CHAPTER
2
Vectors
Objectives 

To understand the concept of a vector 

To apply basic operations to vectors 

To understand the zero vector 

To use the unit vectors i and j to represent vectors in two dimensions 

To use the fact that, if a and b are parallel, then a = kb for a real value k, and to use the converse of this 

To use the unit vectors i, j and k to represent vectors in three dimensions 

To understand the triangle of vectors, extending to the polygon of vectors 

To evaluate the scalar product of two vectors 

To understand the algebraic laws applicable to the scalar product 

To recognise the scalar product property of two perpendicular vectors 

To understand the concept of the angle between two vectors 

To understand vector resolutes and scalar resolutes 

To resolve a vector into rectangular components 

To apply vector techniques to proof in geometry 
2.1 Introduction to vectors
In science or engineering, some of the things that are measured are completely determined by their magnitude. For example, mass, length and time are determined by a number and an appropriate unit of measurement.
e.g. length:
time:
30 cm is the length of the page of a particular book 10 s is the time for one athlete to run 100 metres
More is required to describe velocity, displacement or force. The direction must be recorded as well as the magnitude.
e.g. velocity:
60 km/h in a direction southeast
56
Chapter2—Vectors
57
Quantities in two or threedimensional space that have direction as well as magnitude can be represented by arrows that point in the direction of the action and whose lengths give the magnitude of the quantity in terms of a suitably chosen unit. Arrows with the same length and direction are regarded as equivalent. These arrows are directed line segments and the sets of equivalent segments are called vectors. The ﬁve directed line segments shown all have
the same magnitude and direction.
y
^{B} 

