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Vectors Subtracting and Adding Vectors

Aim To show how to subtract and add vectors. Learning Outcomes At the end of this section you will be able to: Subtract/add one vector from/to another, Subtract and add vectors written in component form, Understand what a unit vector is.

The Laws of Adding and Subtracting Vectors


Vectors may be added using the triangle law or the parallelogram law as demonstrated below.

Triangle Law
In the triangle given below, the vector ab is followed by the vector bc. The third side of the triangle, ( ac ) represents the sum of the vectors ab and bc. This may be written as ac = ab + bc. Notice that the vector ac goes from the starting point of the rst vector to the end point of the second vector. ab + bc

bc

ab

Parallelogram Law
If the starting point of two vectors ab and ad coincide as shown below, then the diagonal of the parallelogram formed by these vectors represents the sum of these two vectors, ab + ad. 1

Vectors
ab + ad

ad

ab Vector subtraction is dened in terms of addition and scalar multiplication by v w = v + ( w ). The method here is to rst of all form the vector w (the negative of the vector w) and then add this new vector (using the parallelogram or triangle law) to the vector v .

Vectors in Coordinate Systems


If a vector v is positioned so that its initial point is at the origin of a rectangular coordinate system, then its end point will have the form (v1 , v2 ) (2-D space) or (v1 , v2 , v3 ) (3-D space). We call these coordinates the components of v , and we can write v in component form as v = v1 , v2 or v = v1 , v 2 , v 3 .

The components provide a simple way or identifying equivalent vectors. If two vec tors, v = v1 , v2 and w = w1 , w2 , are equal then that would mean that they have the same length and the same direction. This would mean that their end points coincide when their initial points are placed at the origin. It follows that v1 = w1 and v2 = w2 , so we have shown that equivalent vectors have the same components. Theorem: Two vectors are equivalent if and only if their corresponding components are equal. Arithmetic Operations on Vectors written in Component Form The following results shall be shown for 2-D space but similar results are possible in 3-D space too. Theorem: If v = v1 , v2 and w = w1 , w2 are vectors in 2-D space and k is any scalar, then v + w = v1 + w1 , v2 + w2 , 2

Vectors
v w = v1 w1 , v2 w2 , k v = kv1 , kv2 . Example 1 If v = 2, 0, 1 and w = 1, 3, 5 then, v + w = v w = 3 w = 2 + 1, 0 + (3), 1 + 5 = 1, 3, 6 , 2 1, 0 (3), 1 5 = 3, 3, 4 , 3(1), 3(3), 3(5) = 3, 9, 15 .

The Perpendicular Unit Vectors i, j and k


A vector of length 1 is called a unit vector. In an xy -coordinate system the unit vectors along the x- and y -axes are denoted by i and j, respectively. In an xyz -coordinate system the unit vectors along the x-, y - and z -axes are denoted by i, j and k, respectively. Thus, i = i = 1, 0 , 1, 0, 0 , j = 0, 1 j = 0, 1, 0 , k = 0, 0, 1 (2 D Space) (3 D Space)

Every vector in 2-D or 3-D space is expressible uniquely in terms of the vectors i, j and k as follows: v = v1 , v2 = v1 , 0 + 0, v2 = v1 1, 0 + v2 0, 1 = v1 i + v2 j. Vectors written in terms of the unit vectors i, j and k can be added together or subtracted from each other by simply carrying out the arithmetic operation on the corresponding i, j and k components of the vectors. Example 2 (3i + 4j) + (2i + j) = (3 2)i + (4 + 1)j = 1i + 5j = i + 5j. 5(3i + 2j) (7i + 3j) = (15i + 10j) (7i + 3j) = (15 7)i + (10 3)j = 8i + 7j. |3i 2j + 4k| = 32 + (2)2 + 42 = 9 + 4 + 16 = 29.

Vectors
Finding a Unit Vector in the same direction as a given Vector
For any given vector u, the unit vector in the direction of u, represented by u , is a vector whose direction is the same as u and whose length is 1. The following formula can be used to calculate a unit vector in the direction of a given vector u, u = u . |u |

Example 3 Find the unit vector in the same direction as v = 2i + 2j k. The vector v has length |v | = Therefore, 22 + 22 + (1)2 = 3.

1 2 2 1 v = v = i + j k. 3 3 3 3

Related Reading
Adams, R.A. 2003. Calculus: A Complete Course. 5th Edition. Pearson Education Limited. Anton, H., I. Bivens, S. Davis. 2005. Calculus. 8th Edition. John Wiley & Sons. Morris, O.D., P. Cooke. 1993. Text & Tests 5. The Celtic Press.