Components of a Vector

Vectors are geometric representations of magnitude and also direction and also can be expressed together arrows in two or three dimensions.

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Key Takeaways

Key PointsVectors have the right to be broken down right into two components: magnitude and direction.By acquisition the vector to it is in analyzed together the hypotenuse, the horizontal and vertical materials can be found by completing a best triangle. The bottom leaf of the triangle is the horizontal component and also the next opposite the edge is the upright component.The angle the the vector provides with the horizontal deserve to be offered to calculate the size of the 2 components.Key Termscoordinates: numbers indicating a position with respect to part axis. Ex: extx and exty coordinates indicate position relative come extx and also exty axes.axis: An imagine line approximately which things spins or is symmetrically arranged.magnitude: A number assigned to a vector indicating its length.


Vectors room geometric depictions of magnitude and also direction i beg your pardon are regularly represented by directly arrows, starting at one point on a name: coordinates axis and ending in ~ a various point. Every vectors have actually a length, referred to as the magnitude, which to represent some high quality of interest so that the vector may be contrasted to an additional vector. Vectors, being arrows, additionally have a direction. This differentiates them indigenous scalars, which are mere numbers without a direction.

A vector is identified by the magnitude and its orientation through respect to a set of coordinates. That is often beneficial in examining vectors to break them into their component parts. For two-dimensional vectors, these components are horizontal and vertical. For 3 dimensional vectors, the magnitude component is the same, yet the direction component is to express in regards to extx, exty and also extz.

Decomposing a Vector

To visualize the process of decomposing a vector into its components, start by illustration the vector native the beginning of a set of coordinates. Next, draw a straight line indigenous the origin along the x-axis until the heat is even with the guideline of the original vector. This is the horizontal ingredient of the vector. To uncover the upright component, draw a line right up native the finish of the horizontal vector until you with the reminder of the initial vector. Girlfriend should uncover you have actually a ideal triangle such the the initial vector is the hypotenuse.

Decomposing a vector right into horizontal and vertical materials is a an extremely useful an approach in understanding physics problems. Whenever friend see motion at an angle, you need to think of it as relocating horizontally and also vertically in ~ the exact same time. Simple vectors in this means can rate calculations and assist to store track of the activity of objects.

Components the a Vector: The initial vector, defined relative come a collection of axes. The horizontal ingredient stretches indigenous the begin of the vector to its farthest x-coordinate. The upright component follow me from the x-axis to the many vertical allude on the vector. Together, the two components and also the vector type a ideal triangle.


A Vector: an instance of a vector. Vectors room usually represented by arrows through their size representing the magnitude and also their direction stood for by the direction the arrowhead points.

Vectors call for both a magnitude and also a direction. The size of a vector is a number because that comparing one vector come another. In the geometric translate of a vector the vector is stood for by one arrow. The arrow has two components that define it. The two parts are its size which represents the magnitude and its direction v respect come some set of coordinate axes. The higher the magnitude, the much longer the arrow. Physical principles such as displacement, velocity, and acceleration room all examples of quantities that deserve to be stood for by vectors. Each of this quantities has both a magnitude (how much or just how fast) and a direction. In order come specify a direction, there need to be something to which the direction is relative. Commonly this reference point is a collection of name: coordinates axes favor the x-y plane.

Scalars differ from vectors in that they perform not have actually a direction. Scalars space used generally to stand for physical amounts for i m sorry a direction does not make sense. Some examples of these are: mass, height, length, volume, and also area. Talking around the direction of these quantities has no meaning and so they cannot be expressed together vectors.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsTo include vectors, lay the very first one on a collection of axes through its tail in ~ the origin. Place the following vector v its tail in ~ the vault vector’s head. When there are no much more vectors, attract a directly line native the beginning to the head of the critical vector. This heat is the sum of the vectors.To subtract vectors, continue as if adding the two vectors, however flip the vector to be subtracted throughout the axes and then join it tail to head as if adding.Adding or individually any number of vectors yields a result vector.Key Termsorigin: The center of a coordinate axis, identified as being the name: coordinates 0 in all axes.Coordinate axes: A collection of perpendicular lines i m sorry define collaborates relative come an origin. Example: x and also y coordinate axes define horizontal and vertical position.

Adding and Subtracting Vectors

One that the methods in i beg your pardon representing physical amounts as vectors makes evaluation easier is the ease through which vectors may be included to one another. Due to the fact that vectors room graphical visualizations, addition and individually of vectors deserve to be done graphically.