A 

^{C} 
D 

O 

P 



^{F} 

E 

H 

G 
A directed line segment from a point A to a point −→
B is denoted by AB.
For simplicity of language this is also called −→ vector AB, i.e. the set of equivalent segments can
be named through one member of that set. −→
−→ AB = CD = OP = EF = GH
−→
−→
−→
Note:
x
In Essential Advanced General Mathematics a
column of numbers was introduced to represent the translation and it was called a vector. This is consistent with the approach here as the column of numbers corresponds to a set of equivalent directed line segments.
The column _{2} corresponds to the directed line
segment that goes 3 across and 2 up. This notation will be used to represent a directed
line segment in the ﬁrst section of this chapter. Vectors are often denoted by a single boldface roman letter. For example, the vector from A to B can be −→ denoted by AB or by a single v. That is, v = AB. When a vector is handwritten the notation is v.
3
−→
˜
y
B
2 units
A
3 units
0
x
Magnitude of vectors
−→ The magnitude of vector AB is denoted by  AB, and for vector v the magnitude is denoted by
v. The magnitude of a vector is represented by the length of a directed line segment corresponding to the vector. −→
−→
For AB in the diagram above, Pythagoras’ theorem gives  AB = ^{√} 3 ^{2} + 2 ^{2} = ^{√} 13.
In
−→
general, if AB is represented by the column vector ^{x} _{y} the magnitude,  AB, is equal
−→
−→
to ^{} x ^{2} + y ^{2} .
58 Essential Specialist Mathematics
Addition of vectors (the triangle of vectors)
Two vectors u and v can be added geometrically by drawing a line segment representing u from A to B and then a line segment from B to C representing v. The sum u + v is the vector from A to C. That is, −→ u + v = AC .
The same result is achieved if the order is reversed. This is represented in the diagram:
−→
i.e. 
u + v 
= AC 
and 
u + v = v + u 
The addition can also be achieved with the column vector notation. For example:
if
u = ^{4} and v = ^{−}^{1}
1
3
then
u + v = ^{4}
1
^{} _{+} ^{} −1
3
=
3
4
Scalar multiplication
Multiplication by a real number (scalar) changes the length of the vector. For example:
2u = u + u and _{2} u + _{2} u = u
2u is twice the length of u and _{2} u is half the length of u.
1
1
1
The vector ku, k ∈ R ^{+} , has the same direction as u, but its length is multiplied by a factor of k. When a vector is multiplied by −2 the vector’s direction is reversed and its length is doubled.
A
B
4
D
A
B
3
1
u
Chapter2—Vectors
59
When a vector is multiplied by −1 the vector’s direction is reversed and the length remains the same.
u = _{2} ,−u = ^{−}^{3}
−→ u = AB then −u = − AB = BA .
3
_{−}_{2} , 2u = _{4} and −2u = ^{−}^{6}
6
−4
−→
−→
If
If
−→ The directed line segment − AB starts at B and ﬁnishes at A.
Zero vector
The zero vector is denoted by 0 and represents a line segment of zero length. The zero vector has no direction. The magnitude of the zero vector is 0. Note that 0 × a = 0 and a + (−a) = 0.
In two dimensions, 0 = ^{0} 0
Subtraction of vectors
In order to subtract v from u, add −v to u. For example:
Draw the directed line segment deﬁned by _{−}_{2} and state the magnitude of the corresponding
vector.
Solution
3 _{−}_{2} is the vector ‘3 across to the right and 2 down’.
y
x
Note: Here the vector starts at (1, 1) and ﬁnishes at (4, −1). It can start at any point. The
magnitude of the vector = ^{} 3 ^{2} + (−2) ^{2} = ^{√} 13
60 Essential Specialist Mathematics
The vector u is deﬁned by the directed line segment from (2, 6) to (3, 1). If u = ^{a} _{b} ﬁnd a and b.
Solution
^{2} From the diagram _{6}
+ u = ^{3}
1
The vector u = ^{3} ^{−} ^{2} 1 −
Hence a = 1 and b = −5.
6 =
−5
1
Polygons of vectors
−→ For two vectors AB and BC, AB + BC = AC
−→
−→
−→
−→
y
x
A
−→ Illustrate the vector sum AB + BC + CD where A, B, C and D are points in the plane.
Parallel vectors
Chapter2—Vectors
61
The nonzero vectors u and v are said to be parallel if there exists k ∈ R\{0} such that u = kv.
If u = ^{−}^{2} and v = ^{−}^{6} then vector u is parallel to v as v = 3u.
3
9
Position vectors
The point O, the origin, can be used as a starting point for a vector to indicate the position of a point in space relative to that point. For a point A the position vector is OA.
−→
The twodimensional vector a =
a
a
2 1 is associated
with the point (a _{1} , a _{2} ). The position vector representing a is the position vector which ends at point (a _{1} , a _{2} ).
^{a} 2
O
y
^{a} 1
x
Vectors in three dimensions
The deﬁnition of vector given above is, of course, also valid in three dimensions. The properties which hold in two dimensions also hold in three dimensions. For vectors in three dimensions, a third axis, denoted by z, is used. The x axis is drawn at an angle to indicate a direction out of the page and towards the reader.
The third axis is at right angles to the other two axes. a can be represented as a column vector.
z
(0, a _{2} , a _{3} )
y
a =
a 1
a 2
a 3
and a = OA the position vector of the point A.
−→
The position vector representing a is the position vector which ends at the point (a _{1} , a _{2} , a _{3} ). It is appropriate to summarise the following properties for vectors of the same dimension before proceeding.
x

a 
+ b = b + a 
commutative law for vector addition 

(a + b) + c = a + (b + c) 
associative law for vector addition 


a + 0 = a 
zero vector 


a + −a = 0 
−a is the opposite or inverse vector 


m(a + b) = ma + mb 
distributive law where m ∈ R 


a 
is parallel to b if there exists k ∈ R \ {0} such that a = kb 
62 Essential Specialist Mathematics
Let V, A _{1} , A _{2}
and A _{n} be points in space.
V
^{A} 1
^{A} 2
A n – 1
A n
−→ Then VA _{1} + A _{1} A _{2} + A _{2} A _{3} +···
−−→
−−→
−−−−→
A n−1 A n =
−→
VA _{n}
Find the following vectors in terms of a, g, and c:
a
d
−→
OB −→
GB
−→ 
−→ 

