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Three-Dimensional Geometry

Direction cosines (d.c.s) of a line:


d.c.s of a line are the cosines of angles made by the line with the positive
direction of the coordinate axes.
If l, m, and n are the d.c.s of a line, then l
2
+ m
2
+ n
2
= 1
d.c.s of a line joining two points P (x
1
, y
1
, z
1
) and Q (x
2
, y
2
, z
2
) are
2 1 2 1 2 1
, ,
PQ PQ PQ
x x y y z z
, where PQ =
2 2 2
2 1 2 1 2 1
( ) ( ) ( ) x x y y z z + +
Direction ratios (d.r.s) of a line:
d.r.s of a line are the numbers which are proportional to the d.c.s of the
line.
d.r.s of a line joining two points P (x
1
, y
1
, z
1
) and Q (x
2
, y
2
, z
2
) are given by
x
1
x
2
, y
1
y
2
, z
1
z
2
or x
2
x
1
, y
2
y
1
, z
2
z
1
.
If a, b, and c are the d.r.s of a line and l, m, and n are its d.c.s, then

l m n
a b c
= =

2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
, , and
a b c
l m n
a b c a b c a b c
= = =
+ + + + + +

Equation of a line through a given point and parallel to a given
vector:
Vector form: Equation of a line that passes through the given point whose
position vector is a

and which is parallel to a given vector b

is
r a b = +


, where is a constant.
Cartesian form:
Equation of a line that passes through a point (x
1
, y
1
, z
1
) having d.r.s as
a, b, c is given by
1 1 1
x x y y z z
a b c

= =
Equation of a line that passes through a point (x
1
, y
1
, z
1
) having d.c.s as l,
m, n is given by
1 1 1
x x y y z z
l m n

= =
Equation of a line passing through two given points:
Vector form: Equation of a line passing through two points whose position
vectors are a

and b

is given by ( ) r a b a = +


, where e R
Cartesian form: Equation of a line that passes through two given points
(x
1
, y
1
, z
1
) and (x
2
, y
2
, z
2
) is given by,



1 1 1
2 1 2 1 2 1
x x y y z z
x x y y z z

= =


Two lines in space are said to be skew lines, if they are neither parallel nor
intersecting. They lie in different planes.
Angle between two skew lines is the angle between two intersecting lines drawn
from any point (preferably from the origin) parallel to each of the skew lines.
Angle between two Non-skew lines:
Cartesian form:
If l
1
, m
1
, n
1
, and l
2
, m
2
, n
2
are the d.c.s of two lines and u is the acute
angle between them, then
1 2 1 2 1 2
cos l l mm n n u = + +
If a
1
, b
1
, c
1
and a
2
, b
2
, c
2
are the d.r.s of two lines and u is the acute
angle between them, then
1 2 1 2 1 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 2 2 2
cos
.
a a bb c c
a b c a b c
u
+ +
=
+ + + +

Vector form: If u is the acute angle between the lines
1 1
r a b = +


and
2 1
r a b = +


, then
1 2
1 2
cos
b b
b b
u

=


Two lines with d.r.s a
1
, b
1
, c
1
and a
2
, b
2
, c
2
are
perpendicular, if
1 2 1 2 1 2
0 a a bb c c + + =
parallel, if
1 1 1
2 2 2
a b c
a b c
= =
Shortest Distance between two skew lines: The shortest distance is the
line segment perpendicular to both the lines.
Vector form: Distance between two skew lines
1 1
r a b = +


and
2 2
r a b = +


is given by,
1 2 2 1
1 2
( ) ( ) b b a a
d
b b

=




Cartesian form: The shortest distance between two lines
1 1 1 2 2 2
1 1 1 2 2 2
and
x x y y z z x x y y z z
a b c a b c

= = = = is given by,
2 1 2 1 2 1
1 1 1
2 2 2
2 2 2
1 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 1
( ) ( ) ( )
x x y y z z
a b c
a b c
d
b c b c c a c a a b a b

=
+ +




The shortest distance between two parallel lines
1
r a b = +


and
2
r a b = +


is
given by,
2 1
( ) b a a
d
b

=



Equation of a plane in normal form:
Vector form: Equation of a plane which is at a distance of d from the
origin, and the unit vector n normal to the plane through the origin is
. r n d =

