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# Unit Vectors

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### #1Anonymous Poster_Anonymous Poster_*  Guests

Posted 17 October 1999 - 11:06 AM

I've read a bunch of on-line 3D graphics tutorials and each keeps referring to the concept of unit vectors. Now I know what a unit vector is and how to make a vector into a unit vector. My questions is, for what purposes do you NEED to use unit vectors and when don't you need to use them (i.e. translations, rotations, plane-line intersection, etc)?

### #2mhkrause  Members

Posted 17 October 1999 - 11:06 AM

You usually use a unit vector to avoid a division by the vector magnitude, since a unit vector has a magnitude of 1.

For example, if we were to define a directional light as a vector, v, and a vertex with normal, n, the light intensity at the vertex would be (v . n)/(|v|*|n|). If |v| and |n| are both equal to one (they are unit vectors), we could omit the costly divide, and just calculate light as v . n.

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