Vector, Cartesian and Parametric equations of a line in r3

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Vector, Cartesian and Parametric equations of a line in r3

© All Rights Reserved

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Symmetric Equations of

a Line in R3

In Section 8.1, we discussed vector and parametric equations of a line in R2. In

this section, we will continue our discussion, but, instead of R2, we will examine

lines in R3.

The derivation and form of the vector equation for a line in R3 is the same as in

R2. If we wish to find a vector equation for a line in R3, it is necessary that either

two points or a point and a direction vector be given. If we are given two points

and wish to determine a direction vector for the corresponding line, the

coordinates of this vector must first be calculated.

EXAMPLE 1

A line passes through the points A11, 3, 5 2 and B13, 3, 42. Calculate

possible direction vectors for this line.

Solution

!

A possible direction vector is m 11 13 2 , 3 3, 5 14 22 12, 0, 9 2.

In general, any vector of the form t12, 0, 9 2, tR, t 0, can be used as a

direction vector for this line. As before, the best choice for a direction vector is

one in which the direction numbers are integers, with common divisors removed.

This implies that either 12, 0, 92 or 12, 0, 9 2 are the best choices for a

!

direction vector for this line. Generally speaking, if a line has m 1a, b, c2

as its direction vector, then any scalar multiple of this vector of the form

t1a, b, c2, tR, t 0, can be used as a direction vector.

Vector and Parametric Equations of Lines in R3

Consider the following diagram.

z

P(x, y, z)

r

r0

When determining the vector equation of the line passing through P0 and P, we

!

know that the point P0 1x0, y0, z0 2 is a given point on the line, and m 1a, b, c2

NEL

CHAPTER 8

445

is its! direction vector. If P1x, y, z 2 represents a general point on the line, then

P0P 1x x0, y y0, z z0 2 is a direction vector for this line. This allows us

to form the vector equation of the line.

!

!

!

In ^ OP0P, OP OP0 P0P .

!

!

!

!

!

!

!

Since OP0 r0 and P0P tm , the vector equation of the line is r r0 tm , tR.

In component form, this can be written as 1x, y, z2 1x0, y0, z0 2 t1a, b, c2, tR.

The parametric equations of the line are found by equating the respective x, y, and z

components, giving x x0 ta, y y0 tb, z z0 tc, tR.

Vector and Parametric Equations of a Line in R3

!

!

!

Vector Equation: r r0 tm , tR

Parametric Equations: x x0 ta, y y0 tb, z z0 tc, tR

!

where r0 1x0, y0, z0 2, the vector from the origin to a point on the line and

!

m 1a, b, c2 is a direction vector of the line

EXAMPLE 2

Determine the vector and parametric equations of the line passing through

P12, 3, 52 and Q12, 4, 12.

Solution

!

A direction vector is m 12 12 2, 3 4, 5 11 2 2 10, 1, 6 2. A vector

!

equation is r 12, 3, 52 s10, 1, 6 2, sR, and its parametric equations are

x 2, y 3 s, z 5 6s, sR. It would also have been correct to choose

any multiple of 10, 1, 6 2 as a direction vector and any point on the line. For

!

example, the vector equation r 12, 4, 12 t10, 2, 12 2 , tR, would also

have been correct.

Since a vector equation of a line can be written in many ways, it is useful to be

able to tell if different forms are actually equivalent. In the following example, an

algebraic approach to this problem is considered.

EXAMPLE 3

a. Show that the following are vector equations for the same line:

!

L1 : r 11, 0, 42 s 11, 2, 5 2, sR, and

!

L2 : r 14, 10, 21 2 m 12, 4, 102, mR

b. Show that the following are vector equations for different lines:

!

L3 : r 11, 6, 12 l11, 1, 22, lR, and

1 1

!