b 
OF −→ 
c 
GD 

e 
FA 

Solution 

−→ 
−→ 
−→ 

a OA + AB OB = 

−→ 
−→ 
= a + c
(as AB = OC)
−→
−→
−→
b OF = OC + CF
−→
−→
−→ = c + g −→ 
(as CF = OG) 
c OA GD = −→ = a −→ 

−→ 
−→ 
d GB = GO + OA + AB
= −g + a + c −→
−→
−→
e FA = FG + GO + OA
−→
= −c − g + a
F
C
B
D
A
OABC is a tetrahedron. −→ OA = a, OB = b, OC = c
M is the midpoint of AC
N is the midpoint of OC
P is the midpoint of OB.
−→
−→
Find in terms of a, b and c:
−→ 
−→ 
−→ 
−→ 
−→ 

a 
AC 
b 
OM 
c 
CN 
d 
MN 
e 
MP 
^{A}
M
^{C}
Solution
a
−→
−→
−→
AC = AO + OC
c
=
−→
CN =
1
2
1
−a + c
−→
CO
= _{2} (−c)
= −
1 2 ^{c}
e
−→
−→
−→
MP = MO + OP
1
= − _{2} (a + c) +
1
2 ^{b}
1
= _{2} (b − (a + c))
b
d
Chapter2—Vectors
−→
OM =
−→
−→
OA + AM
−→
= OA +
1
2
−→
AC
1
= a + _{2} (−a + c)
1
= _{2} (a + c)
−→
−→
−→
MN = MO + ON
= − _{2} (a + c) +
=
2 ^{a} i.e. MN is parallel to AO
1
1
1
2 ^{c}
1
2 ^{c}
_{2} a − _{2} c +
1
1
= −
63
Linear dependence and independence
A set of vectors is said to be linearly dependent if one of its members can be expressed as a
linear combination of the other vectors.
For example, the set of vectors a, b and c is linearly dependent if there exist real numbers k, l and m, not all zero, such that ka + lb + mc = 0.
A set of vectors is said to be linearly independent if it is not linearly dependent.
The vectors a, b and c are linearly independent if the solution of the equation ka + lb + mc = 0 is uniquely represented by k = l = m = 0. Two simple facts about linear independence are:

