Vector (mathematics and physics)

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When used without any further description, vector refers either to:

  • Most generally, an element of a vector space
  • In physics and geometry, a Euclidean vector, used to represent physical quantities that have both magnitude and direction

Vector can also have a variety of different meanings depending on context.


  • An element of a vector space
    • An element of the real coordinate space Rn
    • Basis vector, one of a set of vectors (a "basis") that, in linear combination, can represent every vector in a given vector space
    • Column vector or row vector, a one-dimensional matrix often representing the solution of a system of linear equations
    • Coordinate vector, in linear algebra, an explicit representation of an element of any abstract vector space
  • Axial vector, or pseudovector, a quantity that transforms like a vector under proper rotation but not generally under reflection
  • Darboux vector, the areal velocity vector of the Frenet frame of a space curve
  • Displacement vector, a vector that specifies the change in position of a point relative to a previous position
  • Euclidean vector, a geometric entity endowed with magnitude and direction as well as a positive-definite inner product; an element of a Euclidean vector space. In physics, Euclidean vectors are used to represent physical quantities that have both magnitude and direction, such as force, in contrast to scalar quantities, which have no direction.
    • Burgers vector, a vector that represents the magnitude and direction of the lattice distortion of dislocation in a crystal lattice
    • Laplace–Runge–Lenz vector, a vector used chiefly to describe the shape and orientation of the orbit of one astronomical body around another
    • Normal vector, or surface normal, a vector that is perpendicular to a (hyper)surface at a point
    • Vector product, or cross product, an operation on two vectors in a three-dimensional Euclidean space, producing a third three-dimensional Euclidean vector
  • Four-vector, in the theory of relativity, a vector in a four-dimensional real vector space called Minkowski space
  • Gradient vector, the vector giving the magnitude and direction of maximum increase of a scalar field
  • Gyrovector, a hyperbolic geometry version of a vector
  • Interval vector, in musical set theory, an array that expresses the intervallic content of a pitch-class set
  • Null vector, a vector whose magnitude is zero
  • P-vector, the tensor obtained by taking linear combinations of the wedge product of p tangent vectors
  • Position vector, a vector representing the position of a point in an affine space in relation to a reference point
  • Poynting vector, in physics, a vector representing the energy flux density of an electromagnetic field
  • Probability vector, in statistics, a vector with non-negative entries that sum to one
  • Random vector or multivariate random variable, in statistics, a set of real-valued random variables that may be correlated
  • Spin vector, or Spinor, is an element of a complex vector space introduced to expand the notion of spatial vector
  • Tangent vector, an element of the tangent space of a curve, a surface or, more generally, a differential manifold at a given point.
  • The vector part of a quaternion, a mathematical entity that is one possible generalisation of a vector
  • Tuple, an ordered list of numbers, sometimes used to represent a vector
  • Unit vector, a vector in a normed vector space whose length is 1
  • Wave vector, a vector representation of the local phase evolution of a wave

Vector fields[edit]

Vector spaces[edit]

Manipulation of vectors, fields, and spaces[edit]

  • Vector Analysis, a textbook on vector calculus by Wilson, first published in 1901, which did much to standardize the notation and vocabulary of three-dimensional linear algebra and vector calculus
  • Vector bundle, a topological construction that makes precise the idea of a family of vector spaces parameterized by another space
  • Vector calculus, a branch of mathematics concerned with differentiation and integration of vector fields
  • Vector decomposition, a technique to convert a vector of Rn into several vectors, each linearly independent
  • Vector differential, or del, a vector differential operator represented by the nabla symbol \nabla
  • Vector Laplacian, the vector Laplace operator, denoted by \nabla^2, is a differential operator defined over a vector field
  • Vector notation, common notation used when working with vectors
  • Vector operator, a type of differential operator used in vector calculus
  • Vector product, or cross product, an operation on two vectors in a three-dimensional Euclidean space, producing a third three-dimensional Euclidean vector
  • Vector projection, also known as vector resolute or vector component, a linear mapping producing a vector parallel to a second vector
  • Vector-valued function, a mathematical function that maps real numbers to vectors
  • Vectorization (mathematics), a linear transformation that converts a matrix into a column vector

Other uses in mathematics and physics[edit]

  • Vector autoregression, an econometric model used to capture the evolution and the interdependencies between multiple time series
  • Vector boson, a boson with the spin quantum number equal to 1
  • Vector measure, a function defined on a family of sets and taking vector values satisfying certain properties
  • Vector meson, a meson with total spin 1 and odd parity
  • Vector quantization, a quantization technique used in signal processing
  • Vector soliton, a solitary wave with multiple components coupled together that maintains its shape during propagation
  • Vector synthesis, a type of audio synthesis
  • Witt vector, an infinite sequence of elements of a commutative ring

See also[edit]

External links[edit]