The graphical method of vector enhancement is additionally known as the head-to-tail method. Come start, draw a set of coordinate axes. Next, attract out the very first vector through its tail (base) in ~ the origin of the name: coordinates axes. Because that vector enhancement it go not matter which vector friend draw an initial since addition is commutative, yet for subtraction ensure the the vector friend draw very first is the one you are subtracting from. The next step is to take the next vector and also draw that such that its tail starts in ~ the vault vector’s head (the arrowhead side). Proceed to ar each vector in ~ the head of the coming before one till all the vectors you great to add are joined together. Finally, attract a straight line indigenous the beginning to the head of the final vector in the chain. This new line is the vector result of adding those vectors together.

Graphical enhancement of Vectors: The head-to-tail method of vector addition requires that you lay out the first vector follow me a collection of coordinate axes. Next, place the tail that the next vector on the head the the an initial one. Attract a new vector indigenous the origin to the head of the critical vector. This new vector is the sum of the original two.

Vector through Horizontal and also Vertical Components: The vector in this image has a size of 10.3 units and a direction of 29.1 degrees above the x-axis. It deserve to be decomposed right into a horizontal part and a vertical part as shown.

For example, a vector with a length of 5 in ~ a 36.9 degree angle to the horizontal axis will have a horizontal component of 4 units and also a vertical component of 3 units. If us were to include this to an additional vector the the same magnitude and also direction, we would get a vector twice as long at the same angle. This deserve to be watched by including the horizontal materials of the two vectors (4+4) and also the 2 vertical contents (3+3). These additions give a new vector with a horizontal component of 8 (4+4) and a vertical component of 6 (3+3). To uncover the result vector, simply ar the tail that the vertical component in ~ the head (arrow side) of the horizontal component and then attract a line from the beginning to the head of the vertical component. This new line is the result vector. It need to be twice as long as the original, due to the fact that both of its components are double as large as they were previously.

To subtract vectors by components, just subtract the two horizontal contents from each other and do the exact same for the upright components. Then attract the resultant vector as you did in the previous part.

Key Takeaways

Key PointsA vector is a amount with both magnitude and direction.A scalar is a quantity with just magnitude.Multiplying a vector by a scalar is indistinguishable to multiplying the vector’s magnitude by the scalar. The vector lengthens or shrinks yet does not change direction.Key Termsvector: A directed quantity, one through both magnitude and also direction; the in between two points.magnitude: A number assigned come a vector describe its length.scalar: A amount that has magnitude but not direction; compare vector.


Although vectors and also scalars stand for different varieties of physics quantities, the is sometimes vital for them to interact. While including a scalar to a vector is impossible since of their various dimensions in space, it is possible to multiply a vector through a scalar. A scalar, however, can not be multiplied by a vector.

To main point a vector through a scalar, just multiply the similar components, the is, the vector’s magnitude by the scalar’s magnitude. This will an outcome in a new vector through the same direction however the product the the two magnitudes.


For example, if you have actually a vector A v a particular magnitude and direction, multiply it through a scalar a v magnitude 0.5 will provide a brand-new vector with a size of half the original. An in similar way if you take the number 3 which is a pure and unit-less scalar and multiply it to a vector, you get a version of the initial vector i m sorry is 3 times together long. As a more physical example take the gravitational force on one object. The pressure is a vector with its magnitude relying on the scalar well-known as mass and also its direction being down. If the massive of the thing is doubled, the force of heaviness is doubled as well.

Multiplying vectors by scalars is an extremely useful in physics. Most of the units offered in vector amounts are intrinsically scalars multiplied by the vector. Because that example, the unit of meter per second used in velocity, i beg your pardon is a vector, is made up of 2 scalars, which are magnitudes: the scalar of length in meters and also the scalar the time in seconds. In order to make this conversion from magnitudes come velocity, one should multiply the unit vector in a particular direction by this scalars.

Scalar Multiplication: (i) multiplying the vector extA by the scalar exta=0.5 yields the vector extB i beg your pardon is half as long. (ii) multiplying the vector extA through 3 triples that length. (iii) copy the massive (scalar) doubles the force (vector) of gravity.

Scalar Multiplication: (i) multiply the vector A through 0.5 halves its length. (ii) multiplying the vector A through 3 triples its length. (iii) enhancing the fixed (scalar) boosts the force (vector).

When multiply a vector by a scalar, the direction the the vector is unchanged and also the magnitude is multiply by the size of the scalar. This outcomes in a brand-new vector arrow pointing in the very same direction as the old one but with a longer or much shorter length. You have the right to also accomplish scalar multiplication with the usage of a vector’s components. When you have the vector’s components, multiply each of the materials by the scalar to get the new components and thus the brand-new vector.