a 
set that contains the zero vector is linearly dependent 

set with exactly two vectors is linearly independent if and only if one vector is not a scalar multiple of the other a 
An alternative practical deﬁnition of linear dependence of three vectors is given below. Consider the set of vectors a, b and c.
If a and b can be observed to be independent, i.e. not parallel, then the set of vectors a, b
and c is linearly dependent if there exist real numbers m and n, not both zero, such that
c = ma + nb. This representation of c in terms of two independent vectors a and b is unique as demonstrated in this important result.
Let a and b be two independent (not parallel) vectors. Then ma + nb = pa + qb implies m = p and n = q ma + nb and pa + qb may be considered as two possible representations of vector c.
Proof
If ma + nb = pa + qb
As a and b are independent vectors, then by the deﬁnition of linear independence, (m − p) = 0 and (n − q) = 0.
then
(m − p)a + (n − q)b = 0.
64 Essential Specialist Mathematics
That is, m = p and n = q. c has a unique representation.
a a = ^{2} , b = _{−}_{1} and c =
1
3
5
6
b
3
a = ⎡ 4
⎢
⎣
−1
⎤
⎥
⎦, b = ⎡ 1 _{⎦} and c = ⎡ 0
1
2
⎢
⎤
⎣
3
−1
⎢
⎣
⎥
⎤
⎥
⎦
Solution
a We note that a and b are not parallel.
c = ma + nb
Then 5 = 2m + 3n
Let
6 = m − n
Solving the simultaneous equations we have m = ^{2}^{3} This set of vectors is linearly dependent.
Generally any set of three or more twodimensional vectors will be linearly dependent.
5
and n = ^{−}^{7}
5
^{.}
b Again we note that a and b are not parallel.
Let
Then −1 = 3m + 2n
c = ma + nb
0 = 4m + n
1 = −m + 3n
Solving the ﬁrst two equations we have m =
However, when these values are substituted in the third equation,
−m + 3n = ^{−}^{1}^{3} = 1.
_{5} and n = ^{−}^{4}
1
5
^{.}
5
^{}
There are no solutions which satisfy the three equations
∴ the vectors are linearly independent.
Points A and B have position vectors a and b respectively relative to an origin O. The point D is −→ such that OD = k OA and the point E is such that AE = l AB. The line segments BD and OE −→
−→ intersect at X. If OX = ^{2} OE and XB = ^{4} DB −→
a Express OX in terms of a, b, k and l. −→
b Express XB in terms of a, b, k and l.
−→
−→
−→
−→
5
−→
5
c Find k and l.
^{O}
Solution −→
a
=
=
=
−→ OX = ^{2} OE
5
5
(
−→
5
^{2}
5
(
−→
−→ ^{2} OA + AE)
−→ ^{2} OA + l AB)
−→
−→ (a + l( AO + OB))
= ^{2} (a + l(−a + b))
5
= ^{2} ((1 − l)a + lb)
5
−→
c Note XB = XO + OB −→
−→
XB
−→
5
∴
= ^{−}^{2} [(1 − l)a + lb] + b
_{=}
=
−2
5
(1 − l)a + ^{} 1 − ^{2}^{l} ^{} b
5
^{2} (l − 1)a + ^{} 1 − ^{2}^{l} ^{} b
5
5
Chapter2—Vectors
b
−→
−→ XB = ^{4} DB
5
5
5
5
5
(
−→
−→
−→ ^{4} DO + OB)
−→ ^{4} (− OD + OB)
−→ ^{4} (−k OA + OB)
=
=
=
= ^{4} (−ka + b)
−→
= − ^{4} ka + ^{4} b
5
5
65
−→ As a and b are independent vectors, XB has a unique representation in terms of a and b.
∴
−
5 ^{4} ka + ^{4} b = ^{2} (l − 1)a + ^{} 1 − ^{2}^{l} ^{} b
5
5
Hence ^{−}^{4} k = ^{2} (l − 1)
5
5
∴
^{4}
5
k = ^{2} ×
5
1
4
∴ k =
1
2
and ^{4}
5
= 1 − ^{2}^{l}
5
i
iv
−→
OC
−→
DC
ii
v
_{O}_{E}
−→
DE
−→
iii
In the diagram, OA = a and OB = b.
a Find in terms of a and −→ b:
−→
OD
b If a = 1 and b = −→ 2, ﬁnd:
−→
i
 OC
ii
 _{O}_{E}_{}
iii
−→
 OD
66 Essential Specialist Mathematics
2 Using a scale of 1 cm = 20 km/h, draw vectors to represent:
a a car travelling south at 60 km/h
b a car travelling north at 80 km/h
3 If the magnitude of a = 3, ﬁnd the magnitude of:
4
a 2a
b
3
_{2} _{a}
c
−
1
2 ^{a}
OA ^{} = A ^{} A ^{}^{} = A ^{}^{} A ^{}^{}^{} = A ^{}^{}^{} A
_{O}_{B} _{=} _{B} _{B} _{=} _{B} _{B} _{=} _{B} _{B}
−→
−→ If OA = a and OB = b, ﬁnd in terms of a and b:
−→ 
−→ 
−→ 

