a branch of mathematics that deals with quantities that have both magnitude and direction. Some physical and geometric quantities, called scalars, can be fully defined by specifying their magnitude in suitable units of measure. Thus, mass can be expressed in grams, temperature in degrees on some scale, and time in seconds. Scalars can be represented graphically by points on some numerical scale such as a clock or thermometer. There also are quantities, called vectors, that require the specification of direction as well as magnitude. Velocity, force, and displacement are examples of vectors. A vector quantity can be represented graphically by a directed line segment, symbolized by an arrow pointing in the direction of the vector quantity, with the length of the segment representing the magnitude of the vector
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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Cite This Source