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AnIntroductiontoGeometricAlgebraoverR^2
GeometricAlgebraisfascinating,andIbelievesolvesalargenumberofproblemsthatarisefromamore
traditionalapproachtovectors,butI'vebeenverydisappointedwiththequalityofbooksandexplanations
I'vefound,mostofthemzoomingoffintoabstractrealmstooquickly,orspendinganinordinateamountof
timebuildingupageneralizedtheorybeforefinallygettingtosomethinguseful.

BelowisanexplanationofGeometricAlgebrathatwillstartwithasimpletwodimensionalvectorspace,i.e.
2.Thiswillbeaconciseintroductionto2,theGeometricAlgebraover2,andthenquicklypivotto
applicationsin2.ThisintroductionwillnotcoverthefascinatinghistoryofGA,CliffordAlgebras,or
HermannGrassman.

I'llpresumeafamialaritywithLinearAlgebra,andthenwe'llintroducethegeometricproductonthatand
we'llhavetheGeometricAlegebraovertwodimensions:2.

LinearAlgebra

Linearalgebraisthebranchofmathematicsconcerningvectorspacesandlinearmappings
betweensuchspaces.Itincludesthestudyoflines,planes,andsubspaces,butisalsoconcerned
withpropertiescommontoallvectorspaces.Wikipedia

YoushouldbefamiliarwiththefollowingaxiomsanddefinitionsfromLinearAlgebra:

Associative (1)
Commutative (2)
Identity (3)
Inverse (4)
ScalarDistributive (5)
MultiplicativeIdentity (6)
Dot/InnerProduct (7)

Dot/InnerProduct(Alternate) (8)

Inparticular,for2wehaveanorthonormalbasis:

where:

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Weknowhowtodovectoradditionandscalarmultiplicationofvectors,andthatanyvectorcanbe
representedasalinearcombinationofbasiselements.

Thingstorememberaboutthedotproduct,orinnerproduct,isthatitis0fororthogonalvectors:

Andthatavectordotwithitselfgivesthesquareofthenormofthevector,since :

OneimportantthingtonoticeaboutLinearAlgebraishowoftenyouhavetostepoutsideof2togetwork
done.Thatis,operationsfrequentlyhavetotakeplaceoutside2orthoseoperationsgiveyouresultsoutside
of2.Forexample,thedotproductoftwovectorreturnsascalar,whichisnotamemberof2.

Similarly,torotatevectorsyouhavetocreatematrices,whichdon'texistin2,andapplythemtovectors
throughmatrixmultiplication.

Onefinalexampleisthecrossproduct,whichtakestwovectorsandoperatesonthemtoproduceavector
thatisorthogonaltotheoriginaltwovectors,butifyouarein2itdoesn'texist,youhavetothenviewthat

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crossproductvectorasexistingin3,whichtheoriginal2isembeddedin.

Allofthisstandsinstarkcontrastto2,wheretheseoperationstakeplacein2,infact,manyofthe
constructsweuseinLinearAlgebra,suchasrotations,existaselementsof2,andapplyingthoseoperations
isjustamatteroftakingthegeometricproductofthoseobjects.Notonlyis2closedundermanyofthese
operations,buttheoperationsexistaselementsin2.

GeometricAlgebra

TheGeometricAlgebraof2buildsupon2,extendingitbyaddingmultiplication,i.e.ageometric
product.Beforewegettothegeometricproductweneedtofirstquicklylearnabouttheexteriorproduct.

ExteriorProduct

Theexteriorproductoperatesontwovectorsandiswrittenas:

Theexteriorproductrepresentstheorientedareadefinedbythetwovectors,ormorepreciselyisrepresents
anorientedareaintheplanedefinedbythosevectors,alsoknownasabivector.Therearetwoimportant
aspectsofthis,thefirstisthattheexactshapedoesn'tmatter.Forexample,thebivectorsrepresentedbelow
areequalbecausetheyhavethesameorientation(counterclockwise)andthesamearea(3).

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Thesecondimportantfactoristhattheexteriorproductisanticommutative,thatis,ifyoureversetheorderof
thevectorsinvolvedthenthesignoftheexteriorproductchanges.

Usingtwoofthevectorsabove,notethattheorderthattheyareusedintheexteriorproductwillmakethe
bivectorseitherclockwiseorcounterclockwise.

Thepropertiesoftheexteriorproductare:

Associative (1)
ScalarAssociativity (2)
LeftDistributive (3)
RightDistributive (4)
Antisymmetric (5)
ZeroforParallelVectors. (6)

Inwhatisgoingtobecomearecurringtheme,let'slookatwhatthismeansintermsofbasisvectors.Since
anyvectorcanbewrittenasalinearcombinationofbasisvectorsweget:

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Ifwetaketheirexteriorproductweget:

Sotheexteriorproductofanytwovectorscanexpressedasjustascalarmulitpleofe1^e2

GeometricProduct

Nowthatweknowabouttheexteriorproduct,wecandefinethegeometricproduct,whichisjustthesumof
theinnerproductandtheexteriorproduct:

Usingjusttheabovedefinitionyoucanshowthatthegeometricproducthasthefollowingproperties:

Associative (1)
ScalarAssociativity (2)
LeftDistributive (3)
RightDistributive (4)
Norm (5)
NonCommutative,exceptinsomecases. (6)

VectorInverses (7)

