# What are unit vectors used for and how?

• Sep 19th 2011, 03:54 AM
astroidea
What are unit vectors used for and how?
So I've been trying to understand the purpose of unit vectors. I know it's to convert the magnitude of a vector to 1. The purpose of it is supposedly to find direction.

But why does the unit vector find direction? How does converting a vector to have a magnitude of 1 give you information about the direction?
• Sep 19th 2011, 04:02 AM
Plato
Re: What are unit vectors used for and how?
Quote:

Originally Posted by astroidea
So I've been trying to understand the purpose of unit vectors. I know it's to convert the magnitude of a vector to 1. The purpose of it is supposedly to find direction.

But why does the unit vector find direction? How does converting a vector to have a magnitude of 1 give you information about the direction?

That is simply false.

Unit vectors are used to set a standard.
Much like the number one on a number line.
They set one standard unit of length.
• Sep 19th 2011, 04:08 AM
astroidea
Re: What are unit vectors used for and how?
So is it basically a counting tool for vectors of a given direction? So that you know the unit magnitude of each dimension of a vector for a given direction? Why is this useful?
• Sep 19th 2011, 04:28 AM
Plato
Re: What are unit vectors used for and how?
Quote:

Originally Posted by astroidea
Why is this useful?

I point you to the topic directional derivatives.