If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:5:49

Vector intro for linear algebra

Video transcript

A vector is something that has both magnitude and direction. Magnitude and direction. So let's think of an example of what wouldn't and what would be a vector. So if someone tells you that something is moving at 5 miles per hour, this information by itself is not a vector quantity. It's only specifying a magnitude. We don't know what direction this thing is moving 5 miles per hour in. So this right over here, which is often referred to as a speed, is not a vector quantity just by itself. This is considered to be a scalar quantity. If we want it to be a vector, we would also have to specify the direction. So for example, someone might say it's moving 5 miles per hour east. So let's say it's moving 5 miles per hour due east. So now this combined 5 miles per are due east, this is a vector quantity. And now we wouldn't call it speed anymore. We would call it velocity. So velocity is a vector. We're specifying the magnitude, 5 miles per hour, and the direction east. But how can we actually visualize this? So let's say we're operating in two dimensions. And what's neat about linear algebra is obviously a lot of what applies in two dimensions will extend to three. And then even four, five, six, as made dimensions as we want. Our brains have trouble visualizing beyond three. But what's neat is we can mathematically deal with beyond three using linear algebra. And we'll see that in future videos. But let's just go back to our straight traditional two-dimensional vector right over here. So one way we could represent it, as an arrow that is 5 units long. We'll assume that each of our units here is miles per hour. And that's pointed to the right, where we'll say the right is east. So for example, I could start an arrow right over here. And I could make its length 5. The length of the arrow specifies the magnitude. So 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And then the direction that the arrow is pointed in specifies it's direction. So this right over here could represent visually this vector. If we say that the horizontal axis is say east, or the positive horizontal direction is moving in the east, this would be west, that would be north, and then that would be south. Now, what's interesting about vectors is that we only care about the magnitude in the direction. We don't necessarily not care where we start, where we place it when we think about it visually like this. So for example, this would be the exact same vector, or be equivalent vector to this. This vector has the same length. So it has the same magnitude. It has a length of 5. And its direction is also due east. So these two vectors are equivalent. Now one thing that you might say is, well, that's fair enough. But how do we represent it with a little bit more mathematical notation? So we don't have to draw it every time. And we could start performing operations on it. Well, the typical way, one, if you want a variable to represent a vector, is usually a lowercase letter. If you're publishing a book, you can bold it. But when you're doing it in your notebook, you would typically put a little arrow on top of it. And there are several ways that you could do it. You could literally say, hey 5 miles per hour east. But that doesn't feel like you can really operate on that easily. The typical way is to specify, if you're in two dimensions, to specify two numbers that tell you how much is this vector moving in each of these dimensions? So for example, this one only moves in the horizontal dimension. And so we'll put our horizontal dimension first. So you might call this vector 5, 0. It's moving 5, positive 5 in the horizontal direction. And it's not moving at all in the vertical direction. And the notation might change. You might also see notation, and actually in the linear algebra context, it's more typical to write it as a column vector like this-- 5, 0. This once again, the first coordinate represents how much we're moving in the horizontal direction. And the second coordinate represents how much are we moving in the vertical direction. Now, this one isn't that interesting. You could have other vectors. You could have a vector that looks like this. Let's say it's moving 3 in the horizontal direction. And positive 4. So 1, 2, 3, 4 in the vertical direction. So it might look something like this. So this could be another vector right over here. Maybe we call this vector, vector a. And once again, I want to specify that is a vector. And you see here that if you were to break it down, in the horizontal direction, it's shifting three in the horizontal direction, and it's shifting positive four in the vertical direction. And we get that by literally thinking about how much we're moving up and how much we're moving to the right when we start at the end of the arrow and go to the front of it. So this vector might be specified as 3, 4. 3, 4. And you could use the Pythagorean theorem to figure out the actual length of this vector. And you'll see because this is a 3, 4, 5 triangle, that this actually has a magnitude of 5. And as we study more and more linear algebra, we're going to start extending these to multiple dimensions. Obviously we can visualize up to three dimensions. In four dimensions it becomes more abstract. And that's why this type of a notation is useful. Because it's very hard to draw a 4, 5, or 20 dimensional arrow like this.