Vector Resolution

As mentioned earlier in this lesson, any vector directed at an angle to the horizontal (or the vertical) can be thought of as having two parts (or components). That is, any vector directed in two dimensions can be thought of as having two components. For example, if a chain pulls upward at an angle on the collar of a dog, then there is a tension force directed in two dimensions. This tension force has two components: an upward component and a rightward component. As another example, consider an airplane that is displaced northwest from O’Hare International Airport (in Chicago) to a destination in Canada. The displacement vector of the plane is in two dimensions (northwest). Thus, this displacement vector has two components: a northward component and a westward component.

In this unit, we learn two basic methods for determining the magnitudes of the components of a vector directed in two dimensions. The process of determining the magnitude of a vector is known as vector resolution. The two methods of vector resolution that we will examine are

·         the parallelogram method

·         the trigonometric method

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