, where r

is the position vector of a point in the plane


Cartesian form: Equation of a plane which is at a distance d from the origin
and the d.c.s of the normal to the plane as l, m, n is lx + my + nz = d
Equation of a plane perpendicular to a given vector and passing
through a given point:
Vector form: Equation of a plane through a point whose position vector
is a

and perpendicular to the vector N

is ( ).N = 0 r a


, where r

is the
position vector of a point in the plane
Cartesian form: Equation of plane passing through the point (x
1
, y
1
, z
1
) and
perpendicular to a given line whose d.r.s are A, B, C is

1 1 1
A( ) B( ) C( ) 0 x x y y z z + + =
Equation of a plane passing through three non-collinear points:
Cartesian form: Equation of a plane passing through three non-collinear
points (x
1
, y
1
, z
1
), (x
2
, y
2
, z
2
), and (x
3
, y
3
, z
3
) is
1 1 1
2 1 2 1 2 1
3 1 3 1 3 1
0
x x y y z z
x x y y z z
x x y y z z

=


Vector form: Equation of a plane that contains three non-collinear points
having position vectors , , a b

and c

is ( ) ( ) ( ) 0 r a b a c a
(
=


, where
r

is the position vector of a point in the plane


Intercept form of the equation of a plane: Equation of a plane having x, y,
and z intercepts as a, b, and c respectively i.e., the equation of the plane that cuts
the coordinate axes at (a, 0, 0), (0, b, 0), and (0, 0, c) is given by,
1
x y z
a b c
+ + =
Planes passing through the intersection of two planes:
Vector form: Equation of the plane passing through intersection of two
planes
1 1
. r n d =

and
2 2
. r n d =

is given by,
1 2 1 2
.( ) r n n d d + = +

, where is a non-zero constant



Cartesian form: Equation of a plane passing through the intersection of
two planes
1 1 1 1
A B C D 0 x y z + + + = and
2 2 2 2
A B C D 0 x y z + + + = is given
by,
1 1 1 1 2 2 2 2
(A B C D ) (A B C D ) 0 x y z x y z + + + + + + + = , where is a non-
zero constant
Co-planarity of two lines
Vector form: Two lines
1 1
r a b = +


and
2 2
r a b = +


are co-planar, if

2 1 1 2
( ) ( ) 0 a a b b =



Cartesian form: Two lines
1 1 1
1 1 1
x x y y z z
a b c

= = and
2 2 2
2 2 2
x x y y z z
a b c

= = are co-planar, if
2 1 2 1 2 1
1 1 1
2 2 2
0
x x y y z z
a b c
a b c

=
Angle between two planes: The angle between two planes is defined as the
angle between their normals.
Vector form: If u is the angle between the two planes
1 1
r n d =

and
2 2
r n d =

, then
1 2
1 2
cos
n n
n n
u

=



Note that if two planes are perpendicular to each other, then
1 2
. 0 n n =

; and if
they are parallel to each other, then
1
n

is parallel to
2
n

.
Cartesian form: If u is the angle between the two planes
1 1 1 1
A B C D 0 x y z + + + = and
2 2 2 2
A B C D 0 x y z + + + = , then
1 2 1 2 1 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 2 2 2
A A B B C C
cos
A B C A B C
u
+ +
=
+ + + +

Note that if two planes are perpendicular to each other, then
1 2 1 2 1 2
A A BB CC 0 + + = ; and if they are parallel to each other,
then
1 1 1
2 2 2
A B C
A B C
= =
Distance of a point from a plane:
Vector form: The distance of a point, whose position vector is a

, from the
plane r n d =

is d a n

.
Note:



If the equation of the plane is in the form of N r d =

, where N

is the
normal to the plane, then the perpendicular distance is
N
N
a d

.
Length of the perpendicular from origin to the plane N r d =

is
N
d
.
Cartesian form: The distance from a point (x
1
, y
1,
z
1
) to the plane Ax + By
+ Cz + D = 0 is
1 1 1
2 2 2
A B C D
A B C
x y z + + +
+ +
.
Angle between a line and a plane: The angle | between a
line r a b = +


and the plane r n d =

is the complement of the angle between
the line and the normal to the plane and is given by
1
sin
b n
b n
|


=