A helpful concept in the research of vectors and also geometry is the principle of a unit vector. A unit vector is a vector through a size or magnitude of one. The unit vectors are different for different coordinates. In Cartesian collaborates the directions room x and y commonly denoted hat extx and also hat exty. With the triangle above the letters described as a “hat”. The unit vectors in Cartesian collaborates describe a circle known as the “unit circle” which has radius one. This deserve to be seen by taking all the possible vectors of size one at every the possible angles in this name: coordinates system and also placing them on the coordinates. If you to be to draw a line roughly connecting all the top of all the vectors together, you would get a circle of radius one.

Position, Displacement, Velocity, and Acceleration as Vectors

Position, displacement, velocity, and also acceleration have the right to all be displayed vectors due to the fact that they are defined in terms of a magnitude and a direction.

Learning Objectives

Examine the applications the vectors in evaluating physical quantities

Key Takeaways

Key PointsVectors space arrows consists of a magnitude and also a direction. Castle are used in physics to represent physical amounts that also have both magnitude and direction.Displacement is a physics term an interpretation the distance of things from a referral point. Due to the fact that the displacement has two piece of information: the distance from the reference suggest and the direction far from the point, that is well represented by a vector.Velocity is characterized as the price of readjust in time the the displacement. To know the velocity of an object one must recognize both how fast the displacement is an altering and in what direction. Therefore it is also well stood for by a vector.Acceleration, being the price of change of velocity likewise requires both a magnitude and also a direction family member to some coordinates.When illustration vectors, you frequently do not have enough an are to attract them come the scale they are representing, so the is crucial to represent somewhere what scale they are being attracted at.Key Termsvelocity: The rate of adjust of displacement v respect to change in time.displacement: The length and direction the a right line between two objects.acceleration: the rate at i m sorry the velocity that a body changes with time

Use the Vectors

Vectors have the right to be offered to stand for physical quantities. Most typically in physics, vectors are provided to stand for displacement, velocity, and acceleration. Vectors room a combination of magnitude and also direction, and are attracted as arrows. The length represents the magnitude and also the direction the that amount is the direction in i beg your pardon the vector is pointing. Since vectors are built this way, the is helpful to analysis physical quantities (with both size and direction) as vectors.


In physics, vectors space useful due to the fact that they deserve to visually represent position, displacement, velocity and also acceleration. When illustration vectors, you regularly do not have actually enough an are to draw them come the range they are representing, so it is important to denote somewhere what range they space being drawn at. For example, when drawing a vector the represents a size of 100, one may draw a line the is 5 units lengthy at a scale of displaystyle frac120. When the train station of the range is multiply by the drawn magnitude, it must equal the actual magnitude.

Position and also Displacement

Displacement is identified as the distance, in any type of direction, of things relative come the place of another object. Physicists usage the concept of a place vector together a graphical tool to visualize displacements. A position vector expresses the place of things from the origin of a coordinate system. A place vector can additionally be provided to show the place of things in relation to a recommendation point, an additional object or initial place (if assessing how much the object has actually moved from its original location). The place vector is a right line drawn from the arbitrary beginning to the object. Once drawn, the vector has actually a length and also a direction family member to the coordinate mechanism used.


Velocity is additionally defined in terms of a magnitude and direction. Come say the something is obtaining or losing velocity one must additionally say just how much and in what direction. For example, an airplane flying at 200 frac extkm exth to the northeast can be stood for by one vector pointing in the northeast direction with a magnitude of 200 frac extkm exth. In drawing the vector, the magnitude is only vital as a means to compare 2 vectors that the same units. So, if there to be another aircraft flying 100 frac extkm exth to the southwest, the vector arrow should be fifty percent as long and also pointing in the direction the southwest.


Acceleration, being the time price of change of velocity, is composed of a magnitude and also a direction, and also is drawn with the same principle as a velocity vector. A value for acceleration would certainly not be helpful in physics if the magnitude and also direction of this acceleration was unknown, i beg your pardon is why this vectors space important. In a complimentary body diagram, because that example, of things falling, it would certainly be helpful to use an acceleration vector close to the thing to signify its acceleration in the direction of the ground. If heaviness is the only pressure acting top top the object, this vector would be pointing downward v a magnitude of 9.81 frac extm exts^2 of 32.2 frac extft exts^2.

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Vector Diagram: right here is a man walking increase a hill. His direction of travel is characterized by the edge theta loved one to the upright axis and also by the size of the arrow going increase the hill. The is additionally being accelerated downward by gravity.