Vector-valued function

A vector-valued function is a mathematical function that maps real numbers onto vectors. Vector-valued functions can be defined as:
*mathbf{r}(t)=f(t)mathbfhat{i}+g(t)mathbfhat{j} or
*mathbf{r}(t)=f(t)mathbfhat{i}+g(t)mathbfhat{j}+h(t)mathbfhat{k}where "f"("t"), "g"("t") and "h"("t") are functions of the parameter "t", and mathbfhat{i}, mathbfhat{j}, and mathbfhat{k} are unit vectors. r("t") is a vector which has its tail at the origin and its head at the coordinates evaluated by the function.

The vector shown in the graph to the right is the evaluation of the function near "t"=19.5 (between 6π and 6.5π; i.e., somewhat more than 3 rotations). The spiral is the path traced by the tip of the vector as t increases from zero through 8π.

Vector functions can also be referred to in a different notation:
*mathbf{r}(t)=langle f(t), g(t) angle or
*mathbf{r}(t)=langle f(t), g(t), h(t) angle

The comma-delimited items within angle-brackets in the notation above is a representation of a column matrix. This notation implies multiplication by a row matrix which consists of unit vectors::mathbf{r}(t)=f(t)mathbfhat{i}+g(t)mathbfhat{j}=egin{bmatrix} mathbfhat{i} ~~ mathbfhat{j}end{bmatrix}cdotegin{bmatrix} {f(t)}\ {g(t)}\end{bmatrix}.

The row matrix is usually omitted (to be inferred by the reader). The function may thus be written in the following shorthand::mathbf{r}(t)=egin{bmatrix} {f(t)}\ {g(t)}\end{bmatrix}.


The domain of a vector-valued function is the intersection of the domain of the functions f, g and h.

ee also

*Vector field
*Parametric surface
*Position vector
*Bochner integral

External links

* [ Vector-valued functions and their properties (from Lake Tahoe Community College)]
*MathWorld | urlname=VectorFunction | title=Vector Function
* [ Everything2 article]
* [ 3 Dimensional vector-valued functions (from East Tennessee State University)]

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