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# Lecture XVII

Abstract We introduce the concepts of vector functions, scalar and vector elds and stress their relevance in applied sciences. We study curves in three-dimensional Euclidean space and introduce the concept of arc length, curvature and torsion for a given curve in R3 .

Vector functions, vector and scalar elds Denition 1 A vector-valued function is a map associating vectors to real numbers, that is r : R R3 such that r(t) = f (t)ex + g (t)ey + h(t)ez , where ex , ey , and ez are the unit vectors along the x, y , and z -axes, respectively. The domain of r is the intersection of the domains of the functions f , g and h. Notice that if the parameter t is interpreted as time, then we can think to r(t) as a function describing the trajectory of a particle of mass m in the three-dimensional Euclidean space. Indeed, we could obtain r(t) by solving Newton1 s equation d2 r m 2 = F, dt where F is the external force acting on the particle. Example 1 Find the domain of denition of the vector-valued function r(t) = t3 ex + ln (3 t)ey + tez . Notice that t3 is a polynomial and its domain of denition is the whole real line. ln (3 t) will be dened if 3 t > 0, that is for t < 3. t is dened if t 0. Hence, we conclude that the domain of denition of the given vector-valued function is 0 t < 3, that is the interval [0, 3).
Isaac Newton (1643-1727) was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist and theologian.
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In mathematics a vector eld is a construction in vector calculus which associates a vector to every point in a subset of the Euclidean space R3 , that is a map V : R3 R3 such that V(x, y, z ) = F (x, y, z )ex +G(x, y, z )ey +H (x, y, z )ez . Vector elds are often used in physics and engineering to model, for example, the speed and direction of a moving uid throughout space, or the strength and direction of some force, such as the magnetic, electric or gravitational force, as it changes from point to point. In mathematics, physics and engineering a scalar eld associates a scalar value to every point in a space, that is a map S : R3 R such that (x, y, z ) S (x, y, z ). Scalar elds are required to be coordinate-independent, meaning that any two observers using the same units will agree on the value of the scalar eld at the same point in space (or spacetime). Examples used in physics and engineering include the temperature distribution throughout space, the pressure distribution in a uid, the density of a uid or solid object, the electrostatic potential, etc. . Denition 2 We dene the limit of a vector-valued function r(t) as t goes to a R as lim r(t) = lim f (t) ex + lim g (t) ey + lim h(t) ez .
ta ta ta ta

If the above limit exists we say that r(t) is continuous at t = a. Example 2 Find the limit for t 1 of t1 tan t ey + ez . r(t) = t + 3 ex + 2 t 1 t According to the denition above we have to compute the corresponding limits for the components of the given vector-valued function. Thus, we nd that lim t + 3 = 4 = 2,
t1

t1 t1 1 1 = lim = lim = , 2 t1 t 1 t1 (t 1)(t + 1) t1 t + 1 2 tan t lim = tan(1) 1.557. t1 t Hence, we conclude that ey lim r(t) = 2ex + + tan (1) ez . t1 2 lim 2

In mathematics, a parametric equation is a relation dened by the use of parameters. A simple kinematical example is when we use a time parameter to determine the position, velocity, and other information about a body or particle in motion. In general, a parametric equation is expressed by means of a set of equations. For example, the simplest equation for a parabola y = x2 can be parametrized by using a free parameter t, and setting x = t, y = t2 .

Although the preceding example is a somewhat trivial case, consider for instance the following parametrization of a circle of radius R x = R cos t, y = R sin t,

where t is in the range 0 to 2 . Converting a set of parametric equations to a single equation involves eliminating the variable t from the simultaneous equations x = x(t) and y = y (t). If one of these equations can be solved for t, the expression obtained can be substituted into the other equation to obtain an equation involving x and y only. In the case of the example with the parametric equations of a circle we can square both x and y , add them together and end up with the well-known formula x2 + y 2 = R 2 . Notice that once we have a vector-valued function r(t) = f (t)ex + g (t)ey + h(t)ez describing the trajectory of a particle in R3 the curve on which this particle moves can also be described in parametric form by setting x = f (t), y = g (t), z = h(t).

Notice that at each time t the above equation will x a certain point of coordinates (x, y, z ) in space. Example 3 Consider the vector-valued function r(t) = cos t ex + sin t ey + tez .

