Welcome to our userfriendly guide on how to find the length and direction of u×v and v×u, also known as the cross product. In this guide, we will explore the fundamental concepts of vectors and scalars, and how they relate to finding the length and direction of the cross product. We will also discuss various methods for representing vectors, determining their magnitude and direction, and performing vector operations. Furthermore, we will delve into the dot product and cross product, and their applications in finding the angle between vectors and orthogonal vectors. We will also touch upon the properties of vector operations and converting vectors between rectangular and polar coordinates. To illustrate these concepts, we will provide an example on finding the magnitude and direction of a resultant force. By the end of this guide, you will have a comprehensive understanding of how to calculate the length and direction of u×v and v×u.
Key Takeaways:
 Vectors have both magnitude and direction, while scalars only have magnitude.
 Vectors can be represented using rays or the i and j unit vectors.
 The magnitude and direction of a vector can be determined by finding its horizontal and vertical components.
 Vectors can be added, subtracted, and multiplied by scalars.
 The dot product is used to find the angle between two vectors, while the cross product is used to find a vector orthogonal to two given vectors.
Understanding Vectors and Scalars
To understand the calculation of the length and direction of cross products, it is crucial to grasp the concepts of vectors and scalars. In physics and mathematics, both vectors and scalars are used to represent quantities. The key difference between them lies in the additional property of direction that vectors possess.
Vectors have both magnitude and direction. Magnitude refers to the size or length of the vector, while direction refers to the orientation or angle at which the vector points. For example, velocity and force are vector quantities as they have both magnitude (e.g., 10 meters per second, 50 newtons) and direction (e.g., north, east). Vectors can be represented visually using arrows, with the length of the arrow indicating the magnitude and the direction of the arrow representing the direction of the vector.
Scalars, on the other hand, only have magnitude and do not possess direction. Examples of scalars include speed, mass, and temperature, which have only magnitude (e.g., 60 miles per hour, 2 kilograms, 25 degrees Celsius) without any associated direction.
Let’s consider an example to illustrate the concept of vectors and scalars. Suppose we have two quantities: distance (a scalar) and displacement (a vector). Distance simply represents the length traveled, while displacement not only specifies the length but also the direction of the travel. If you start from point A and walk 5 miles to the east, your distance traveled is 5 miles. However, your displacement is 5 miles to the east since it includes both the magnitude (5 miles) and the direction (east).
Magnitude and Direction
In the realm of vectors, understanding magnitude and direction is essential. The magnitude of a vector represents its size or length, while the direction indicates its orientation. In mathematical terms, magnitude is typically represented by the absolute value or modulus of the vector, denoted by u. For example, if u is a vector with a magnitude of 10 units, we write u = 10. Direction, on the other hand, is often represented using angles or directional notations such as North or Southwest.
Vector Quantity  Magnitude  Direction 

Velocity  60 mph  North 
Force  50 N  West 
Displacement  5 miles  East 
Representing Vectors
Vectors can be represented in various ways, such as using rays or the i and j unit vectors. A ray is a line segment that starts at a point and extends indefinitely in a particular direction. When representing a vector using a ray, the length of the ray indicates the magnitude of the vector, and the direction of the ray represents the direction of the vector.
The i and j unit vectors, also known as the standard unit vectors, are frequently used to represent vectors in twodimensional Cartesian coordinate systems. The i unit vector represents the vector in the xdirection, while the j unit vector represents the vector in the ydirection. By multiplying the magnitude of the vector by these unit vectors, the vector can be represented as a combination of its horizontal and vertical components.
To better understand the concept, consider the following example:
“A vector v with a magnitude of 5 units and a direction of 30 degrees above the xaxis can be represented as 5i + 5sin(30°)j.”
Representation  Description 

