Vectors and basic vector algebra

Vectors are useful math constructs that simplify how we need to deal with many physical quantities like velocity and force, which will be discussed in detail in the next chapter. You've already met vectors informally, when you dealt with velocity components. Let's now see what we were really doing.

What are vectors?

Vectors can be most intuitively illustrated using the example of displacements. The concept of displacement will be covered in detail in Chapter 4, but essentially it refers to movement for a given distance and in a given direction. Here is an example.

Suppose that Bug, the ladybug, is crawling on a piece of graph paper. Bug starts at the origin and crawls for a distance of 10 units; then he stops. ...

Get The Essential Guide to Physics for Flash Games, Animation, and Simulations now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.