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7. DIRECTION RATIOS AND DIRECTION COSINES

Synopsis :
1. If a directed line (ray) makes angle a, b, g with positive directions of the axes of x,y and z
respectively the cosa, cosa, cosg are called the direction cosines (d.c’s) of the line and these are
usually denoted by l,m,n.
2. A line in a space can be extended in two directions, it has two sets of direction cosines. If
( l , m, n ) is one set then other set is . Here ( −l , −m, −n )
i) l 2 + m2 + n2 = 1
ii) cos 2 α + cos 2 β + cos 2 γ = 1
iii) sin 2 α + sin 2 β + sin 2 γ = 2
3. Direction cosines of
i) x – axis are (1,0,0)
ii) y – axis are (0,1,0)
iii) z – axis are (0,0,1)
4. If (l, m, n) are direction cosines of a line OP where 'O' is the origin and OP = r then the
coordinates P are (lr, mr, nr).
5. If the coordinates of a point P are (x,y, z) and OP=r then the direction Cosines of OP are
(x/r, y/r/ z/r).
x1 − x2 y1 − y2 z1 − z2
6. If A = ( x1 , y1 , z1 ) and B = ( x2 , y2 , z2 ) then AB d.cs , , are
AB AB AB
7. If θ is the angle between the two lines whose d.cs are l1 , m1 , n1 and l2 , m2 , n2 then
i) cos θ = l1l2 + m1m2 + n1n2

sin θ = Σ [l1m2 − l2 m1 ]
2
ii)

iii) if the lines are perpendicular l1l2 + m1m2 + n1n2 = 0 then

l1 m1 n1
iv) If the lines are parallel then = = .
l2 m2 n2
l m n
8. If are the d.cs of the line AB and a,b,c are three numbers such that = = then are called
a b c
the direction ratios (d.rs) of the line AB.
9. If a,b,c are the d.rs of the line AB then the d.cs of the line AB are
a b c
, ,
a +b +c
2 2 2
a +b +c
2 2 2
a + b2 + c2
2

(or)
−a −b −c
, ,
a +b +c
2 2 2
a +b +c
2 2 2
a + b2 + c2
2

Direction Ratios and Direction Cosines

10. If A = ( x1 , y1 , z1 ) and B = ( x2 , y2 , z2 ) then the d.rs of AB are x1 − x2 , y1 − y2 , z1 − z2
11. If θ is the angle between the two lines whose d.rs are a1 , b1 , c1 and a2 , b2 , c2 then
a1a2 + b1b2 + c1c2
i) cos θ =
a12 + b12 + c12 a22 + b22 + c22

Σ ( a1b2 − a2b1 )
2

ii) sin θ =
a12 + b12 + c12 a22 + b22 + c22
iii) if the lines are perpendicular a1a2 + b1b2 + c1c2 = 0 then
a1 b1 c1
iv) if the lines are parallel then = = (or) ( a1 , b1 , c1 ) = k ( a2 , b2 , c2 ) where k is a
a2 b2 c2
constant. Where k ∈ R − {0}
12. If a1 , b1 , c1 and a2 , b2 , c2 are the d.rs of the lines AB and AC then the d.rs of the line
perpendicular to both AB and AC are b1c2 − b2 c1 , c1a2 − c2 a1 , a1b2 − a2b1 .
13. If l1 , m1 , n1 and l2 , m2 , n2 are the d.cs of the lines AB and AC then the d.rs of the bisectors
of the angles between AB and AC are l1 + l2 , m1 + m2 , n1 + n2 and l1 − l2 , m1 − m2 , n1 − n2
14. If θ is the angle between two lines whose d.cs are l1 , m1 , n1 and l2 , m2 , n2 then the d.cs of their
l1 + l2 m1 + m2 n1 + n2
angular bisectors are , ,
⎛θ ⎞ ⎛θ ⎞ ⎛θ ⎞
2 cos ⎜ ⎟ 2 cos ⎜ ⎟ 2 cos ⎜ ⎟
⎝2⎠ ⎝2⎠ ⎝2⎠
l1 − l2 m − m2 n −n
And , 1 , 1 2
⎛θ ⎞ ⎛θ ⎞ ⎛θ ⎞
2sin ⎜ ⎟ 2sin ⎜ ⎟ 2sin ⎜ ⎟
⎝2⎠ ⎝2⎠ ⎝2⎠
15. The projection of a point on a line is the foot of the perpendicular from that point to the line.
16. If A = ( x1 , y1 , z1 ) and B = ( x2 , y2 , z2 ) then the projection of AB on the line whose d.cs are l , m, n
is l ( x1 − x2 ) + m ( y1 − y2 ) + n ( z1 − z2 )

18. If A = ( x1 , y1 , z1 ) and B = ( x2 , y2 , z2 ) then

( y1 − y2 ) + ( z1 − z2 )
2 2
i) the projection of AB on the yoz plane is

( z1 − z2 ) + ( x1 − x2 )
2 2
ii) the projection of AB on the zox plane is

Direction Ratios and Direction Cosines

( x1 − x2 ) + ( y1 − y2 )
2 2
iii) the projection of AB on the xoy plane is

19. i) If the projections of a line of length ‘d’ on the coordinate axes are d1 , d 2 & d3
respectively, then d12 + d 22 + d32 = d 2
ii) If the projections of a line of length ‘d’ on the coordinate planes are d1 , d 2 & d3
respectively, then d12 + d 22 + d32 = 2d 2
20. The d.rs of two lines are given by the equations al + bm + cn = 0 and fmn + gnl + hlm = 0 . If the
f g h
two lines are perpendicular then + + = 0 . If the two lines are parallel then
a b c
af + bg + ch = 0
21. The d.rs of two lines are given by the equations al + bm + cn = 0 and ul 2 + vm 2 + wn 2 = 0 . If the
two lines are perpendicular then Σ ( a 2 ( v + w ) ) = 0 . If the two lines are parallel then
a2 b2 c2
+ + =0
u v w
22. The equation of the line joining the points ( x1 , y1 , z1 ) and ( x2 , y2 , z2 ) is
x − x1 y − y1 z − z1
= = = t where t is a parameter. Here any point on the line is
x2 − x1 y2 − y1 z2 − z1
⎡⎣ x1 + t ( x2 − x1 ) , y1 + t ( y2 − y1 ) , z1 + t ( z2 − z1 ) ⎤⎦

23. If a, b, c are the d.rs of the line passing through the point ( x1 , y1 , z1 ) then the equation of that
x − x1 y − y1 z − z1
line is = =
a b c
24. Lagrange’s identity: If l1, m1 , n1 , l2 , m2 , n2 are real numbers then ( l12 + m12 + n12 ) ( l22 + m22 + n22 )

2

= ( m1n2 − m2 n1 ) + ( n1l2 − n2l1 ) + ( l1m2 − l2 m1 )

2 2 2

⎛1⎞
25. Angle between any two diagonals of a cube is cos −1 ⎜ ⎟
⎝ 3⎠
26. Angle between diagonal of a cube and diagonal of a face of a cube is
27. If α , β , γ , δ
are angles made by a ray with four diagonals of a cube, then
4
cos 2 α + cos 2 β + cos 2 γ + cos 2 δ =
3
⎛ 1 ⎞
28. If a line makes equal angles with the coordinate axes, then the line make an angle cos −1 ⎜ ⎟
⎝ 3⎠
⎛ 2⎞
( )
or tan −1 2 or sin −1 ⎜⎜ ⎟⎟
⎝ 3⎠