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Math Help - Dot Product: Unit Vector & Projections

  1. #1
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    Dot Product: Unit Vector & Projections

    Question 1.

    Find a unit vector that is orthogonal to both i^\rightharpoonup + j^\rightharpoonup and i^\rightharpoonup + k^\rightharpoonup

    My attempt:

     a^\rightharpoonup = <1, 1, 0>

     b^\rightharpoonup = <1, 0, 1>

     a^\rightharpoonup * x^\rightharpoonup = 0

     <1, 1, 0> * <x_1, x_2, x_3> = 0

     x_1 + x_2 = 0

     b^\rightharpoonup * x^\rightharpoonup = 0

     <1, 0, 1> * <x_1, x_2, x_3> = 0

     x_1 + x_3 = 0

    Now I have 3 variables and 2 equations. What do I do?

    Question 2.

    If a^\rightharpoonup = <3, 0, -1>, find a vector b^\rightharpoonup such that comp_{a^\rightharpoonup}b^\rightharpoonup = 2

    My attempt:


     |a^\rightharpoonup| = \sqrt{3^2 + 0^2 + (-1)^2} = \sqrt{10}

     |b^\rightharpoonup|cos\theta = \frac{a^\rightharpoonup * b^\rightharpoonup}{|a^\rightharpoonup|} = 2

     2 = \frac{<3, 0, -1> * <b_1, b_2, b_3>}{\sqrt{10}}

     2 = \frac{3b_1 + (-1)b_3}{\sqrt{10}}


    Once again, I havmore variables than the # of equations. What should I doo?

    Thanks in advance!
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  2. #2
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    If A and B are the vectors, then AXB will be a vector orthogonal to A and B.

    | i j k |
    |11 0|
    |10 1|

    Solve this determinant to get AXB.
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  3. #3
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    By the way, the LaTex \vec{v}, \vec{v}, gives, in my opinion, a better looking vector than v^\rightharpoonup, v^\rightharpoonup, and is simpler.
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    I can't use the cross product to solve this because we have not covered it yet. Is there an alternative method? Thanks! (especially for the LaTex statement).
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilaziz1 View Post
    Question 1.

    Find a unit vector that is orthogonal to both i^\rightharpoonup + j^\rightharpoonup and i^\rightharpoonup + k^\rightharpoonup

    My attempt:

     a^\rightharpoonup = <1, 1, 0>

     b^\rightharpoonup = <1, 0, 1>

     a^\rightharpoonup * x^\rightharpoonup = 0

     <1, 1, 0> * <x_1, x_2, x_3> = 0

     x_1 + x_2 = 0

     b^\rightharpoonup * x^\rightharpoonup = 0

     <1, 0, 1> * <x_1, x_2, x_3> = 0

     x_1 + x_3 = 0

    Now I have 3 variables and 2 equations. What do I do?
    Yes, because the "orthogonal to" determines only about the direction, not the length. You have the third equation \sqrt{x_1^2+ y_1^2+ z_1^2}= 1. Alternatively, take any one of the variables, say x, equal to 1 and solve for the other two. Then normalize to get a unit vector.

    Question 2.

    If a^\rightharpoonup = <3, 0, -1>, find a vector b^\rightharpoonup such that comp_{a^\rightharpoonup}b^\rightharpoonup = 2

    My attempt:


     |a^\rightharpoonup| = \sqrt{3^2 + 0^2 + (-1)^2} = \sqrt{10}

     |b^\rightharpoonup|cos\theta = \frac{a^\rightharpoonup * b^\rightharpoonup}{|a^\rightharpoonup|} = 2

     2 = \frac{<3, 0, -1> * <b_1, b_2, b_3>}{\sqrt{10}}

     2 = \frac{3b_1 + (-1)b_3}{\sqrt{10}}


    Once again, I havmore variables than the # of equations. What should I doo?

    Thanks in advance!
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  6. #6
    MHF Contributor matheagle's Avatar
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    this is from stewart, isn't it.
    the next section has cross products
    Just let X1=1 and the the other two are -1,
    <1,-1,-1> works or it's negative
    NOW divide by the magnitude and you are done.

    \pm{1\over \sqrt{3}}<1,-1,-1>
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  7. #7
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    Wait how can you just plug any number you want in the equation? Doesn't that break all the rules to solving an equation?

    And yea this is from Stewart. Btw, what about Question #2? Can we just plug in w/e the hell we want? If so, whyy?
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilaziz1 View Post
    Wait how can you just plug any number you want in the equation? Doesn't that break all the rules to solving an equation?
    It breaks no rules.
    Consider this: solve <1,1,0>\cdot <a,b,c>=0~\&~<1,0,1>\cdot <a,b,c>=0.

    It is easy to see that if c\ne 0 then <c,-c,-c> solves that system.

    So make a unit vector out of <c,-c,-c>.
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  9. #9
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    Um let's step back in your example.

         <1,1,0>\cdot <a,b,c>=0~\&~<1,0,1>\cdot <a,b,c>=0

    a + b = 0
    a + c = 0

    How do you know which variable to substitute with any number that doesn't equal to 0? If I let b = 1 in the 2 equations above, I get
    <-1, 1, 1>
    and if I let a = 1 I get
    <1, -1, -1>
    and if I let c = 1 I get
    <-1, 1, 1>

    Thus, they are not the same. They have the same magnitude, but not the same direction.

    Am I having a brain fart or am I missing something?

    Thanks a ton btw.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilaziz1 View Post
         <1,1,0>\cdot <a,b,c>=0~\&~<1,0,1>\cdot <a,b,c>=0
    a + b = 0
    a + c = 0
    How do you know which variable to substitute with any number that doesn't equal to 0?
    The point is very simple, it does not matter what non-zero value of c we choose.
    <c,-c,-c> works as long as we make it a unit vector.
    So why not choose c=1?
    It makes thing relatively easy.
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  11. #11
    MHF Contributor matheagle's Avatar
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    THERE are TWO answers,
    there are 2 unit vectors orthogonal to both
    (I assign this problem each year.)
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  12. #12
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    how are you getting <c, -c, -c> ? If you let c = 1 in what equations?

    a + b = 0
    a + c = 0

    If c = 1,
    a + 1 = 0
    a = -1

    (-1) + b = 0
    b = 1

    which equals:
    <-1, 1, 1>

    and you have <c, -c, -c> :\

    Thanks!

    EDIT: Just read matheagle's post

    Okay that makes sense. So it doesn't matter if you let a = 1, b = 1, or c = 1. Right?

    but how is Plato getting <c, -c, -c>
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  13. #13
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    So I was looking through the back of the book and the answer I saw was: <1, -1, -1> * 3^(-1/2).

    I am still confused why we can just plug in any # we want for one of the variables. I mean it's a vector so it doesn't have infinite # of solutions like a line has.
    Last edited by lilaziz1; September 15th 2010 at 12:33 PM.
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  14. #14
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    If A\cdot B=0 then A\cdot (-B)=0.
    So both <c,-c,-c>~\&~<-c,c,c> are perpendicular to <1,0,1>~\&~<1,1,0>.

    BTW: <c,-c,-c>=-<-c,c,c>
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  15. #15
    MHF Contributor matheagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lilaziz1 View Post
    So I was looking through the back of the book and the answer I saw was: <1, -1, -1> * 3^(-1/2).

    I am still confused why we can just plug in any # we want for one of the variables. I mean it's a vector so it doesn't have infinite # of solutions like a line has.
    THERE are an infinite number of vector orthogonal to those two
    BUT there are only two unit vectors that are orthogonal to those two
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