Orthogonalvectormultiplication. (8)

Withthegeometricproductasdefinedabove,andvectoraddition,ourGeometricAlgebra2formsaunital
associativealgebrawithanorthonormalbasis:

Wecanworkoutamultiplicationtableforthebasiselements,withtheobservationthatiftwoelementsare
orthogonalthentheirdotproductiszero,sothatimpliesthatthegeometricproductreducestotheexterior
productbetweenorthogonalvectors,whichisantisymmetric.Sothatimpliesforeachofourbasisvectors:

Andthatimplies,bytheantisymmetryoftheexteriorproduct:

Andthegeometricproductofanybasiselementwithitself,becausetheyareparallelmeanstheexterior
productiszero,so:

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Notethatwe'llendupwritingalotofequationswithbasisvectorsmultipliedtogether,soit'susefultohavea
shorthand,i.e.e12willbeusedasashorthandfore1e2.

Wecannowcompleteamultiplicationtableforthegeometricproductofallthebasiselements:

Nowthatweknowwhatelementsof2looklikeandhowtomanipulatethem,it'snowtimetoputthemto
work.

ApplyingGeometricAlgebra

MultiplyingVectors

Let'sstartbymultiplyingtwovectors:

Underthegeometricproductweget:

Wecanseethatfromtheproductoftwovectorswegetascalarandabivector.

Whatifwetakeascalarandabivectorandmultiplyitbyavector?Notethatbelowweareusingacapital
letterforourscalarplusbivector.

Thatproductgivesusbackavector,soBisanelementof2thatoperatesonvectorsthroughthegeometric
producttogiveusanothervector.

Rotors

AspecialcaseofBiscalledaRotor.ThisRotorisanelementof2thatisjustarestatementofEuler's
formulain2.
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First,forreasonsthatwillbecomeclearerlater,wewillbegintoabbreviatee12asI.OurRotoristhen
definedas:

IfyoumultiplyanyvectorbythisRotorontherightitwillrotatethatvectordegreesinthedirectionfrom
e1toe2.IfyoumultiplythatsamevectorontheleftbythisRotoritwillberotateddegreesintheopposite
direction.

Forexample,hereisadynamicillustrationoftheRotorinaction,Inthiscase,wearemultiplyinge1byetI,
wheretistime,andistherate,inradianspersecond,thatthevectorundergoesrotation.Inthisexamplewe
set=1,sothevectorshouldcompleteafullcircleevery2seconds.

Start/Stop

Caveat:Rotorsonlyworklikethisin2,in3andabovetheformulationchanges,sobeawareofthat.

Usinggeometricalgebramakesiteasytoreadoffthisformulaanddeterminewhatisgoingtohappen,i.e.
thee1vectorisgoingtobeoperatedonviageometricproductandtheresultwillbeanothervectorthatis
rotatedtradiansinacounterclockwisedirection.

SinceourRotatorisamemberof2itcanbecombinedwithotheroperations.Forexample,wecouldstart
withavectorpataninitialpositionandthenperturbitbyaddingittoanothervectorthatismultipliedbyour
Rotor.Inthiscaseweset=2.

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Start/Stop

Wecantakethatonestepfurtherandrotatethewholethingaroundtheorigin,whereweset1=2.9and2
=1.

Start/Stop

Thatmightbeeasiertofollowifinsteadofdrawingthevectorwedrawthetrailofpointswherethevector
hasbeen.

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Start/Stop

DoubleAngleFormula

SomeofthepowerofGeometricAlgebracomesfrombeingabletogobackandforthbetweenlookingata
problemgeometricallyandlookingatitalgrebraically.Forexample,itiseasytoreasonthatrotatingavector
degreestwiceisthesameasrotatingthatsamevector2degrees.Wecanwritethatoutasanalgrebraic
expression:

Ifweexpandbothsidesoftheequationsaboveusingthedefinitionofeweget:

Comparingthecoefficientsonthelefthandsideoftheequationtothatontherighthandsidewefindwe
havederivedtheDoubleAngleFormulas:

Youcouldstartwiththesamegeometricreasoningaboutanytwoangles,and,andusethesame
derivationtogetthegeneralAnglesumidentities.Thepowerhereistheabilitytomovebackandforth
betweenalgebraicandgeometricreasoningquicklyandeasily.

ComplexNumbers

FromourdefinitionofourRotator,ifwesetto90degreesthensincesinbecomes0weareleftwithonlyI,
whichisa90degreeRotator.Butifweapplya90degreeRotatortwiceweshouldgeta180degreeRotator:

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And1isexactlywhatwewouldexpect,sincethat'swhatyoumultiplyavectorbytorotateit180degrees.
Butwhatwealsohaveisaquantityin2thatwhensquaredisequalto1.Thisshouldremindyouofiinthe
complexnumbers,butwithouttheneedtotakethesquarerootofanegativenumber,orinvokeanything
imaginary.Infactthesubsetofalllinearcombinationsof{1,I}isclosedunderthegeometricproductandis
isomorphicto.

FurtherReading
ThereareotherintroductionstoGAaroundtheweb,someoftheonesI'vefoundhelpfulare:

GeometricAlgebraPrimer
GeometricAlgebra:AnIntroductionwithApplicationsinEuclideanandConformalGeometry

20161221

200216JoeGregorio

Hostedon:WebFaction

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