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6. TRIPLE PRODUCT AND PRODUCT OF FOUR VECTORS
Synopsis:
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For any vector a , ( a x i ) 2 + ( a xj) 2 + ( a xk ) 2 = 2 | a | 2 a . b xc or a x b . c is called the scalar product of three vectors and is written as [ a b c] . i) In scalar triple product dot and cross are interchangeable i.e., a . b xc = a x b .c ii) If any two vectors are parallel or equal in scalar triple product its value becomes zero. i.e., [ a b b ] = [ a a b ] = [ a c c] = 0 . iii) The value of scalar triple product remains unaltered unless the cyclic order is not changed. i.e., (a) [ a b c] = [ b c a ] = [c a b ] , (b) [ a c b ] = [ b a c] = [c b a ] = -[ a b c] iv) [ a + b b + c c + a ] = 2[ a b c] v) [ a x b b xc cxa ] = [ a b c] 2 For unit orthonormal vectors i, j, k i) [ i j k ] = [j k i ] = [ k i j] = 1 ii) [ j i k ] = [ i k j] = [ k j i ] = −1 Necessary and sufficient condition for the three non collinear and nonzero vectors a, b and c to be coplanar is [ a b c] = 0 . If [ a b c] ≠ 0 , then the three vectors are non–coplanar. Let a , b and c be any three vectors i) If [ a b c] > 0, then they form a right handed system. ii) If [ a b c] < 0, then they form a left handed system. If a , b , c represent coterminous edges of a prallelopiped then volume of the parallelopiped = | [ a b c] |. The volume of the parallelopiped with vertices A, B, C, D is DA DB DC cu.units.

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[

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10. If a , b , c are concurrent edges of a tetrahedron, then the volume of the tetrahedron is equal to 1 | [ a b c] | . 6 1 11. The volume of the tetrahedron with vertices A, B, C, D is | [DA DB DC] | . 6
a1 a 2 a3 b3 c3

12. If a = a 1i + a 2 j + a 3 k , b = b 1i + b 2 j + b 3 k and c = c 1i + c 2 j + c 3 k , then a.( b xc ) = [ a b c] = b 1 b 2 c1 c 2 13. If p, q , r are any three non–coplanar vectors and a = a 1p + a 2 q + a 3 r , b = b1p + b 2 q + b 3 r and
a1 a 2 a3 b 3 [ p q r] . c3

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c = c 1p + c 2 q + c 3 r , then [ a b c] = b1 b 2 c1 c 2 14. [λ a μ b γc] = λ μ γ[ a b c]

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Triple product and product of four vectors
15. i) If a , b , c are any three non–coplanar vectors, then the vectors a ' , b ' , c' defined by a ' =

b xc , [ a b c]

b' =

a xb cx a are called the reciprocal system to the vectors a , b , c . c' = [ a b c] [ a b c] 1 [ a b c]

ii) a.a ' = b.b ' = c.c ' = 1 iii) [ a ' b ' c' ] =

iv) a . b ' = b .c' = c. a ' = ... = 0 v) Any vector r can be expressed as
r = (r.a ' )a + (r.b ' )b + (r.c ' )c

16. i) The vector equation of the plane containing three non collinear points with position vectors a , b , c is r.( b xc + cx a + a x b ) = [ a b c]

ii) Equation of plane passing through a , b and parallel to c is r.( b xc + cxa ) = [ a b c] iii) Equation of plane passing through a and parallel to b and c is r.( b xc) = [ a b c] . iv) A unit vector perpendicular to the plane passing through a , b , c is v) Length of the perpendicular from the origin to the plane passing through a , b , c is
a . p b . p c. p 17. [ a b c][ p q r] = a . q b . q c. q a . r b . r c. r 18. The shortest distance between two

b xc + c x a + a x b | b xc + c x a + a x b |

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| [ a b c] | | b xc + c x a + a x b |

non–intersecting lines given by r = a + t b and r = c + s d is

| [a - c b d ] | | b xd |

19. Vector product of three vectors a , b and c is a x( b xc) or ( a x b )xc . 20. If a , b and c are three vectors, then

i) a x( b xc) = ( a .c) b - ( a . b )c ii) ( a x b )xc = ( a .c) b - ( b .c) a
21. i) If a x( b xc) ≠ ( a x b )xc i.e., vector product is not associative.

ii) a x( b xc) = ( a x b )xc then c and a are collinear. 22. For any three vectors a , b , c a x(b xc) + b x( cxa ) + cx( a x b ) = 0
23. Scalar product of four vectors is ( a x b ).(cx d ) and is equal to
24. Vector product of four vectors is ( a x b )x(cx d ) . 25. ( a x b )x(cx d ) = [ a b d ] c - [ a b c] d
= [a c d ]b - [b c d]a

a.c b.c . a.d b.d

26. Four points a , b , c, d are coplanar if any only if [ b c d ] + [c a d ] + [ a b d ] = [ a b c] .

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