# distance from a point to plane

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Question: Given the plane normal and a point on the plane(eg. P1), explain the process needed to determine how far another point P3 - with coordinates (r,s,t) - is from the plane. Why is P1 mentioned in this question? isnt it the minimum distance from P3 to the plane they want? Im confused with all this.. anyone care to explain so a dummy can understand? :)

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plane_(mathematics)

In a three-dimensional space, another important way of defining a plane is by specifying a point and a normal vector to the plane.

things like this are easy to find, please do so.

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A normal just defines which direction a plane is facing. However there are an infinite number of planes facing that same direction. Think of the (interior) walls of your house. All the north walls face the same direction, as do all the south/east/west walls. So how do you narrow down which wall you're talking about when you say "the north-facing wall"? You chose a point, and say that you're interested in the north-facing wall that goes through that point (such as the breaker box). Then you know exactly which wall you're talking about. Point P1 behaves the same way and narrows down the exact plane facing a particular direction.

The math will reveal the same fact, I just wanted to explain it in words :)

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hmm.. still confused.. am I onto something here?;

n = [a,b,c]
D = |n * P3-P1| / |n|
= |a(x - r) + b(y – s) + c(z – t)| / Sqrt(a² + b² + c²)
= |ax + by + cz – ar – as – ct| / Sqrt(a² + b² + c²)
= |-d – ar – as – ct| / Sqrt(a² + b² + c²)
= |ar + as + ct + d| / Sqrt(a² + b² + c²)

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That seems right. I usually require normal vectors to have length 1, because it simplifies things so much.

#include <iostream>#include <cmath>struct Point {  double x,y,z;    Point(double x, double y, double z) : x(x), y(y), z(z) {  }};struct Vector {  double x,y,z;    Vector(double x, double y, double z) : x(x), y(y), z(z) {  }};double dot(Vector const &v, Vector const &w) {  return v.x*w.x+v.y*w.y+v.z*w.z;}Vector operator-(Point const &p, Point const &q) {  return Vector(p.x-q.x, p.y-q.y, p.z-q.z);}// We assume normal is a unit vectorstruct Plane {  Point point;  Vector normal;    Plane(Point const &point, Vector const &normal)    : point(point), normal(normal) {  }};double distance(Point const &point, Plane const &plane) {  Vector diff = point-plane.point;  return std::fabs(dot(diff, plane.normal));}int main() {  Point point(10,0,0);  Plane plane(Point(18,6,0), Vector(.8,.6,0));    std::cout << distance(point, plane) << '\n';}

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