × Y and g ⊂ X × Y . It should be reasonably clear that if we place the tail of 3. These are called vector functions. Y as in Exercise 2. municipalities. Find dom f. y ): y is the largest city in x} . what is f ( f −1 ( y )) ? Explain. With X . Initially. a)What is b(South Carolina)? b)What is b(California)? c)Let f = c ∩ b . Explain why c is a function. ( f ( x )) ? Explain. or sometimes. we shall be solely interested in the special case in which X is a “nice” set of real numbers. is it necessarily true that f ∩ g is a function? Prove your answer. Is W a function? Is W −1 a function? Explain. If f and g are both functions. 3. Suppose f : X → Y is a function and the inverse f a)What is f −1 −1 6. and find c(Nevada). −1 b)If y ∈ dom f . S. b): b is the weight (in pounds) of a} . Define the relation W ⊂ A × B by W = {( a.. is it necessarily true that f ∪ g is a function? Prove your answer.1. S. Let A be the set of all Georgia Tech students. 4. such as an interval. Let X be the entire real line and let the function f be defined by f (t ) = ti + t 2 j . 5. 2.

a representative of f (t ) ) at the origin. The real usefulness of vector descriptions is most evident when we consider curves in space. As t increases. The function f is called a vector description of the curve. The nose of g thus always lies on the circle of radius one centered at the origin. we see the circle described by cos ti + sin tj . the nose traces out the circle again. as t varies over the reals. let g (t ) = cos t i + sin t j for 0 ≤ t ≤ 4π . we have | g(t )| = 1. This time. Let’s draw another.. the nose traces out this curve. or more precisely. Now.3 . we run around this circle and the third component of our position increases linearly. what curve is followed by the nose of f(t)? Notice first that if we look down on this curve from someplace up the positive third axis (In other words. as t varies from 0 to 2π. k is pointing directly at us. Convince yourself now that this curve looks like this: This curve is called a helix. note that for all t. in fact. The picture was drawn by Maple. Let’s look at another example. the nose will lie on the curve y = x 2 . Here’s a computer drawn picture: 3. for all t ≥ 0 . In fact. It’s not difficult to see that. How about the curve described by the vector function g (t ) = cos t i + sin t j + sin(2 t ) k ? This one is just a bit more exciting. What is the curve described by this function? First. a right circular helix.). the nose moves around the circle once. Let f (t ) = cos ti + sin tj + t k . and as t varies on from 2π to 4π.f (t ) (actually.

we are in effect specifying the three coordinates of points on the curves as ordinary real valued functions defined on a subset of the reals. Sketch or otherwise describe the curve given by f (t ) = ti + t 3 k for −1 ≤ t ≤ 3 .(This time we put the axes where they are “supposed to be. 8 . y. Assuming the axes are labeled x.4 .”) Observe that in giving a vector description.] 3. the curve described by the vector function r(t ) = f (t ) i + g (t ) j + h( t ) k is equivalently described by the equations x = f (t ) y = g (t ) z = h(t ) These are called parametric equations of the curve (The variable t is called the parameter. and z.). the graph of which is the given curve. Sketch or otherwise describe the curve given by f (t ) = (2t − 3) i + ( 3t + 1) j . Exercises 7 . [Hint: Find an equation in x and y.

Let L be the line through the points (1.-2) and (2.-2) in the direction of the vector v = i − j + 2k . and y. a)Sketch or otherwise describe the curve given by the function r(t ) = a + tb .1.1. 11.4) and (3. Find a vector description of the line which passes through the point (1. and let M be the line through the points (2. 15.4) and (3.1. Find an equation in x g (t ) = 3 cos ti + 4 sin tj . Find a vector function for the straight line passing through the point (1. 18.6) and (-3. Find a vector equation for the graph of x 3 + y 3 = 1 .4.2. 2 2 13.1. Sketch or otherwise describe the curve given by c( t ) = cos ti + sin t j + 7 k . the graph of which is the curve 12.5. b)Find a vector equation for the graph of x = y 3 + 2 y 2 + y + 5. Describe the curve given by L (t ) = (3t + 1)i + (1 − t ) j + 2tk . 3.4.2.3 Limits and Continuity 3.5). 14. 10.5 .4). b)Find a vector function for the line segment joining the points (1.2.2) and is perpendicular to both L and M. 16. 17. Sketch or otherwise describe the curve given by c( t ) = cos(t 2 ) i + sin(t 2 ) j + 7 k .-2). b)Express r(t) in the form r(t ) = f (t ) i + g (t ) j + h( t ) k .5). a)Find a vector equation for the graph of y = x 3 + 2 x 2 + x + 5. where a = 2 i − j + 3k and b = i + 3 j − 5k .9 . a)Find a vector function for the straight line passing through the points (1.