L4 : r 13, 10, 122 k a , , 1 b , kR

2 2

446 8 . 3

V E C TO R , PA R A M E T R I C , A N D S Y M M E T R I C E Q UAT I O N S O F A L I N E I N R3

NEL

Solution

a. Since the direction vectors are parallelthat is, 211, 2, 5 2 12, 4, 10 2

this means that the two lines are parallel. To show that the equations are

equivalent, we must show that a point on one of the lines is also on the other

line. This is based on the logic that, if the lines are parallel and they share a

common point, then the two equations must represent the same line. To check

whether 14, 10, 21 2 is also on L1 substitute into its vector equation.

14, 10, 212 11, 0, 4 2 s11, 2, 5 2

Using the x component, we find 4 1 s, or s 5. Substituting s 5

into the above equation, 11, 0, 4 2 511, 2, 5 2 14, 10, 212. This

verifies that the point 14, 10, 21 2 is also on L1.

Since the lines have the same direction, and a point on one line is also on the

second line, the two given equations represent the same line.

b. The first check is to compare the direction vectors of the two lines. Since

2Q2, 2, 1R 11, 1, 22, the lines must be parallel. As in part a,

1

13, 10, 122 must be a point on L3 for the equations to be equivalent. Therefore,

13, 10, 122 11, 6, 12 l11, 1, 22 must give a consistent value of l for

each component. If we solve, this gives an inconsistent result since l 4 for

11

verifies that the two equations are not equations for the same line.

Symmetric Equations of Lines in R3

We introduce a new form for a line in R3, called its symmetric equation. The

symmetric equation of a line is derived from using its parametric equations and

solving for the parameter in each component, as shown below

x x0

,a 0

x x0 ta 4 t

a

y y0

,b 0

y y0 tb 4 t

b

z z0

z z0 tc 4 t

,c 0

c

xx

yy

zz

Combining these statements gives a 0 b 0 c 0, a, b, c 0.

These equations are called the symmetric equations of a line in R3.

Symmetric Equations of a Line in R3

x x0

y y0

z z0

, a 0, b 0, c 0

a

c

b

where 1x0, y0, z0 2 is the vector from the origin to a point on the line, and 1a, b, c2

is a direction vector of the line.

NEL

CHAPTER 8

447

EXAMPLE 4

a. Write the symmetric equations of the line passing through the points

A11, 5, 72 and B13, 4, 82 .

b. Write the symmetric equations of the line passing through the points

P12, 3, 1 2 and Q14, 3, 5 2 .

c. Write the symmetric equations of the line passing through the points

X11, 2, 52 and Y11, 3, 9 2 .

Solution

!

a. A direction vector for this line is m 11 3, 5 142, 7 82 14, 9, 12.

Using the point A11, 5, 7 2, the parametric equations of the line are

x 1 4t, y 5 9t, and z 7 t, tR. Solving each equation for t

x1

y5

z7

necessary to find the parametric equations before finding the symmetric

equations. The symmetric equations of a line can be written by inspection if

the direction vector and a point on the line are known. Using point B and the

direction vector found above, the symmetric equations of this line by inspection

y

3

8

are x 4

9 4 z 1

.

!

b. A direction vector for the line is m 12 4, 3 3, 1 15 22 16, 0, 6 2.

The vector 11, 0, 12 will be used as the direction vector. In a situation like this,

where the y direction number is 0, using point P the equation is written as

x2

z1

1 , y 3.

1

!

c. A direction vector for the line is m 11 112 , 2 3, 5 9 2 10, 1, 42.

y2

z5

IN SUMMARY

Key Idea

!

!

In R3, if r0 1x0, y0, z0 2 is determined by a point on a line and m 1a, b, c2

is a direction vector of the same line, then

!

!

!

the vector equation of the line is r r 0 tm , tR or equivalently

1x, y, z2 1x0, y0, z0 2 t 1a, b, c2

the parametric form of the equation of the line is x x0 ta, y y0 tb,

and z z0 tc, tR

the symmetric form of the equation of the line is

x x0

y b y0 z c z0 1t2, a 0, b 0, c 0

a

Need to Know

Knowing one of these forms of the equation of a line enables you to find the

other two, since all three forms depend on the same information about the line.

