# The BIG 4

The kinematic equations are a set of four equations that can be utilized to predict unknown information about an object’s motion if other information is known. The equations can be utilized for any motion that can be described as being either a constant velocity motion (an acceleration of 0 m/s/s) or a constant acceleration motion. They can never be used over any time period during which the acceleration is changing. Each of the kinematic equations include four variables. If the values of three of the four variables are known, then the value of the fourth variable can be calculated. In this manner, the kinematic equations provide a useful means of predicting information about an object’s motion if other information is known. For example, if the acceleration value and the initial and final velocity values of a skidding car is known, then the displacement of the car and the time can be predicted using the kinematic equations. Lesson 6 of this unit will focus upon the use of the kinematic equations to predict the numerical values of unknown quantities for an object’s motion.

The four kinematic equations that describe an object’s motion are:

There are a variety of symbols used in the above equations. Each symbol has its own specific meaning. The symbol d stands for the displacement of the object. The symbol t stands for the time for which the object moved. The symbol a stands for the acceleration of the object. And the symbol v stands for the velocity of the object; a subscript of i after the v (as in vi) indicates that the velocity value is the initial velocity value and a subscript of f (as in vf) indicates that the velocity value is the final velocity value.

Each of these four equations appropriately describes the mathematical relationship between the parameters of an object’s motion. As such, they can be used to predict unknown information about an object’s motion if other information is known.