We want to understand the form of the trajectory whose points are described by the above vector-valued function as the parameter t varies. If we denote by C such a trajectory, the parametric equations for the curve C are x = cos t, y = sin t, z = t.

Since x2 + y 2 = 1 whatever is the value of z we conclude that the points of the curve C must lay on the lateral surface of a cylinder of radius one. Furthermore, if we consider for instance dierent values of t, for instance we start by taking t = 0, t = /2, t = 3/2 and so on we discover that the trajectory of the particle is a helix. For a picture download the le helix.gif on the web page of the course. The plot has been generated with the command spacecurve in Maple and by taking t in the interval [6, 6 ]. Denition 3 Let r(t) be the vector-valued function r(t) = f (t)ex + g (t)ey + h(t)ez . We dene the derivative r (t) of r(t) as r(t + t) r(t) . t0 t If the above limit exists, then we have r (t) = lim r (t) = df dg dh ex + ey + ez . dt dt dt

Concerning the geometrical interpretation of r (t), if r(t) describes a curve C in R3 the derivative r (t) is the tangent vector to the curve C at the point P = (x(t), y (t), z (t)). In what follows we shall denote the unit tangent vector by r (t) . T(t) = |r (t)| From the physical point of view r (t) can be interpreted as the velocity of a particle having trajectory C described by the vector-valued function r(t). The interpretation of the second derivative of r(t) is that of an acceleration. If and denote the dot and cross product, respectively, we have the following dierentiation rules d (u v) = u v + u v , dt d (u v) = u v + u v , dt d [u(f (t))] = f (t)u (f (t)), (chain rule) dt 4

where u(t) and v(t) are two arbitrary vector-valued functions. Denition 4 Let r(t) = f (t)ex + g (t)ey + h(t)ez . be a continuous vector-valued function. We dene the integral of r(t) as follows
b b b b

dt r(t) =
a a

dt f (t) ex +
a

dt g (t) ey +
a

dt h(t) ez .

A curve in the plane can be approximated by connecting a nite number of points on the curve using line segments to create a polygonal path. Since it is straightforward to calculate the length of each linear segment (using the Pythagorean theorem in Euclidean space, for example), the total length of the approximation can be found by summing the lengths of each linear segment. If the curve is not already a polygonal path, better approximations to the curve can be obtained by following the shape of the curve increasingly more closely. The approach is to use an increasingly larger number of segments of smaller lengths. The lengths of the successive approximations do not decrease and will eventually keep increasingpossibly indenitely, but for smooth curves this will tend to a limit as the lengths of the segments get arbitrarily small. For some curves there is a smallest number L that is an upper bound on the length of any polygonal approximation. If such a number exists, then the curve is said to be rectiable and the curve is dened to have arc length L. Denition 5 Let C be a curve in R3 described by the vector-valued function r(t) = x(t)ex + y (t)ey + z (t)ez where t [a, b]. If C is described only once as t increases from a to b, then its length or arc length is given by the formula
b b

L=
a

dt |r (t)| =
a

dt

dx dt

dy dt

dz dt

Example 4 Find the length of the helix r(t) = cos t ex + sin t ey + t ez from the point (1, 0, 0) to (1, 0, 2 ). First of all, we have to nd the values of t corresponding to the two given points. For the rst point we obtain 1 ex + 0 ey + 0 ez = cos t ex + sin t ey + t ez . 5

The above vectorial equation gives rise to the following three equations cos t = 1, sin t = 0, t = 0.

which are clearly satised for t = 0. In an analogous way we nd that r(t) will identify the point (1, 0, 2 ) whenever t = 2 . Furthermore, r (t) = sin t ex + cos t ey + ez , |r (t)| = sin2 t + cos2 t + 1 = 2. Hence, the length will be given by
2 2

L=
0

dt |r (t)| =
0

dt

2 = 2 2.