448 8 . 3

V E C TO R , PA R A M E T R I C , A N D S Y M M E T R I C E Q UAT I O N S O F A L I N E I N R3

NEL

Exercise 8.3

PART A

1. State the coordinates of a point on each of the given lines.

!

a. r 13, 1, 8 2 s11, 1, 9 2, sR

y1

x1

z3

2

1

1

c. x 2 3t, y 1 14t2, z 3 t, tR

x2

z1

, y 3

d.

1

2

e. x 3, y 2, z 1 2k, kR

b.

f.

x3

1

2

y4

1

4

z5

1

2

2. State a direction vector for each line in question 1, making certain that the

components for each are integers.

PART B

3. A line passes through the points A11, 2, 4 2 and B13, 3, 5 2.

a. Write two vector equations for this line.

b. Write the two sets of parametric equations associated with the vector

equations you wrote in part a.

a. Write a vector equation for the line containing these points.

in part a.

c. Explain why there are no symmetric equations for this line.

K

5. State where possible vector, parametric, and symmetric equations for each of

the following lines.

a. the line passing through the point P11, 2, 1 2 with direction vector

13, 2, 1 2

b. the line passing through the points A11, 1, 0 2 and B11, 2, 1 2

c. the line passing through the point B12, 3, 0 2 and parallel to the line passing

through the points M12, 2, 1 2 and N12, 4, 7 2

d. the line passing through the points D11, 0, 0 2 and E11, 1, 02

e. the line passing through the points X14, 3, 0 2 and O10, 0, 0 2

f. the line passing through the point Q11, 2, 4 2 and parallel to the z-axis

NEL

CHAPTER 8

449

x6

10

7

x7

y 11

y

z

and 1 1 , z 5

1

1

1

C

7. Show that the following two sets of symmetric equations represent the same

straight line:

y1

z5

x7

1

1

3

2 2 and x 4

y 1

z

8

1

8. a. Show that the points A16, 2, 15 2 and B115, 5, 272 lie on the line that

passes through (0, 0, 3) and has the direction vector 13, 1, 62.

b. Use parametric equations with suitable restrictions on the parameter to

describe the line segment from A to B.

A

9. Determine the value of k for which the direction vectors of the lines

x1

y2

z1

x3

z

2 k 1 and 2 1, y 1 are perpendicular.

k

a. 1x, y, z2 14, 2, 5 2 t14, 6, 8 2

b. x 4 5s, y 2 s, z 9 6s

y2

x1

z

3

1

4

y2

z3

d. x 4,

3

5

c.

11. Express each equation in question 10 in two other equivalent forms. (i.e. vector,

parametric or symmetric form)

PART C

12. Determine the parametric equations of the line whose direction vector is

x

and

T

y 10

z2

3

7

x5

y5

z5

2 4 and passes through the point 12, 5, 02 .

3

intersects a sphere with the equation x 2 y 2 z 2 9 at the points A and B.

Determine the coordinates of these points.

14. You are given the two lines L1 : x 4 2t, y 4 t, z 3 t, tR, and

L2 : x 2 3s, y 7 2s, z 2 3s, sR. If the point P1 lies on

L1 and !the point P2 lies on L2, determine the coordinates of these two points

!

if P1P2 is perpendicular to each of the two lines. (Hint: The vector P1P2 is

perpendicular to the direction vector of each of the two lines.)

15. Determine the angle formed by the intersection of the lines defined by

x1

3

2

1

y

, z 3 and x

y

1z .

2

1

3

2

450 8 . 3

V E C TO R , PA R A M E T R I C , A N D S Y M M E T R I C E Q UAT I O N S O F A L I N E I N R3

NEL

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