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Vectors and vector addition:

A scalar is a quantity like mass or temperature that only has a magnitude. On the other had, a
vector is a mathematical object that has magnitude and direction. A line of given length and
pointing along a given direction, such as an arrow, is the typical representation of a vector.
Typical notation to designate a vector is a boldfaced character, a character with and arrow on it,
or a character with a line under it (i.e.,
is normally denoted by

). The magnitude of a vector is its length and

or A.

Addition of two vectors is accomplished by laying the vectors head to tail in sequence to create a
triangle such as is shown in the figure.

The following rules apply in vector algebra.

where P and Q are vectors and a is a scalar.

Unit vectors:

A unit vector is a vector of unit length. A unit vector is sometimes denoted by replacing the
arrow on a vector with a "^" or just adding a "^" on a boldfaced character (i.e.,


Any vector can be made into a unit vector by dividing it by its length.

In mathematics, vector algebra may mean:

Linear algebra, specifically the basic algebraic operations of vector addition and scalar
multiplication; see vector space.

The algebraic operations in vector calculus, namely the specific additional structure of
vectors in 3-dimensional Euclidean space
of dot product and especially cross product. In
this sense, vector algebra is contrasted with geometric algebra, which provides an
alternative generalization to higher dimensions.

Original vector algebras of the nineteenth century like quaternions, tessarines,

or coquaternions, each of which has its own product. The vector
algebras biquaternions andhyperbolic quaternions enabled the revolution in physics
called special relativity by providing mathematical models.

A vector is a quantity that has both magnitude and direction. Displacement,velocity, acceleration,
and force are the vector quantities that we have discussed thus far in the Physics Classroom
Tutorial. In the first couple of units, all vectors that we discussed were simply directed up, down,
left or right. When there was afree-body diagram depicting the forces acting upon an object, each
individual force was directed in one dimension - either up or down or left or right. When an
object had an acceleration and we described its direction, it was directed in one dimension either up or down or left or right. Now in this unit, we begin to see examples of vectors that are
directed in two dimensions - upward and rightward, northward and westward, eastward and
southward, etc.

What is a Component?
In situations in which vectors are directed at angles to the customary coordinate axes, a
useful mathematical trick will be employed to transform the vector into two parts with
each part being directed along the coordinate axes. For example, a vector that is directed
northwest can be thought of as having two parts - a northward part and a westward part.
A vector that is directed upward and rightward can be thought of as having two parts - an
upward part and a rightward part.

Any vector directed in two dimensions can be thought of as having an influence in two
different directions. That is, it can be thought of as having two parts. Each part of a twodimensional vector is known as acomponent. The components of a vector depict the
influence of that vector in a given direction. The combined influence of the two
components is equivalent to the influence of the single two-dimensional vector. The
single two-dimensional vector could be replaced
by the two components.

In mathematics, a unit vector in a normed vector space is

a vector (often a spatial vector) whose length is 1 (the unit length). A unit vector is often denoted
by a lowercase letter with a "hat", like so: (pronounced "i-hat").
The normalized vector or versor
with u, i.e.,

of a non-zero vector u is the unit vector codirectional

where ||u|| is the norm (or length) of u. The term normalized vector is sometimes used as a
synonym for unit vector.
The elements of a basis are usually chosen to be unit vectors. Every vector in the space may
be written as a linear combination of unit vectors. The most commonly encountered bases
are Cartesian, polar, and spherical coordinates. Each uses different unit vectors according to
the symmetry of the coordinate system. Since these systems are encountered in so many
different contexts, it is not uncommon to encounter different naming conventions than those
used here.
By definition, in Euclidean space the dot product of two unit vectors is simply the cosine of
the angle between them. In three-dimensional Euclidean space, the cross product of two
orthogonal unit vectors is another unit vector, orthogonal to both of them.

In vector calculus, a vector field is an assignment of a vector to each point in a subset of space.
A vector field in the plane, for instance, can be visualized as a collection of arrows with a
given magnitude and direction each attached to a point in the plane. Vector fields are often used
to model, for example, the speed and direction of a moving fluid throughout space, or the
strength and direction of some force, such as the magnetic or gravitational force, as it changes
from point to point.

The elements of differential and integral calculus extend to vector fields in a natural way. When a
vector field represents force, the line integral of a vector field represents the work done by a
force moving along a path, and under this interpretation conservation of energy is exhibited as a
special case of the fundamental theorem of calculus. Vector fields can usefully be thought of as
representing the velocity of a moving flow in space, and this physical intuition leads to notions
such as the divergence (which represents the rate of change of volume of a flow) and curl (which
represents the rotation of a flow).
In coordinates, a vector field on a domain in n-dimensional Euclidean space can be represented
as a vector-valued function that associates an n-tuple of real numbers to each point of the
domain. This representation of a vector field depends on the coordinate system, and there is a
well-defined transformation law in passing from one coordinate system to the other. Vector fields
are often discussed on open subsets of Euclidean space, but also make sense on other subsets
such as surfaces, where they associate an arrow tangent to the surface at each point (a tangent

More generally, vector fields are defined on differentiable manifolds, which are spaces that look
like Euclidean space on small scales, but may have more complicated structure on larger scales.
In this setting, a vector field gives a tangent vector at each point of the manifold (that is,
a section of the tangent bundle to the manifold). Vector fields are one kind of tensor field.

A vector field for the movement of air on Earth will associate for every point on the
surface of the Earth a vector with the wind speed and direction for that point. This can be
drawn using arrows to represent the wind; the length (magnitude) of the arrow will be an
indication of the wind speed. A "high" on the usual barometric pressure map would then act
as a source (arrows pointing away), and a "low" would be a sink (arrows pointing towards),
since air tends to move from high pressure areas to low pressure areas.

Velocity field of a moving fluid. In this case, a velocity vector is associated to each point
in the fluid.

Streamlines, Streaklines and Pathlines are 3 types of lines that can be made from vector
fields. They are :
streaklines as revealed in wind tunnels using smoke.
streamlines (or fieldlines) as a line depicting the instantaneous field at a given time.
pathlines showing the path that a given particle (of zero mass) would follow.
Magnetic fields. The fieldlines can be revealed using small iron filings.
Maxwell's equations allow us to use a given set of initial conditions to deduce, for every
point in Euclidean space, a magnitude and direction for the force experienced by a
charged test particle at that point; the resulting vector field is the electromagnetic field.
A gravitational field generated by any massive object is also a vector field. For example,
the gravitational field vectors for a spherically symmetric body would all point towards
the sphere's center with the magnitude of the vectors reducing as radial distance from the
body increases.