It is often convenient to parametrize a curve with respect to arc length because arc length arises from the shape of a curve and does not depend on a particular coordinate system. Moreover, with this reparameterization we can tell where we are on the curve after we have travelled a distance s along the curve. Denition 6 Let C be a curve in R3 described by the vector-valued function r(t) = x(t)ex + y (t)ey + z (t)ez where t [a, b]. Further suppose that C is described only once as t increases from a to b. We dene the arc length function s of the curve C as
t t

s(t) =
a

d |r ( )| =
a

dx d

dy d

dz d

(1)

Notice that from the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus we also have ds = |r (t)|. dt Example 5 Reparameterize the helix r(t) = cos t ex + sin t ey + t ez

(2)

with respect to arc length from (1, 0, 0) in the direction of increasing t. We already know that the initial point is associated to t = 0. Computing the integral in (1) we obtain t t s s(t) = d |r ( )| = 2 d = 2t = t = . 2 0 0 We conclude that s s s r(s) = cos ex + sin ey + e z . 2 2 2 6

The curvature of a curve C can be thought as a measure of how quickly the curve changes direction at a given point. Recalling that the direction at a given point on a curve is given by the unit tangent vector T at that point it results that the curvature will be connected to the rate of change of T along C . This intuitive idea is made rigorous in the following denition. Denition 7 Let C be a curve in R3 described by a vector-valued function r(t). The curvature of C is = dT , ds T= r (t) . |r(t)|

Even though the above formula reects our heuristic idea of curvature of a curve it is not well suited for practical purposes. In fact, it results to be more convenient to derive a formula for the curvature involving only derivatives with respect to t. This can be achieved by observing that dT dT dt T dT = = dt = , ds ds dt ds |r | dt where we used (2) in the last step. Hence, we found an equivalent formula for the curvature given by |T | = . (3) |r | Example 6 Show that the curvature of a circle of radius R is = R1 . First of all, points lying on a circle of radius R can be described by a vector-valued function r(t) = R cos t ex + R sin t ey . In order to apply formula (3) we need to compute the following quantities r (t) = R sin t ex + R cos t ey , |r (t)| = T R2 sin2 t + R2 cos2 t = R, r (t) = = sin t ex + cos t ey , |r (t)|

## |T | = 1. Hence, we conclude that = |T | 1 = . |r | R 7

Finally, a very useful formula for the computation of curvature involving only r(t) and its rst and second derivatives is = |r (t) r (t)| . |r (t)|3 (4)

Example 7 Find the curvature of the curve described by r(t) = t ex + t2 ey + t3 ez . In order to apply (4) we have to compute r (t) = ex + 2t ey + 3t2 ez r (t) = 2 ey + 6t ez . On the other side e x ey ez r (t) r (t) = det 1 2t 3t2 = 6t2 ex 6t ey + 2 ez 0 2 6t and |r (t) r (t)| = 2 9t4 + 9t2 + 1. 2 9t4 + 9t2 + 1 =2 (t) = (1 + 4t2 + 9t4 )3/2 = |r (t)|3 = (1 + 4t2 + 9t4 )3/2 ,

## Thus, we conclude that 9t4 + 9t2 + 1 . (1 + 4t2 + 9t4 )3

Example 8 We want to rewrite the formula (4) for the special case of a plane curve y = y (x). Clearly, points on this curve have coordinates (x, y (x)) and are identied by a position vector r(x) = x ex + y (x) ey . Moreover, r (x) = ex + y (x) ey r (x) = y ey . On the other side ex e y e z r (x) r (x) = det 1 y 0 = y (x) ez 0 y 0 8 = |r (x)|3 = [1 + (y )2 ]3/2 ,

## and |r (x) r (x)| = |y |. Thus, we conclude that (x) = |y | . [1 + (y )2 ]3/2

The torsion of a curve measures how sharply it is twisting and if r(t) is a vector-valued function describing a curve in space the torsion of the curve can be computed with the formula = [r (t) r (t)] r (t) . |r (t) r (t)|2

It is not dicult to check that the torsion of a helix is constant. Practice problems 1. Find the domain of denition of the vector functions (a) r(t) = t2 ex + t 1 ey + 5 t ez ; t (b) r(t) = ln t ex + ey + et ez . t1 2. Find (a) the limit for t 0+ of r(t) = cos t ex + sin t ey + t ln t ez ; (b) the limit for t 0 of et 1 r(t) = ex + t 1+t1 3 ey + ez . t 1+t

3. The equation of a cone in R3 is given by z 2 = x2 + y 2 . Show that the curve with parametric equations x = t cos t, y = t sin t and z = t lies on that cone and use this fact to help sketch the curve. 4. Show that the curve with parametric equations x = t2 , y = 1 3t, and z = 1 + t3 passes through the points (1, 4, 0) and (9, 8, 28) but not through the point 4, 7, 6).