Recall from grammar school what we mean when we say the limit at t 0 of a realvalued. or scalar.6 . 3(1+| a |) ε for 0 < | t − t 0 | < δ 2 . function f is L. 3 ε for 0 < | t − t 0 | < δ 3 . and L is a vector such that for every real number ε > 0. 3 Now let δ = min{δ 1 . t 0 is a real number. The definition for vector functions is essentially the same. and δ 4 so that | f ( t) − L|< | f ( t) − L|< | α (t ) − a| < | α (t ) − a| < ε for 0 < | t − t 0 | < δ 1 . Then | α (t ) f (t ) − aL| = | a ( f (t ) − L ) + L (α (t ) − a) + (α (t ) − a )( f (t ) − L )| ≤ | a( f (t ) − L )|+| L (α ( t ) − a )|+ |(α (t ) − a )||( f (t ) − L )| < |a| | L| ε ε ε ε ε ε + ε + < + + =ε 3(1+|a|) 3(1+| L|) 3 3 3 3 3 3. It is but a modest exercise to show that t → t0 lim(α (t ) f ( t )) = aL . This is traditionally written lim f (t ) = L . suppose f is a vector valued function. Choose δ 1 .δ 3 . δ 2 . Suppose α( t ) is a scalar function for which lim α (t ) = a . δ 3 . t → t0 To see this. there is a δ > 0 such that | f ( t ) − L | < ε whenever 0 < | t − t 0 | < δ and t is in the domain of f. and f is a vector function t → t0 for which lim f (t ) = L . t → t0 The vector L is called a limit of f at a. δ 4 } suppose t is such that 0 < | t − t 0 | < δ . Specifically. and 3(1+ | L |) ε for 0 < | t − t 0 | < δ 4 . Let ε > 0 be given.δ 2 . we use the “behold!” method.

y (t ). It is easy to see that if t→ t0 f (t ) = x ( t ) i + y (t ) j + z (t ) k . Exercises 3.Or. If f is continuous at each point of its domain. t → t0 t → t0 t → t0 lim( f (t ) ⋅ g(t )) = (lim f (t )) ⋅ (lim g(t )) . Then we say f is continuous at t 0 if it is true that lim f ( t ) = f ( t 0 ) . lim(α (t ) f ( t )) = aL . t → t0 t →t 0 t → t0 We are now ready to say what we mean by a vector function’s being continuous at a point of its domain. t → t0 t →t 0 t → t0 lim( f (t ) × g(t )) = (lim f (t )) × (lim g(t )) . and z(t ) is continuous at t 0 . t → t0 t → t0 t → t0 lim y (t ) = b. then we say simply that f is continuous. in other words. It is now easy to show that all the usual nice properties of limits are valid for vector functions: lim( f (t ) + g( t )) = lim f ( t ) + lim g(t ). then f is continuous at t 0 if and only if each of the everyday scalar functions x ( t ). Now suppose f (t ) = x ( t ) i + y (t ) j + z(t ) k and L = ai + bj + c k . This shows there is nothing particularly mysterious or exotic about continuity of vector functions. t → t0 which is what we set out to show. Suppose t 0 is in the domain of the vector function f. that lim f (t ) = L if and only if t → t0 Then we see lim x( t ) = a . and lim z( t ) = c.7 .

t Suppose r is a continuous function. Is the function h defined by h( t ) = f ( t ) × g( t ) continuous? Explain.8 . Is r a continuous function? Explain. 3. Explain. Let f and g be continuous at t = t 0 . Suppose m is a continuous real-valued function and f is a continuous vector-valued function.19. 23. Is the vector function h defined by h(t ) = m(t ) f (t ) also continuous? 21. Explain how you know that the length 22. 20. How about the function r(t ) = f (t ) ⋅ g( t ) ? 1 Let r(t ) = ti + t 2 j + k . Is it possible for a function f to have more than one limit at t = t 0 ? Prove your answer. function n(t ) =| r(t )| is continuous.

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