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1.Basic Cartesian coordinate system and Vectors
2. Line
3. Plane

In this article, topics are covered in an increasing sense of difficulty. Every
topic has been explained in both the cartesian system as well in vector
notation, with the purpose that both approaches should be clear,and
application of an approach depends on which approach makes the given
problem easier. Approach for derivation of a formula is given for better

Basic Cartesian Coordinate system and Vectors

Distance Formula
Distance between the points P(x1, y1, z1) and Q (x2, y2, z2) =Magnitude of vector from
P(R1) to Q(R2)
|R2 R1| = (x1 x2)2 + (y1 y2)2 + (z1 z2)2

Section Formula
The point dividing the line joining P(x1, y1, z1)=P and Q(x2, y2, z2)=Q in m: n ratio is
R3 =S(x3,y3,z3)=[ (mx2 + nx1)/(m + n), (my2 + ny1)/(m + n), (mz2 + nz1)/(m + n)] where m +
n 0.
R3 = (mx2 + nx1)/(m + n) i +(my2 + ny1)/(m + n) j + (mz2 + nz1)/(m + n) k

Parallelity and Perpendicularity of Vectors

If vector V is parallel to vector R then V = K R where K is a real number.

If vector V is perpendicular to vector R then V . R = 0

Direction Cosines and Direction Ratios

Direction Cosines
The angles , , and made by the line segment OP with the coordinate axis are the
direction angles & cosines of these angles are the direction cosines of the line. Hence,
cos , cos and cos are called as the Direction Cosines and are usually denoted
by l, m and n.
l = cos

m = cos

n = cos

Any vector can be represented in terms of direction cosines as:

R = |R| cos i + |R| cos j + |R| cos k
Taking modulus on both sides, we can infer that
|R| = |R| ( l2 + m2 + n2)

l2 + m2 + n2 = 1

Direction Ratios
Three numbers which are proportional to the direction cosines of a line are called as the
direction ratios. Hence, if a, b and c are the direction ratios and l, m, n are the dcs
then, we must have

a/l = b/m = c/n.

Points on Direction Cosines and Direction Ratio

A line can have two sets of Direction cosines according to its direction.

The direction cosines of two parallel lines are always the same.

Direction ratios are proportional to direction cosines and hence for a given line,
there can be infinitely many direction ratios.

Equation of Line in Vector and Cartesian Form

If a line passes through point P(x1, y1, z1) = P and is parallel to a vector B equation of
the line is :

In Vector form

Where R (x,y,z) is the position vector of point on line ,K is any
arbitrary real number.

Every value of K corresponds to a unique point on the line.

Argument for deriving equation:
( R - P ) is a vector joining 2 points on the same line. Thus it is parallel to the line i.e
( R - P ) || B
So, ( R - P ) = K B

Cartesian Form/Symmetric Form

(X-X1)/a = (Y-Y1)/b = (Z-Z1)/c

where (a,b,c) are the direction ratios of the line
Two Point Form

If the line passes through 2 points P(x1, y1, z1) and Q (x2, y2, z2) then the equation of line
passing through those 2 points is
Vector Form

R = P + K (Q P)
Cartesian/Symmetric Form:

( X - X1 ) / ( X 2 X 1 ) = ( Y Y 1) / ( Y 2- Y 1 ) = ( Z- Z 1 ) / (
Z 2 Z 1)

Angle Between Two Lines

Let be the angle between two straight lines AB and AC whose direction cosines are
given by l1, m1, n1and l2, m2, n2 respectively. Then the angle between the lines AB and
AC is given by

cos = l1l2 + m1m2 + n1n2.

if the direction ratios of the two lines are a 1, b1, c1and a2, b2, c2, then the angle between
the two lines is given by

cos =(a1a2+ b2b1+ c1c2) / [(a12 + b12 + c12) .(a22 + b22 + c22)]

Suppose lines AB and AC are parallel to vectors B and C angle

between AB and AC is given by

cos =(B . C ) / |B| |C|

Condition of parallelism (different forms)

cos =1
l1/l2 = m1/m2 = n1/n2
a1/a2 = b1/b2 = c1/c2.
Condition of perpendicularity (different forms)

cos = 0
l1l2 + m1m2 + n1n2 = 0
a1a2 + b1b2 + c1c2 = 0.