5. Find a vector valued-function representing the curve of intersection of the circular cylinder {(x, y, z ) R3 | x2 + y 2 = 1, z R} and the plane y + z = 2. 6. Find the derivative of the following vector-valued functions (a) r(t) = ex ey + e4t ez , (b) r(t) = et cos t ex + et sin t ey + ln |t| ez , (c) r(t) = a + t b + t2 c, (d) r(t) = ta (b + t c), where a, b, and c are arbitrary constant vectors in R3 7. Find the unit tangent vector T at the point with the given value of the parameter t (a) r(t) = t ex + (t t2 ) ey + arctan t ez , t = 1, . (b) r(t) = e2t cos t ex + e2t sin t ey + e2t ez , t = 2 8. Evaluate the integrals
4

(a)
1

dt
/4

t ex + tet ey +

ez , t2

(b)
0

## d [u(t) v(t)] and dt

10. If r(t) = 0, show that d r(t) r (t) |r(t)| = . dt |r(t)| 11. Reparametrize the curve with respect to arc length measured from the point where t = 0 in the direction of increasing t (a) r(t) = et sin t ex + et cos t ey , 10

(b) r(t) = (1 + 2t) ex + (3 + t) ey 5t ez , (c) r(t) = 3 sin t ex + 4t ey + 3 cos t ez . 12. Reparametrize the curve r(t) = t2 2 1 +1 ex + t2 2t ey +1

with respect to arc length measured from the point (1, 0) in the direction of increasing t. Express the reparametrization in its simplest form. What can you conclude about the curve? 13. Find the curvature of the curves described by the vector-valued functions (a) r(t) = t2 ex + (sin t t cos t) ey + (cos t + t sin t) ez , t > 0, (b) r(t) = t2 ex + 2t ey + ln t ez , t > 0, 14. Find the curvature of r(t) = 2t ex + et ey + et ez at the point (0, 1, 1). 15. Graph the curve with parametric equations x = t, y = 4t3/2 , z = t2

and nd the curvature at the point (1, 4, 1). 16. Find the curvature of y = x3 , y= x, y = sin x.

17. At what point does the curve have maximum curvature? What happens to the curvature as x ? y = ln x, y = ex .

18. Find an equation of a parabola that has curvature 4 at the origin. 19. Show that the circular helix r(t) = a cos t ex + a sin t ey + bt ez where a and b are positive constants, has constant curvature and constant torsion. 20. Find the curvature and torsion of the curve x = sinh t, y = cosh t, z = t at the point (0, 1, 0). 11

21. The DNA molecule has the shape of a double helix. The radius of each helix is about 10 angstroms (1 angstrom = 108 cm). Each helix rises about 34 angstroms during each complete turn, and there are about 2.9 108 complete turns. Estimate the length of each helix. 22. We consider the problem of designing a railroad track to make a smooth transition between sections of straight track. Existing track along the negative x-axis is to be joined smoothly to a track along the line y = 1 for x 1. Find a polynomial P = P (x) of degree 5 such that the function dened by if x 0, 0 P (x) if 0 < x < 1, F (x) = 1 if x 1, is continuous, has continuous slope and continuous curvature. 23. What force is required so that a particle of mass m has the position function r(t) = t3 ex + t2 ey + t3 ez ? 24. A force of magnitude 20 N acts directly upward from the xy -plane on an object of mass 4 Kg. The object starts at the origin with initial velocity v(0) = ex ey . Find its position function and its speed at time t. 25. A projectile is red with an initial speed of 500 m/s and angle of elevation 30o . Find the range of the projectile, the maximum height reached and the speed at impact. 26. The position function of a spaceship is r(t) = (3 + t) ex + (2 + ln t) ey + 7 t2 4 +1 ez

and the coordinates of a space station are (6, 4, 9). The captain wants the spaceship to coast into the space station. When should the engines be turned o? 27. A rocket burning its onboard fuel while moving through space has velocity v(t) and mass m(t) at time t. If the exhaust gases escape with velocity ve relative to the rocket, it can be deduced from Newtons Second Law of Motion that dv dm m = ve . dt dt 12

## (a) Show that v(t) = v(0) ln m(0) m(t) ve .

(b) For the rocket to accelerate in a straight line from rest to twice the speed of its own exhaust gases, what fraction of its initial mass would the rocket have to burn as fuel?

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