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# Chapter 1

## Vectors and the Geometry

of Space
1.1 3D Coordinate Systems
1.1.1 Review of the One-Dimensional and Two-Dimensional
Spaces
One-dimensional Space
The one-dimensional space is also known as R. Its geometric representation is
a line. To locate points on a line, only one number is needed. That number
is called the coordinate of the point. It simply represents the distance between
a xed origin usually denoted O and the point. By convention, the origin is
assigned the coordinate 0. Positive coordinates are to the right of the origin,
negative coordinates are to the left of the origin.
If P and Q are two points with respective coordinates x
1
and x
2
as shown
in gure 1.2, then the distance between P and Q, denoted [PQ[ is
[PQ[ = [x
2
x
1
[ (1.1)
=
q
(x
2
x
1
)
2
Figure 1.1: Real Line: R
1
2 CHAPTER 1. VECTORS AND THE GEOMETRY OF SPACE
Figure 1.2: Distance on the real line
It is better to remember the second form of the distance formula. As we will
see, it is this form which generalizes to higher dimensions.
Example 1 The distanced between P (3) and Q(7) is
[PQ[ = [7 3[
= 4
Two-dimensional Space (2-D)
The two dimensional-space is a plane. It is known as R
2
also denoted R R.
This is because to locate a point, two numbers are needed. Every point in the
plane can be represented as an ordered pair (x; y) as shown in gure 1.3 where
x is the x-coordinate and y is the y-coordinate of the point. Thus,
R
2
= R R
= (x; y) : x R; y R
Remark 2 It is useful to remember that the x-coordinate of a point in the plane
gives the distance between that point and the y-axis. Similarly, the y-coordinate
of the point gives the distance between that point and the x-axis.
If we have two points P (x
1
; y
1
) and Q(x
2
; y
2
) as shown in gure 1.4, then
using the Pythagorean theorem, we have
[PQ[
2
= (x
2
x
1
)
2
+ (y
2
y
1
)
2
Therefore
[PQ[ =
q
(x
2
x
1
)
2
+ (y
2
y
1
)
2
(1.2)
1.1. 3D COORDINATE SYSTEMS 3
Figure 1.3: 2-D Space (R
2
)
Figure 1.4: Distance in the plane
4 CHAPTER 1. VECTORS AND THE GEOMETRY OF SPACE
Figure 1.5: Right-handed Coordinate System
Example 3 If we have two points P (1; 3) and Q(2; 4) then
[PQ[ =
q
(2 1)
2
+ (4 3)
2
=
_
1 + 1
=
_
2
Example 4 A circle in the plane is dened to be the set of points at a xed
distance (called the radius) of a given point (called the center of the circle).
What is the equation of the circle of radius r > 0, centered at the point P of
coordinates (h; k)?
Let Q of coordinates (x; y) be a point on this circle. Writing the equation of
the circle amounts to nding the conditions x and y must satisfy so that Q is
on the circle. This will happen if [PQ[ = r. If we square both sides, we obtain
[PQ[
2
= r
2
or using the denition of the distance, we obtain
(x h)
2
+ (y k)
2
= r
2
1.1.2 Three-dimensional Space (3-D)
In order to represent points in space (3-D), we rst select a xed point we call
the origin. We then select three directed lines, perpendicular to each other and
going through the origin. These axes are called coordinate axes. We must
adopt some convention to determine the positive and negatives directions for
each axes. Usually, in mathematics, the x and y-axes are horizontal and the z-
axis is vertical. Their direction being determined by the right-hand rule shown
on gure 1.5. If the index points in the positive direction of the x-axis and the
middle nger in the positive direction of the y-axis, then the thumb points in
the positive direction of the z-axis. Another way to remember this is that if
you think of a screw, then turning the screw in the direction from x to y, then