a i 
OA ^{} 
ii 
_{O}_{B} ^{} 
iii 
A ^{} B ^{} 

−→ 

iv 
AB 

−→ 
−→ 
−−→ 

b i 
OA ^{}^{} 
ii 
_{O}_{B} ^{}^{} 
iii 
_{A} _{B} 

5 Find in the terms of a, b, c and d: 

−→ 
−→ 
−→ 

a 
XW 
b 
VX 
c 
ZY 
6 The position vectors of two points A and B are a and b. Find:
−→
a AB
−→
b where M is the midpoint of AB
AM
−→
c OM
7 ABCD is a trapezium with AB parallel to DC. X and Y are midpoints of AD and BC respectively. −→
a Express XY in terms of a and b where −→
−→
AB = a and DC = b.
b Show that XY is parallel to AB.
8 ABCDEF is a regular hexagon, centre G. The
position vectors of A, B and C relative to an origin O are a, b and c respectively. Express:
−→
a in terms of a, b and c
OG
−→
b in terms of a, b and c
CD
X
V
W
c
Z
O
9
OABCD is a right square pyramid. −→
−→ OA = a, OB = b, OC = c, and OD = d
−→
−→
−→
_{a} Find AB in terms of a and b. −→
Find DC in terms of c and d. −→
i
ii
−→
iii Use the fact that AB = DC to ﬁnd a relationship −→ between a, b, c and d.
_{b} Find BC in terms of b and c.
i
ii Let M be the midpoint of DC and N the midpoint of OB. Find MN in terms of a, b
10
11
12
13
and c.
Determine whether the following sets of vectors are linearly dependent.
a
b
c
a = ⎡ 1 ⎦, b = ⎡ −1 _{⎦} and c = ⎡ 2
6
⎢
4
⎣
3
⎤
⎥
⎢
2
⎣
3
⎤
⎥
−4
⎢
⎣
⎤
⎥
⎦
⎤
⎥
a = ⎡ 1 ⎦, b = ⎡ 2 _{⎦} and c = ⎡ 3 ⎦
⎢
3
⎣
2
⎤
⎥
⎢
4
⎣
1
⎤
⎥
⎢
6
⎣
4
1
a = ⎡ 1
⎢
⎣
−1
⎤
⎥
⎦, b = ⎡ −1 _{⎦} and c = ⎡ −5 ⎦
⎤
⎢
3
⎣
4
⎤
⎥
⎢
⎣
3
11
⎥
In the following, a and b are nonzero and nonparallel vectors.
a If ka + lb = 3a + (1 − l)b, ﬁnd the values of l and k.
b If 2(l − 1)a + 1 − _{5} b = ^{−}^{4}
l
_{5}
ka + 3b ﬁnd the values of l and k.
−→
−→
−→
In the cuboid shown OG = g, OC = c and OA = a. M is the
midpoint of ED. Find each of the following in terms of a, g and c:
a
d
F 

−→ 
−→ 

b 
AB 
c 
EM 

−→ 

e 
AM 

A 
−→
EF
−→
OM
B
P, Q and R are points with position vectors 2a − b, 3a + b and a + 4b respectively
relative to an origin O where a and b are nonzero, nonparallel vectors. Given that S is −→ the point on OP produced such that OS = k OP and RS = m RQ −→
a Express OS in terms of:
−→
−→
−→
i k, a and b
ii m, a and b
b
Hence evaluate k and m.
68 Essential Specialist Mathematics
14 The position vectors of points A and B, relative to an origin O, are a and b respectively −→ where a and b are nonzero, nonparallel vectors. The point P is such that OP = 4 OB. −→
−→
8
5 OQ.
The midpoint of AB is the point Q. The point R is such that OR =
a Find in terms of a and −→ b:
_{O}_{R}
b Show that R lies on AP and state the ratio AR : RP. −→
−→
OQ
−→ 
−→ 