Perpendicular distance of a point from a line

Let AB Line
Point A (a, b, c) = A on line AB
Direction Cosines of AB ->( l, m, n )

AP = | AP |

AN is the projection of AP on the given line

So, AN = | AP.L | where L is the unit vector parallel to the line

PN = (AP2 AN2) by Pythagoras Theorem

This is how perpendicular distance PN of point P from a Line is calculated.

Skew Lines
Non-intersecting non-parallel lines are called skew lines.

Shortest Distance Between 2 Lines

Intersecting Lines
Distance = 0 as lines intersect at a common point.

Parallel Lines
Both lines are parallel and along a certain unit vector V.
Let A be a point on line 1 and B on line 2.
Thus perpendicular distance between them is the component of (B A) along V.
So, Distance=

Skew Lines

| (B A ) x V |

Let unit vectors parallel to both lines be B1 and B2.

Let A be position vector of point on line 1 and C on line 2.
For skew lines the perpendicular distance is the length of the line segment
perpendicular to unit vectors parallel to both lines ,thus being parallel to ( B1 X B2 )
Thus perpendicular distance between them is the component of (C A) along
( B1 X B2 ).
Distance between 2 skew lines =

| (C A) . ( B1 X B2 ) |

In Cartesian CoordinatesC(x1 , y1 , z1) and A (x2 , y2 , z2) and l1, m1, n1 and l2, m2, n2 are the direction cosines of B1
and B2
Distance =


Equation of plane in Normal form

In a plane , segments joining any 2 points on the plane are always perpendicular to
normal of the plane.
If 2 Vectors are orthogonal, their dot product is 0.
Thus by this argument ,
Vector Equation of plane is:

R is position vector of any point on the plane
A is position vector of any known point on plane
N is the unit normal vector to the plane
Cartesian Form :
Equation of plane in Cartesian form is

In this equation A , B , C are the Direction Ratios of the normal to the plane.

where L,M,N are the Direction Cosines of the normal line to the plane and P is the
perpendicular distance of the plane from the origin.

Equation of plane through 3 Points

The equation of the plane passing through three non-collinear points (x 1, y1, z1),
(x2, y2, z2) and (x3, y3 , z3) is


Intercept Form
The equation of the plane whose intercepts are a, b, c on the x, y, z axes respectively is

x / a + y / b + z / c = 1 (a, b, c 0)

Angle Between 2 Planes

Let the direction cosines of normals of both planes be l 1,m1,n1 and l2,m2,n2
Angle between two planes =Angle between two normals


cos = | l1l2 + m1m2 + n1n2 |



the acute angle between the planes.

Where a1,b1,,c1 & a2,b2,,c2 are Direction Ratios of normal

Angle Between a Line and Plane

If angle between normal and plane is

, then angle between line and normal is /2 .

So , for a plane ax+by+cz+d=0 and a line with direction cosines l ,m ,n

cos(/2 )=sin =|( al + bm + cn )/ a2 + b2 + c2|

Distance of Point from a Plane

Derivation Outline
Let P be a plane with normal N and distance of point B(x,y,z)=B is to be calculated from
the plane.
A(a,b,c) be position vector of foot of perpendicular on the plane from B
Thus required distance is AB.
The vector (B A) parallel to the normal as both are perpendicular to the plane.
So, the equation of the line through A and B can be found out using point form
mentioned earlier.
Point A lies both on the plane and line. Thus the co-ordinates of A can be found out ,
thus finding out | B A | = AB = Required Distance
Final expression for the expression is as follows:
Perpendicular Distance of point (x, y, z) from Plane

= |ax + by + cz + d / a2 + b2 + c2|