1.1. 3D COORDINATE SYSTEMS 5
z would point in the direction the screw is moving toward. Yet another way. If
you position the x and y axes the way they are positioned in 2D, z would point
toward the reader in a right-handed coordinate system.
The 3D space, is denoted R
3
. It is the set of triples in which each coordinate
is a real number. In other words,
R
3
= R R R
= (x; y; z) : x R; y R; z R
In addition to the coordinate axes, three planes play an important role.
They are the planes containing two of the coordinate axes, they are called
the coordinate planes. There are three of them. They are the xy-plane,
the yz-plane and the xz-plane. If a point P has coordinates (a; b; c) then a
represents the distance between the point and the yz-plane, b represents the
distance between the point and the xz-plane and c the distance between the
point and the xy-plane. On the xy-plane, we always have z = 0. This is the
equation of the xy-plane. Similarly, the equation of the xz-plane is y = 0 and
the equation of the yz-plane is x = 0.
If P (x
1
; y
1
; z
1
) and Q (x
2
; y
2
; z
2
) are two points in space, then the distance
between them is give by
[PQ[ =
q
(x
2
x
1
)
2
+ (y
2
y
1
)
2
+ (z
2
z
1
)
2
Remark 5 You will note that this formula is similar to the distance formula
in R
2
and R. It simply has a component for the z-coordinate of the points.
Example 6 A sphere is dened to be the set of points at a xed distance (called
the radius) of a given point (called the center of the sphere). What is the equation
of the sphere of radius r > 0, centered at the point P of coordinates (h; k; l)?
We proceed as we did for the circle. If Q (x; y; z) is a point on the sphere, then
[PQ[ = r. Squaring both sides gives us [PQ[
2
= r
2
or using the denition of the
distance, we obtain
(x h)
2
+ (y k)
2
+ (z l)
2
= r
2
The planes containing two of the coordinate axes are called coordinate
planes. Thus, there are three coordinate planes. They are the xy-plane, the
xz-plane and the yz-plane.
The equation of the xy-plane is z = 0. Similarly, x = 0 is the equation of
the yz-plane and y = 0 is the equation of the xz-plane.
If the above equations, if we replace 0 by a number, then we obtain planes
which are parallel to one of the coordinate planes. For example, y = 5 is the
equation of the plane parallel to the xz-plane, 5 units above the xz-plane:
1.1.3 Basic Geometric Shapes
Here, we look at the equations of some known shapes in the plane and see what
objects the same equation will generate in space.
6 CHAPTER 1. VECTORS AND THE GEOMETRY OF SPACE
Example 7 Describe the set of points in the plane given by x = 3. Do the same
in space.
In the plane:
In space:
Example 8 Describe the set of points in the plane given by y = 2x+3. Do the
same in space.
In the plane:
In space:
Example 9 Describe the set of points in the plane given by z = 2x+3. Do the
same in space.
In the plane:
In space:
Example 10 Describe the set of points in the plane given by x
2
+ y
2
= 4. Do
the same in space.
In the plane:
In space:
Example 11 Describe the set of points in the plane given by x
2
+ z
2
= 4. Do
the same in space.
In the plane:
In space:
Example 12 Describe the set of points in the plane given by x
2
+ y
2
_ 4. Do
the same in space.
In the plane:
In space:
Example 13 Describe the set of points in the plane given by 2 _ x
2
+y
2
_ 4.
Do the same in space.
In the plane:
In space:
1.1. 3D COORDINATE SYSTEMS 7
1.1.4 Problems
1. Suppose you are told a point P has coordinates (a; b; c). Explain the
meaning of the numbers a; b; c in terms of distance to the coordinate planes
