# Force magnitude and direction Problems

## Homework Statement

When doing force problems, you're sometimes asked to solve for the magnitude and direction of a given force acting on an object given the mass of the object, its accelleration, and the other forces acting on it. However, the force that you need to solve for could be one-dimensional or two-dimensional. How do you know if the force you are solving for is one or two-dimensional, because that will affect your calculations?

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## Answers and Replies

gneill
Mentor
Forces are vectors, so they have magnitude and direction. When analyzing a system it sometimes happens that you can choose your coordinate system so that all the forces and motions lie along (or are parallel to) a single coordinate axis. Then you have a so-called one-dimensional system and often you can drop the vector notation and deal with scalar magnitudes only . But more often you find that there are forces and motions occurring that require multiple coordinate axes to describe their directions. Essentially you have to look at your problem and determine how many coordinates are going to be required to describe it.