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National Junior College Mathematics Department 2016

National Junior College


2015 2016 H2 Mathematics

Topic 15: Vectors II (Lines and Planes)


Key questions to answer:
Part 1:
1. What is a vector equation of a line in 3D space?
-

How do we find a vector equation of a line?


What is the geometrical significance of each of the vectors in a vector equation of a line?
How do we convert a vector equation of a line into a Cartesian equation and vice versa?

2.

How do we verify whether a point lies on a line or not?

3.

How do we determine if two lines are


- intersecting,
- parallel, or
- skew?

4.

How do we find the point(s) of intersection of two intersecting lines?


-

How many point(s) of intersection can two intersecting lines have?

Part 2:
5. What is a vector equation of a plane in 3D space?
-

How do we find a
o vector equation (parametric form),
o vector equation (scalar-product form) and
o Cartesian equation
of a plane?
What is the geometrical significance of each of the vectors in a vector equation of a plane?
How do we convert a vector equation of a plane into a Cartesian equation and vice versa?

6.

How do we verify whether a point lies on a plane or not?

7.

How do we determine if a line lies on, is parallel to, or intersects a plane?


-

8.

How do we determine whether two planes are parallel or intersecting?


-

9.

How many point(s) of intersection is/are there between the line and the plane for each of the above cases?
How do we find the point(s) of intersection between a line and a plane?

How many points of intersection are there between the two planes for each of the above cases?
How do we find the points of intersection between two planes?

How do we determine the relationship among three planes?


- How many point(s) of intersection is/are there among three planes?
-

How do we find the common point(s) of intersection among three planes?

Part 3:
10. How do we find the acute angle between
- two lines?
- a line and a plane?
- two planes?

Vectors II

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National Junior College Mathematics Department 2016

11. How do we find the


- foot of perpendicular, and
- perpendicular distance
from a point to a line?
12. How do we find the
- foot of perpendicular, and
- perpendicular distance
from a point to a plane?
Part 1:
1

Equations of a Line

1.1

Vector Equation of a Line

For self-reading prior to lecture


Recall that in the topic of Cartesian Geometry, we learnt that the equation of any non-vertical
straight line in the Cartesian plane can be expressed as
y = mx + c,
where m is the gradient of the line and c is the y-intercept of the line. For example, for the line
y = 0.5x + 2, the gradient of the line is 0.5 and the y-intercept is (0, 2), as shown in the diagram
below:

Now suppose we let x = , then we can form a pair of parametric equations for the line as follows:

y 0.5

x
Since we can represent every variable point (x, y) on the line by its position vector , we can
y
rewrite the above pair of parametric equations as a vector equation as follows:
Vectors II

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National Junior College Mathematics Department 2016

y 0.5 2
x 1 0

y 0.5 2
x
1 0

y
0.5 2
0
1
,
2
0.5
0
1
Now, let us consider the significance of the vectors and in the line y = 0.5x + 2.
2
0.5
0
Clearly, the vector corresponds to the position vector of a fixed point with coordinates (0, 2) on
2
the line.
1
The vector is parallel to the line (since for every 1 unit to the right, we take 0.5 unit upward,
0.5
1
which gives rise to a gradient of 0.5). Hence we call a direction vector of the line.
0.5
Considering (*), for every real value of the parameter , we generate the position vector of a point
on the line. For example, when = 1,
x 0 1 1

y 2 0.5 2.5
gives us the position vector of another point (1, 2.5) on the line, as shown in the diagram below:

0
Hence the position vector of every point on the line is the vector sum of and a scalar multiple
2
1
of the vector , as illustrated in the diagram below.
0.5
Vectors II

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National Junior College Mathematics Department 2016

In 3D, we are unable to specify an axial intercept or a gradient of the line. We hence use vector
fomulations (as above with position vector of a fixed point on the line and the direction vector of
the line) to construct vector equations for a line, as follows:
Consider a line l parallel to a vector m and passing through a fixed point A with position vector a

relative to an origin O (i.e. OA a ).


A
x

m
Let R be a variable point (x, y, z) on the line with position vector r y
z
R


a
(i.e. OR = r). Then r OA AR a m, .
line l
Every point on l has position vector (w.r.t. O) given by a + m for some
real value of . Each value of corresponds to one point on l. Hence,

r
O

Vector equation of line l: r a m,

Example 1.1.1
Find a vector equation of the line l that passes through A 2, 5, 1 and has a direction vector
m i j 2k .

Solution:
Let P be any point on the line l.
2


If OP r and OA 5 ,
1

Then a vector equation for l, passing through A
and with the direction m is r = a + m,

2
1


r 5 1 , .
1
2


Vectors II

line l

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