Vectors in 3D
In rectangular xyz space, vectors a and b can be denoted as rays from the origin (0,0,0) to points ( x _{a} , y _{a} , z _{a} ) and ( x _{b} , y _{b} , z _{b} ) as shown in Fig. 69.
Magnitude, Direction, and Sum
Magnitude
The magnitude of a , written  a , can be found by a threedimensional extension of the Pythagorean theorem for right triangles. The formula looks like this:
Direction
The direction of a is denoted by measuring the angles θ _{x} , θ _{y} , and θ _{z} that the vector a subtends relative to the positive x , y, and z axes respectively (Fig. 610).
These angles, expressed in radians as an ordered triple ( θ _{x} , θ _{y} , θ _{z} ), are
the direction angles of a . Sometimes the cosines of these angles are specified. These are the direction cosines of a :
Sum
The sum of vectors a and b is:
a + b = [( x _{a} + x _{b} ), ( y _{a} + y _{b} ), ( z _{a} + z _{b} )]
This sum can, as in the twodimensional case, be found geometrically by constructing a parallelogram with a and b as adjacent sides. The sum a + b is determined by the diagonal of the parallelogram, as shown in Fig. 69.
Multiplication By Scalar and Dot Product
Multiplication By Scalar
In threedimensional Cartesian coordinates, let vector a be defined by the coordinates ( x _{a} , y _{a} , z _{a} ). Suppose a is multiplied by some positive real scalar k. Then the following equation holds:
k a = k ( x , y _{a} , z _{a} ) = ( kx _{a} , ky _{a} , kz _{a} )
If a is multiplied by a negative real scalar –k, then:
– k a = – k ( x _{a} , y _{a} , z _{a} ) = (– kx _{a} , – ky _{a} , – kz _{a} )
Suppose the direction angles of a are represented by ( θ _{x} , θ _{y} , θ _{z} ). The direction angles of ka are also ( θ _{x} , θ _{y} , θ _{z} ). The direction angles of – ka are all increased by 180° (π rad), so they are represented by [( θ _{x} + π), ( θ _{y} + π), ( θ _{Z} + π)]. The same effect can be accomplished by subtracting 180° (π rad) from each of these direction angles.
Dot Product
The dot product, also known as the scalar product and written a · b , of vectors a and b in Cartesian xyz space is a real number given by the formula:
a · b = x _{a} x _{b} + y _{a} y _{b} + z _{a} z _{b}
where a = ( x _{a} , y _{a} , z _{a} ) and b = ( x _{b} , y _{b} , z _{b} ).
The dot product a · b can also be found from the magnitudes  a  and  b , and the angle θ between vectors a and b as measured counterclockwise in the plane containing them both:
a · b = ab cos θ
Cross Product
The cross product, also known as the vector product and written a × b , of vectors a and b is a vector perpendicular to the plane containing a and b . Let θ be the angle between vectors a and b expressed counterclockwise (as viewed from above, or the direction of the positive z axis) in the plane containing them both (Fig. 611). The magnitude of a × b is given by the formula:
 a × b  =  a  b  sin θ
In the example shown, a × b points upward at a right angle to the plane containing both vectors a and b . If 0° < θ < 180° (0 < θ < π), you can use the righthand rule to ascertain the direction of a × b . Curl your fingers in the sense in which θ , the angle between a and b , is defined. Extend your thumb. Then a × b points in the direction of your thumb.
When 180° < θ < 360° (π < θ < 2π), the crossproduct vector reverses direction compared with the situation when 0° < θ < 180° (0 < θ < π). This is demonstrated by the fact that, in the above formula, sin θ is positive when 0° < θ < 180° (0 < θ < π ), but negative when 180° < θ < 360° (π < θ < 2π). When 180° < θ < 360° (π < θ < 2π), the righthand rule doesn’t work. Instead, you must use your left hand, and curl your fingers into almost a complete circle! An example is the cross product b × a in Fig. 611. The angle ø, expressed counterclockwise between these vectors (as viewed from above), is more than 180°.
For any two vectors a and b , the vector b × a is a “mirror image” of a × b , where the “mirror” is the plane containing both vectors. One way to imagine the “mirror image” is to consider that b × a has the same magnitude as a × b , but points in exactly the opposite direction. Putting it another way, the direction of b x a is the same as the direction of a × b , but the magnitudes of the two vectors are additive inverses (negatives of each other). The cross product operation is not commutative, but the following relationship holds:
a × b = –( b × a )

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