Rays  Use of line segments extending in a specific direction to represent magnitude and direction of vectors. 
i and j Unit Vectors  Representation using the standard unit vectors i and j to indicate horizontal and vertical components of the vector. 
By understanding different ways to represent vectors, such as using rays or the i and j unit vectors, you can effectively visualize and manipulate vectors in various mathematical contexts. This knowledge becomes particularly useful when performing operations on vectors, determining their magnitude and direction, or converting between different coordinate systems.
Next, we will explore how to determine the magnitude and direction of a vector by finding its horizontal and vertical components.
Determining Magnitude and Direction
The magnitude and direction of a vector can be determined by analyzing its horizontal and vertical components. By breaking down the vector into these components, we can calculate its length and the angle it makes with the reference axes.
For example, let’s consider a vector with a horizontal component of a and a vertical component of b. To find the magnitude, we can use the Pythagorean theorem:
Length = sqrt(a^{2} + b^{2})
Similarly, the direction of the vector can be found using trigonometry. We can use the tangent function to calculate the angle:
Angle = arctan(b/a)
To better understand this concept, let’s consider an example:
Consider a vector with a horizontal component of 4 units and a vertical component of 3 units. The magnitude of the vector can be found using the Pythagorean theorem:
Length = sqrt(4^{2} + 3^{2}) = 5 units
Using trigonometry, we can find the direction of the vector:
Angle = arctan(3/4) ≈ 36.87 degrees
Horizontal Component (a)  Vertical Component (b)  Magnitude  Direction 

4  3  5  36.87 degrees 
By analyzing a vector’s horizontal and vertical components, we can calculate its magnitude and direction, which are crucial in various fields such as physics, engineering, and mathematics. Understanding how to determine these properties allows us to accurately describe and work with vectors in a meaningful way.
Vectors can be added, subtracted, and multiplied by scalars to yield new vectors. These operations are fundamental in vector mathematics and are essential for various applications in physics, engineering, and computer graphics.
When adding two vectors, the corresponding components are added together. For example, if we have vector A = [2, 4] and vector B = [1, 3], the sum of the two vectors, A + B, would be [3, 7]. This can be visualized as the tiptotail method, where the tail of the second vector is placed at the tip of the first vector.
Subtracting vectors is similar to adding them, but instead of adding the corresponding components, we subtract them. In the example above, if we subtract vector B from vector A, the result would be [1, 1]. This can be thought of as moving in the opposite direction of the vector being subtracted.
Multiplying a vector by a scalar involves multiplying each component of the vector by the scalar value. For instance, if we multiply vector A by a scalar of 3, the result would be [6, 12]. This operation scales the magnitude of the vector without changing its direction.
Example of Vector Addition:
“Two forces are acting on an object: force A with a magnitude of 10 N in the east direction, and force B with a magnitude of 5 N in the north direction. To find the resultant force, we add these two vectors together.”
Force  Magnitude (N)  Direction 

A  10  East 
B  5  North 
Resultant Force  √(10^2 + 5^2) ≈ 11.18  ∠tan^{1}(5/10) ≈ 26.57° North of East 
The resultant force is approximately 11.18 N and is directed at an angle of approximately 26.57° north of east.
The dot product allows us to calculate the angle between two vectors. It is a mathematical operation that combines the magnitudes and directions of two vectors to produce a scalar value. The dot product is also known as the scalar product or inner product.
To find the dot product of two vectors, we multiply their corresponding components and then sum the products. The result is a single number that represents the cosine of the angle between the vectors, multiplied by the product of their magnitudes.
The formula for calculating the dot product of two vectors u and v is:
u · v = u v cos θ
where u and v are the vectors, u and v are their magnitudes, and θ is the angle between them.
The dot product is useful in various applications, such as determining whether two vectors are orthogonal (perpendicular) or parallel to each other. If the dot product of two vectors is zero, it means they are orthogonal. If the dot product is positive, the vectors are acute (less than 90 degrees) to each other, and if it is negative, the vectors are obtuse (greater than 90 degrees) to each other.
In summary, the dot product allows us to calculate the angle between two vectors by combining their magnitudes and directions. It provides valuable insights into the geometric relationship between vectors and is a fundamental concept in vector mathematics.
Cross Product and Orthogonal Vectors
The cross product helps us find a vector that is perpendicular to two given vectors. This vector is called an orthogonal vector. The cross product is denoted by the symbol “×” and is defined as the product of the magnitudes of the two vectors multiplied by the sine of the angle between them.
The cross product of vectors u and v is given by u × v = u v sin(θ) n, where θ is the angle between u and v, n is the unit vector perpendicular to the plane formed by u and v, and u and v are the magnitudes of u and v, respectively.
Calculating the cross product involves finding the direction of the resulting vector using the righthand rule. The magnitude of the cross product can be calculated using the formula u × v = u v sin(θ). This magnitude represents the area of the parallelogram formed by the two vectors.
It is important to note that the cross product is only defined in threedimensional space. Additionally, the cross product is not commutative, meaning u × v is not equal to v × u. The direction of the cross product is determined by the righthand rule, where the thumb represents the direction of the resulting vector when the fingers of the right hand curl from u to v.
The cross product is a powerful tool in vector mathematics, allowing us to find vectors that are perpendicular to two given vectors. It has numerous applications in physics, engineering, and computer graphics, among other fields.
Table: Properties of the Cross Product
Property  Formula 

