What Are The 3 Elements Of A Vector?

The elements of a vector are the direction, the distance and the modulus. In mathematics, physics, and engineering, a vector is a geometric object that has a magnitude (or length) and direction. According to vector algebra, vectors can be added to other vectors.

The three elements of a vector

A vector is what is needed to get from point A to point B. Vectors play an important role in physics: the speed and acceleration of a moving object and the forces acting on it can be described with vectors.

Many other physical qualities can be thought of as vectors. The mathematical representation of a physical vector depends on the coordinate system used to describe it.

There are several classes of vectors, among them we can find sliding vectors, collinear vectors, concurrent vectors, position vectors, free vectors, parallel vectors and coplanar vectors, among others.

Elements of a vector

Mainly a vector has three elements: the direction, the sense, and the module.

A vector is an entity that has both magnitude and direction. Examples of vectors include displacement, velocity, acceleration, and force. To describe one of these vector quantities, it is necessary to find the magnitude and the direction.

For example, if the speed of an object is 25 meters per second, then the description of the speed of the object is incomplete, since the object may be moving 25 meters per second to the south, or 25 meters per second to the north, or 25 meters per second southeast.

In order to fully describe the speed of an object, both must be defined: both the magnitude of 25 meters per second, as well as the direction, such as south.

For such descriptions of vector quantities to be useful, it is important for everyone to agree on how the direction of the object is described.

Most people are used to the idea that east direction refers to a map if you look to the right. But this is a mere convention that mapmakers have used for years so that everyone can agree.

So what is the direction of a vector quantity that is not heading north or east but somewhere between north and east? For these cases it is important that there is a convention to describe the direction of said vector.

This convention is referred to as the CCW. Using this convention we can describe the direction of any vector in terms of its angle of rotation to the left.

Using this convention, the north direction would be 90 °, since if a vector is pointing east it would have to be rotated 90 ° to the left direction to reach the north point.

Also, the west direction would be located at 180 °, since a west-pointing vector would have to be rotated 180 ° to the left to point to the west point.

In other words, the direction of a vector will be represented through a line contained in the vector or any line that is parallel to it,

It will be determined by the angle formed between the vector and any other reference line. That is, the direction of the line that is in the vector or some line parallel to it is the direction of the vector.


The sense of the vector refers to the element that describes how point A goes to end B:

The direction of a vector is specified by the order of two points on a line parallel to the vector, as opposed to the direction of the vector which is specified by the relationship between the vector and any reference line and / or plane.

Both orientation and direction determine the direction of a vector. Orientation tells what angle the vector is at, and sense tells where it is pointing.

The direction of the vector only establishes the angle that a vector makes with its horizontal axis, but that can create ambiguity since the arrow can point in two opposite directions and still make the same angle.

The sense clears up this ambiguity and indicates where the arrow is pointing or where the vector is heading.

Somehow the sense tells us the order in which to read the vector. Indicates where the vector begins and ends.


The modulus or amplitude of a vector can be defined as the length of the segment AB. The module can be represented through a length that is proportional to the value of the vector. The modulus of a vector will always be zero, or in other cases some positive number.

In mathematics, the vector will be defined by its Euclidean distance (modulus), direction, and sense.

Euclidean distance, or Euclidean distance, is the ‘ordinary’ distance in a straight line between two points located in Euclidean space. With this distance, the Euclidean space becomes metric space.

A Euclidean distance between two points, for example P and Q, is the distance between the line segment connecting them:

The position of a point in a Euclidean space n is a vector. Thus, P and Q are vectors, starting from the origin of space and their points indicating two points.

The Euclidean norm, magnitude, or Euclidean distance of a vector measures the length of that vector.


  1. Vector direction. Recovered from physicsclassroom.com.
  2. What is the sense of a vector? Recovered from physics.stackexchange.com.
  3. What’s the difference between direction, sense, and orientation? Recovered from math.stackexchange.com.
  4. Euclidean distance. Recovered from wikipedia.org.

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