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Why i-hat, j-hat, k-hat

  1. Jun 20, 2011 #1

    tony873004

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    Why are i, j, and k perfered in many texts to represent the 3 spacial dimensions instead of (what seems to me to be more intuitive) x, y, and z?
     
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  3. Jun 20, 2011 #2

    Nabeshin

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  4. Jun 21, 2011 #3

    DrGreg

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    By convention, i, j, k are vectors. x, y, z are coordinates. So you might have (in a cartesian coordinate system)
    [tex]\textbf{r} = x\textbf{i} + y\textbf{j} + z\textbf{k} [/tex]
    Follow Nabeshin's link for more.
     
  5. Jun 21, 2011 #4
    It's just a convention. There's no special reason for it, probably other than the fact that they are less confusing than using [tex]\mathbf{ \hat{x}}[/tex] [tex]\mathbf{ \hat{y}}[/tex] and [tex]\mathbf{ \hat{z}}[/tex]
     
  6. Jun 21, 2011 #5
    More than that, they are unit vectors.

    x. y and z extend from minus infinity to plus infinity.
     
  7. Jul 7, 2011 #6

    tony873004

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    Sorry, I kinda lost track of this thread, even thought it was my question. I was just tutoring someone in Physics, and her teacher used x-hat, y-hat, and z-hat. But unit vectors make total sense. Thanks everyone for the replies.
     
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