Distributive property  u × (v + w) = u × v + u × w 
Anticommutative property  u × v = – (v × u) 
Magnitude of the cross product  u × v = u v sin(θ) 
Properties of Vector Operations
Understanding the properties of vector addition and scalar multiplication is essential for working with vectors effectively. These properties provide important guidelines for manipulating vectors and can simplify complex calculations. Here, we will explore the key properties of vector operations.
Addition Properties
When adding vectors, there are two main properties to consider: commutativity and associativity. The commutative property states that the order of the vectors being added does not affect the result. In other words, u + v = v + u. The associative property states that the grouping of vectors being added does not affect the result. So, for example, (u + v) + w = u + (v + w).
Additionally, the zero vector serves as the additive identity, meaning that adding the zero vector to any vector does not change its value. For any vector v, v + 0 = v. Finally, every vector has an additive inverse, denoted as v, such that v + (v) = 0. The additive inverse of a vector is simply the vector with the same magnitude but opposite direction.
Scalar Multiplication Properties
Scalar multiplication also has important properties. The first property is the distributive property, which states that multiplying a vector by a scalar and then adding it to another vector is the same as adding the two vectors first and then multiplying the sum by the scalar. Mathematically, c(u + v) = cu + cv.
The second property is associativity, which states that multiplying a vector by the product of two scalars is the same as multiplying the vector by each scalar individually and then multiplying the results. So, for example, (cd)v = c(dv).
Finally, the scalar 1 acts as the multiplicative identity, meaning that multiplying any vector by 1 does not change its value. For any vector v, 1v = v.
Addition Properties  Scalar Multiplication Properties 



By understanding and applying these properties, you can simplify vector calculations and gain a better grasp of their behavior. Now, let’s move on to exploring how vectors can be converted between rectangular and polar coordinates.
Vectors can be converted between rectangular and polar coordinates to suit different calculations. Rectangular coordinates represent the vector’s position in terms of its horizontal and vertical components, while polar coordinates represent the vector’s position in terms of its magnitude and direction.
When converting a vector from rectangular to polar coordinates, we can use the following formulas:
Variable  Description  Formula 

r  Magnitude of the vector  r = √(x^{2} + y^{2}) 
θ  Direction of the vector  θ = arctan(y/x) 
Conversely, when converting a vector from polar to rectangular coordinates, we can use the following formulas:
Variable  Description  Formula 

