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Find all vectors in R^3 that are perpendicular to [1; 3; -1]

  1. Sep 12, 2006 #1

    The dot product is:

    [tex]\overrightarrow{x}\,=\,\left[ \begin{array}{c} x_1 \\ x_2 \\ \vdots \\ x_n \end{array} \right][/tex]

    [tex]\overrightarrow{y}\,=\,\left[ \begin{array}{c} y_1 \\ y_2 \\ \vdots \\ y_n \end{array} \right][/tex]

    in [tex]\mathbb{R}^n[/tex]:


    If the scalar [itex]\overrightarrow{x}\,\cdot\,\overrightarrow{y}[/itex] is equal to zero, the vectors are perpendicular.

    Find all vectors in [itex]\mathbb{R}^3[/itex] that are perpendicular to
    [tex]\left[ \begin{array}{c} 1 \\ 3 \\ -1 \end{array} \right][/tex].

    Draw a sketch as well.


    [tex]\left[ \begin{array}{c} 1 \\ 3 \\ -1 \end{array} \right]\,\cdot\,\left[ \begin{array}{c} x \\ y \\ z \end{array} \right]\,=\,0[/tex]



    Let s = x and t = y


    [tex]\left[ \begin{array}{c} 1 \\ 3 \\ -1 \end{array} \right]\,\cdot\,\left[ \begin{array}{c} s \\ t \\ s\,+\,3\,t \end{array} \right]\,=\,0[/tex]

    Does the above look right?
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2006 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Yes, that looks good- but where is your answer? Since the problem asks for the set of all vectors perpendicular to [1, 3, -1] your answer should be something like "All vectors satisfying" or "all vectors spanned by". You have already calculated that a vector [x, y, z] in that space must satisfy x+ 3y- z= 0; just say that. You have also calculated form that that z= x+ 3y and got [s, t, s+3t] as a "representative" vector. You could answer "all vectors of the form [s, t, s+ 3t] where s and t can be any real numbers. Finally, since [s, t, s+ 3t]= s[1, 0, 1]+ t[0, 1, 3], you could answer "the subspace spanned by [1, 0, 1] and [0, 1, 3]."

    Your picture, of course, would be the plane x+ 3y- z= 0.
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