iii 
AR 
iv 
RP 
−→
i
ii
−→
c Given that the point S is such that OS = OQ, ﬁnd the value of such that PS is
parallel to BA.
15 Let a = ^{2} and b = _{−}_{3} . Find the value of x and y for which:
1
1
a xa = (y − 1)b
b (2 − x)a = 3a + (7 − 3y)b
c (5 + 2x)(a + b) = y(3a + 2b)
2.2 Resolution of a vector into rectangular components
z
A
unit vector with the same direction as a is denoted by aˆ and aˆ =
i is a unit vector in the positive direction of the x axis.
unit vector is a vector of magnitude 1. For a given vector a the
x
j and k are unit vectors in the direction of the y and z axes respectively.
i
= 0 and j = ^{0} for vectors in two dimensions.
1
1
i
= ⎡ 0 ⎦, j = ⎡ 1 _{⎦} and k = ⎡ 0 _{⎦} for vectors in
⎢
⎣
1
0
⎤
⎥
⎢
⎣
0
0
⎤
⎥
⎢
⎣
0
1
⎤
⎥
y
three dimensions. It is evident that i, j and k are linearly independent.
All vectors in two or three dimensions can be expressed uniquely as a sum of multiples
of i, j and k.
e.g.
r = ⎣ ⎡
⎢
⎤
⎥
⎢
⎡ 0 ⎦ + ⎡ r 2 ⎦ + ⎡ 0 _{⎦} = r _{1} i + r _{2} j + r _{3} k
⎤
⎥
r
r 2 ⎦ = ⎣
r
r
1
0
⎢
0
⎣
0
⎤
⎥
⎢
0
⎣
r
3
⎤
⎥
1
3
For two dimensions
Here r = xi + yj
Note r = ^{} x ^{2} + y ^{2}
The coordinates of P are (x, y)
y
x
For three dimensions
−→ OP = xi + yj + zk −→
and  OP = ^{} x ^{2} + y ^{2} + z ^{2} The coordinates of P are (x, y, z) The basic operations on vectors in i, j and k notation can be summarised as follows.
+
Let
Then
a _{1} i a + b = (a _{1}
a − b =
a
=
a _{2} j + a _{3} k,
+ b _{1} )i + (a _{2}
and b = b _{1} i + b _{2} j + b _{3} k + b _{2} )j + (a _{3} + b _{3} )k
x
(a _{1} − b _{1} )i + (a _{2} − b _{2} )j + (a _{3} − b _{3} )k
and
ma = ma _{1} i + ma _{2} j + ma _{3} k for scalar m
Equivalence
If a = b then a _{1} = b _{1} , a _{2} = b _{2} and a _{3} = b _{3}
Magnitude
a = a ^{2} + a
1
2
2
+ a
2
3
70 Essential Specialist Mathematics
a Using the vectors i and −→ j, give the vectors: −→ −→
b
i
OA
−→
AB
−→
AB
ii
ii
ii
_{O}_{B}
BC
BC
iii
OC
Using the vectors i and −→ j, give the vectors:
i
Find the magnitude of −→ the vectors:
i
c
iv
−→
OD
Solution −→
a i OA = 2i + 3j −→ 
ii 

iii OC 
= i − 2j −→ 
iv 

−→ 
−→ 

b AB = AO + OB i 

= −2i − 3j + 4i + j 

= 2i − 2j 

−→ c  AB = ^{√} 4 + 4 i 
=
=
^{√} 8 2 ^{√} 2
OB = 4i + j
−→
−→
OD = −2i + 3j
ii
−→
−→
−→
BC = BO + OC
= −4i − j + i − 2j
= −3i − 3j
ii
−→
 BC = ^{} (−3) ^{2} + (−3) ^{2}
=
=
^{√} 18 3 ^{√} 2
Find: a
a + b
b
a − 2b
c
a + b + c
d
a
Solution
a a + b = (i + 2j − k) + (3i − 2k) = 4i + 2j − 3k
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