x  Horizontal component of the vector  x = r × cos(θ) 
y  Vertical component of the vector  y = r × sin(θ) 
Understanding how to convert vectors between rectangular and polar coordinates is essential for a wide range of applications in physics, engineering, and mathematics. By having the ability to analyze vectors from different perspectives, we can gain deeper insights and make more accurate calculations. Keep in mind that these conversions are based on mathematical principles, and it’s crucial to use the correct formulas to ensure accurate results.
Let’s walk through an example to understand how to find the magnitude and direction of a resultant force. Imagine a scenario where two forces, F1 and F2, are acting on an object. Force F1 has a magnitude of 20 Newtons and is directed at an angle of 30 degrees with respect to the positive xaxis. Force F2 has a magnitude of 15 Newtons and is directed at an angle of 60 degrees with respect to the positive yaxis.
To find the resultant force, we first need to determine the horizontal and vertical components of each force. For F1, the horizontal component (Fx1) can be calculated using the formula Fx = F * cos(theta), where F represents the magnitude of the force and theta represents the angle with the xaxis. Applying this formula, we get Fx1 = 20 * cos(30) = 20 * 0.866 = 17.32 N. Similarly, the vertical component (Fy1) can be calculated using the formula Fy = F * sin(theta), giving Fy1 = 20 * sin(30) = 20 * 0.5 = 10 N.
For F2, the horizontal component (Fx2) is calculated as Fx2 = 15 * cos(60) = 15 * 0.5 = 7.5 N, and the vertical component (Fy2) is given by Fy2 = 15 * sin(60) = 15 * 0.866 = 12.99 N.
Next, we add up the horizontal components and vertical components separately. The resultant horizontal component (Rx) is found by summing the horizontal components of F1 and F2, i.e., Rx = Fx1 + Fx2 = 17.32 N + 7.5 N = 24.82 N. Similarly, the resultant vertical component (Ry) is calculated by adding the vertical components, yielding Ry = Fy1 + Fy2 = 10 N + 12.99 N = 22.99 N.
Finally, we can find the magnitude and direction of the resultant force using the formula R = sqrt(Rx^2 + Ry^2), where Rx represents the resultant horizontal component and Ry represents the resultant vertical component. Applying this formula, we get R = sqrt(24.82^2 + 22.99^2) = sqrt(615.44 + 529.92) = sqrt(1145.36) = 33.87 N. The angle (theta) between the resultant force vector and the positive xaxis can be found using the formula tan(theta) = Ry / Rx. Substituting the values, we get tan(theta) = 22.99 / 24.82 = 0.926. Taking the inverse tangent, we find theta = 43.10 degrees.
Conclusion
In conclusion, this guide has provided a stepbystep process to find the length and direction of u×v and v×u, enabling you to tackle cross product calculations with confidence.
Throughout this guide, we have discussed the fundamental concepts of vectors and scalars. Vectors possess both magnitude and direction, while scalars only have magnitude. We have explored different ways to represent vectors, such as using rays or the i and j unit vectors.
To determine the magnitude and direction of a vector, we have learned how to find its horizontal and vertical components. We have also explored various vector operations, including addition, subtraction, and scalar multiplication.
The dot product allows us to find the angle between two vectors, while the cross product helps us find a vector that is orthogonal to two given vectors. In addition, we have explored the properties of vector addition and scalar multiplication.
Lastly, we have discussed how to convert vectors between rectangular and polar coordinates. To further illustrate the concepts covered, an example was provided, showing how to find the magnitude and direction of a resultant force.
With the knowledge gained from this guide, you now have a solid understanding of how to find the length and direction of u×v and v×u. Apply these techniques confidently in your cross product calculations and achieve accurate results.
FAQ
What is the difference between a vector and a scalar?
A vector has both magnitude and direction, while a scalar only has magnitude.
How can vectors be represented?
Vectors can be represented using rays or by using the i and j unit vectors.
How can the magnitude and direction of a vector be determined?
The magnitude and direction of a vector can be determined by finding its horizontal and vertical components.
What operations can be performed with vectors?
Vectors can be added, subtracted, and multiplied by scalars.
What is the dot product used for?
The dot product is used to find the angle between two vectors.
What is the cross product used for?
The cross product is used to find a vector orthogonal to two given vectors.
What are the properties of vector addition and scalar multiplication?
The properties of vector addition and scalar multiplication are discussed, exploring their characteristics and behaviors.
How can vectors be converted between rectangular and polar coordinates?
Vectors can be converted between rectangular and polar coordinates using specific formulas and calculations.
Can you provide an example of finding the magnitude and direction of a resultant force?
Yes, an example is provided to demonstrate the process of finding the magnitude and direction of a resultant force.
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