(the xy, xz and yz-planes).
2. Sketch the points P (0; 1; 0), Q(2; 0; 0), R(0; 0; 3), A(1; 2; 0), B(2; 0; 1),
C (0; 1; 3), D(1; 2; 2).
3. Consider the points P (1; 4; 6), Q(2; 0; 5) and R(3; 1; 4).
(a) Which of the points is closest to the xy-plane?
(b) Which of the points is closest to the xz-plane?
(c) Which of the points is closest to the yz-plane?
(d) Do any of the points lie on a coordinate plane? If yes, which point(s)
and on which coordinate plane(s)?
4. Determine whether the points below lie on a straight line.
(a) P (2; 4; 2), Q(3; 7; 2), R(1; 3; 3)
(b) P (0; 5; 5), Q(1; 2; 4), R(3; 4; 2)
5. Find the length of the sides of the triangle PQR for the given points.
Determine if it is a right triangle, an isosceles triangle.
(a) P (3; 2; 3), Q(7; 0; 1), R(1; 2; 1)
(b) P (2; 1; 0), Q(4; 1; 1), R(4; 5; 4)
6. Give a geometric description of the set of points in space satisfying x = 2
and y = 3.
7. Give a geometric description of the set of points in space satisfying y = 0
and z = 0.
8. Give a geometric description of the set of points in space satisfying x
2
+
y
2
= 4 and z = 0.
9. Give a geometric description of the set of points in space satisfying x
2
+
z
2
= 4 and y = 0.
10. Give a geometric description of the set of points in space satisfying x
2
+
y
2
+z
2
= 1 and x = 0.
11. Give a geometric description of the set of points in space satisfying x
2
+
y
2
+ (z + 3)
2
= 25 and z = 0.
12. Give a geometric description of the set of points in space satisfying the
given condition:
8 CHAPTER 1. VECTORS AND THE GEOMETRY OF SPACE
(a) x _ 0, y _ 0, z = 0.
(b) x _ 0, y _ 0, z = 0.
13. Give a geometric description of the set of points in space satisfying the
given condition:
(a) x
2
+y
2
+z
2
_ 1.
(b) x
2
+y
2
+z
2
> 1.
14. Give a geometric description of the set of points in space satisfying the
given condition:
(a) x
2
+y
2
+z
2
= 1, z _ 0.
(b) x
2
+y
2
+z
2
_ 1, z _ 0.
15. Write an equation or two equations corresponding to:
(a) The plane perpendicular to the x-axis at (3; 0; 0).
(b) The plane perpendicular to the y-axis at (0; 1; 0).
(c) The plane perpendicular to the z-axis at (0; 0; 2).
16. Write an equation or two equations corresponding to the plane through
(3; 1; 1) parallel to:
(a) The xy-plane.
(b) The yz-plane.
(c) The xz-plane.
17. Write an equation or two equations corresponding to the circle of radius
2 centered at (0; 2; 0) and lying in:
(a) The xy-plane.
(b) The yz-plane.
(c) The plane y = 2 .
18. Write an equation or two equations corresponding to the line through
(1; 3; 1) parallel to:
(a) The x-axis.
(b) The y-axis.
(c) The z-axis.
19. Write an equation or two equations corresponding to the circle in which
the plane through (1; 1; 3) perpendicular to the z-axis meets the sphere of
radius 5 centered at the origin.
1.1. 3D COORDINATE SYSTEMS 9
20. Write inequalities to describe the slab bounded by the planes z = 0 and
z = 1, the two planes are included.
21. Write inequalities to describe the half space consisting of the point on and
below the xy-plane.
22. Find the distance between P
1
(1; 1; 1) and P
2
(3; 3; 0).
23. Find the distance between P
1
(1; 4; 5) and P
2
(4; 2; 7).
24. Find the center and radius of the sphere (x + 2)
2
+y
2
+ (z 2)
2
= 8.
25. Find the center and radius of the sphere

x
_
2

2
+

y
_
2

2
+

z +
_
2

2
=
2.
26. Write the equation of the sphere centered at (1; 2; 3) with radius
_
14.
27. Find the center and radius of the sphere x
2
+y
2
+z
2
+ 4x 4z = 0.
28. Find the center and radius of the sphere 2x
2
+ 2y
2
+ 2z
2
+x +y +z = 9.
29. Find a formula for the distance from P (x; y; z) and:
(a) x-axis.
(b) y-axis.
(c) z-axis