Vector Calculator (3D)

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Calculator / Last modified by KurtHeckman on 2017/02/16 15:46
Vector Calculator (3D)
k V V x U
U + V The Unit vector of V
U - V The magnitude of V
V * U Angle between V and U
Rotate V around U by α
cartesian (x, y, z) to spherical (ρ, θ, φ)
spherical (ρ, θ, φ) to cartesian (x, y, z)
14 buttons on 1 tabs

The Vector Calculator (3D) computes formulas (e.g. VU and V x U)                 VECTORS in 3D V3 - Cartesian to Spherical.png           Spherical and CartesianV3 - Vector Rotation.png               Vector Rotation for vector arithmetic in three dimensional space.  

3D Vector Calculator Functions: 

  • k V - scalar multiplication
  • U + V - Vector addition
  • U - V - Vector subtraction
  • V * U - Computes the dot product of two vectors
  • V x U - Computes the cross product of two vectors
  • The unit vector of V - Computes the unit vector associated with a vector
  • The magnitude of V - Computes the magnitude of a vector
  • Angle between V and U - Computes the angle between two vectors
  • Rotate V around U by α - Compute the result vector after rotating around an axis.
  • (ρ, θ, φ) to (x,y,z) - Spherical to Cartesian coordinates
  • (x,y,z) to (ρ, θ, φ) - Cartesian to Spherical coordinates

NOTE: This calculator takes 3D vectors in comma separated form (e.g. 3.2, 4.5, 9.2) .  This is to support easy cut/copy/paste between functions.

Related Items:

Dot Product (V • U)

In mathematics, the dot product, or scalar product (or sometimes inner product in the context of Euclidean space), is an algebraic operation that takes two equal-length sequences of numbers (usually coordinate vectors) and returns a single number. This operation can be defined either algebraically or geometrically. Algebraically, it is the sum of the products of the corresponding entries of the two sequences of numbers. V3 - Vector.png          Cartesian (XYZ) Coordinates V3 - V U.png  Two vectors in 3DV3 - V X U.png  Vector Cross ProductV3 - SumDif.png vector addition and subtraction  Geometrically, it is the product of the Euclidean magnitudes of the two vectors and the cosine of the angle between them. The name "dot product" is derived from the centered dot " · " that is often used to designate this operation; the alternative name "scalar product" emphasizes the scalar (rather than vectorial) nature of the result. 

This calculator uses the arc-cosine of the dot product to calculate the angle between two vectors after it has converted the vectors into unit vectors.  Note: the arc-cosine (cosine inverse) of the dot product of two non-unit vectors does not produce the angle between them.

Cross Product   (V x U)

In mathematics, the cross product or vector product is a binary operation on two vectors in three-dimensional space and is denoted by the symbol ×. The cross product a × b of the vectors a and b is a vector that is perpendicular to both and therefore normal to the plane containing them. It has many applications in mathematics, physics, and engineering.

If the vectors have the same direction or one has zero length, then their cross product is zero. More generally, the magnitude of the product equals the area of a parallelogram with the vectors for sides; in particular, for perpendicular vectors, this is a rectangle and the magnitude of the product is the product of their lengths. The cross product is anticommutative (i.e. a × b = −b × a) and is distributive over addition (i.e. a × (b + c) = a × b + a × c). The space and product form an algebra over a field, which is neither commutative nor associative, but is a Lie algebra with the cross product being the Lie bracket.

Like the dot product, it depends on the metric of Euclidean space, but unlike the dot product, it also depends on a choice of orientation or "handedness". The product can be generalized in various ways; it can be made independent of orientation by changing the result to pseudovector, or in arbitrary dimensions the exterior product of vectors can be used with a bivector or two-form result. Also, using the orientation and metric structure just as for the traditional 3-dimensional cross product, one can in n dimensions take the product of n − 1 vectors to produce a vector perpendicular to all of them. But if the product is limited to non-trivial binary products with vector results, it exists only in three and seven dimensions.

Right Hand Convention:  Note that cross product depicted in the diagram has the order of U X V, where U is first.  This diagram shows the right and convention.  Consider placing one's right hand along the first vector in the operation (U in the diagram).  If one then sweeps the hand counter clockwise (normal right hand motion) towards the second vector (V in the diagram), the resulting normal vector (U X V) will be in the direction of one's extended thumb, hence the "Right Hand Convention".

Vector addition and subtraction  (V +/- U)

 The sum of two vectors (V, U) is the vector that results in the sum of the their respective components, such that U + V = (Ux+Vx, Uy+Vy, Uz+Vz).  This can be seen visually (see diagram), by placing the origin of the second vector on the tip of the first. The resulting vector goes from the origin of the first vector and the tip of the second vector.

The difference of two vectors (V, U) is the vector that results in the difference of the their respective components, such that U - V = (Ux-Vx, Uy-Vy, Uz-Vz). This can be seen visually (see diagram), by placing the tip (as opposed to the origin) of the second vector on the tip of the first. The resulting vector goes from the origin of the first vector and the origin of the second vector.

Vector Rotation

A common function in 3D vectors is to perform a rotation about an axis.  This is used in aerospace for things like attitude control in satellites and animation such as where an animated character's gun pointing (e.g. Woody in Toy Story).  This Vector Rotation function uses quaternions to compute the result of the rotation of a vector (V) about an axis defined by another vector (U) for a prescribed angle (α).  This rotation operates according to the "right hand rule".  To understand this, think of the rotation vector (U) as the thumb on your right hand, and your index finger as the vector (V).  The rotation angle is the counter-clockwise motion of your index finger during the rotation.   Thanks to Damon Ostrander and Tom Sathre for their help with the quaternion math.  CLICK HERE for Quaternion Calculator

Spherical Coordinates

In mathematics, a spherical coordinate system is a coordinate system for three-dimensional space where the position of a point is specified by three numbers: the radial distance of that point from a fixed origin, its polar angle measured from a fixed zenith direction, and the azimuth angle of its orthogonal projection on a reference plane that passes through the origin and is orthogonal to the zenith, measured from a fixed reference direction on that plane.

The radial distance is also called the radius or radial coordinate. The polar angle may be called co-latitude, zenith angle, normal angle, or inclination angle.

The use of symbols and the order of the coordinates differs between sources. In one system frequently encountered in physics (ρ, θ, φ) gives the radial distance, polar angle, and azimuthal angle, whereas in another system used in many mathematics books (ρ, θ, φ) gives the radial distance, azimuthal angle, and polar angle. In both systems ρ is often used instead of r. Other conventions are also used, so great care needs to be taken to check which one is being used.

A number of different spherical coordinate systems following other conventions are used outside mathematics. In a geographical coordinate system positions are measured in latitude, longitude and height or altitude. There are a number of different celestial coordinate systems based on different fundamental planes and with different terms for the various coordinates. The spherical coordinate systems used in mathematics normally use radians rather than degrees and measure the azimuthal angle counter-clockwise rather than clockwise[further explanation needed]. The inclination angle is often replaced by the elevation angle measured from the reference plane. Elevation angle of zero is at the horizon.

The spherical coordinate system generalizes the two-dimensional polar coordinate system. It can also be extended to higher-dimensional spaces and is then referred to as a hyperspherical coordinate system.

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See Also


  • Wikipedia -
  • Wikipedia -
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