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Dot products

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by matqkks, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. <h3 class="groups">How can I make something like dot products tangible?
    Are there real life examples where dot products are used?
    This is for motivating students. Aware that we can test for orthogonality.
    Thanks in advance for any replies. Really appreciate anyone taking time out to answer these questions.
  2. DM

    DM New commenter

    Finding the angle between two vectors? You couldn't get more basic than that surely?
  3. LoL

    My thoughts exactly
  4. Is it? do some not just enjoy the topic in the context of maths and problem solving sometimes?
    As stated above, its not a hard topic to find countless examples of but what happens when you need to 'motivate' students with something a little more obscure?
    "We are learning the cosh function so you can see what happens if a seagul sits on a telgraph wire sometime"
    Why not just enjoy some maths for the intrinsic value of proof and manipulation?
  5. adamcreen

    adamcreen Occasional commenter

    Work done = Force . displacement
  6. Well in that case

    Magnetic Flux = (Magnetic Field) . Area
  7. If your students are also interested in computing, then game-physics and ray-tracing use a lot of dot-products, typically in a somewhat more advanced way than you'll see at A-level.
    E.g. A ray has equation x = p + tr. Does it intersect the sphere with equation |x - a| = R, and if so, where?
  8. DM

    DM New commenter

    Electric Flux = (Electric Field) . Area

  9. adamcreen

    adamcreen Occasional commenter

    Well, in that case:

    Aeon Flux = Charlize Theron . Area
  10. LoL

    Now that will excite the OP's students
  11. DM

    DM New commenter

    [​IMG] Are we discussing energy states now?
  12. Piranha

    Piranha Lead commenter

    Maths for its own sake is great, but I see no harm in at least mentioning a use for something even if it is beyond what they will cover at A-level. I don't want to be the sort of mathematician who thinks that a branch of Maths is somehow sullied if an application of it is found. The "why do Maths at A-level" question is often answered with the many careers it is used in. When a student asks "what is the use of this" in a constructive way, I like to be able to give them an answer.
    BTW, thanks for the ideas on the use of dot products. I could only think of a couple myself.
  13. I just say

    Mr RF writes software for computer games ... he uses "insert bit of pure maths" ... always a winner

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