Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Homework Help: Unit Vector to Verbal Representation

  1. Feb 10, 2006 #1
    I'm currently taking my first physics class, and on the very first day, my teacher began discussing vectors as if everyone knew what Unit Vectors were.

    I've managed to understand most of his lecture thus far, but I still don't understand- How do you convert from Unit vectors (denoted by i along the x axis, and j along the y axis) to Verbal representation? (My teacher commonly writes things in verbal representation like this: {24 [m] at 65 (degrees) along +x}.

    Could anyone help me?

    -:yuck: eggsandbakey
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 10, 2006 #2

    Doc Al

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I've never heard that referred to as the "verbal representation", but that's as good a name as any.

    Unit vectors essentially give you the components of a vector along the axes. Can you take that example you gave and find its x and y components?
  4. Feb 10, 2006 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Unit vectors always have length 1 and these vectors always point in the direction of the axes. What angle do they make with the x-axis?
  5. Feb 10, 2006 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    The vector provides a 'direction', and the unit (or unity) simply implies that it has magnitude 1, which is analogous to 1 being the basic unit of counting or whole numbers.

    In the Cartesian coordinate system (x, y, z in 3D, or just x, y in 2D) the i,j,k or [itex]\hat{x},\hat{y},\hat{z},[/itex] represent mutually orthogonal (perpendicular) orientations or directions. Each is independent of the other.

    By linear combinations of the unit vectors, one can define a displacement from some origin.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook