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Maths

Vectors - Higher

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A vector describes a movement from one point to another.

# Vector notation

A vector quantity has both direction and magnitude (size).

(In contrast a scalar quantity has magnitude only - eg, the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4...)

For example this arrow represents a vector. The direction is given by the arrow, while the length of the line represents the magnitude.

This vector can be written as: , a, or .

In print, a is written in bold type. In handwriting, the vector is indicated by putting a squiggle underneath the letter:

Question

Write down the 3 ways to describe the vector if the arrow is now pointing from B to A.

Remember that the arrow describes the direction. So, in this case, the vector is from B to A. If we move 'backwards' along a vector, it becomes negative, so a becomes -a. Moving from B to A entails moving 3 units to the left, and 4 down.

So the three ways to write this vector are:

, -a and

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