College Physics for AP® Courses

Glossary

College Physics for AP® CoursesGlossary

air resistance
a frictional force that slows the motion of objects as they travel through the air; when solving basic physics problems, air resistance is assumed to be zero
analytical method
the method of determining the magnitude and direction of a resultant vector using the Pythagorean theorem and trigonometric identities
classical relativity
the study of relative velocities in situations where speeds are less than about 1% of the speed of light—that is, less than 3000 km/s
commutative
refers to the interchangeability of order in a function; vector addition is commutative because the order in which vectors are added together does not affect the final sum
component (of a 2-d vector)
a piece of a vector that points in either the vertical or the horizontal direction; every 2-d vector can be expressed as a sum of two vertical and horizontal vector components
direction (of a vector)
the orientation of a vector in space
the end point of a vector; the location of the tip of the vector's arrowhead; also referred to as the “tip”
a method of adding vectors in which the tail of each vector is placed at the head of the previous vector
kinematics
the study of motion without regard to mass or force
magnitude (of a vector)
the length or size of a vector; magnitude is a scalar quantity
motion
displacement of an object as a function of time
projectile
an object that travels through the air and experiences only acceleration due to gravity
projectile motion
the motion of an object that is subject only to the acceleration of gravity
range
the maximum horizontal distance that a projectile travels
relative velocity
the velocity of an object as observed from a particular reference frame
relativity
the study of how different observers moving relative to each other measure the same phenomenon
resultant
the sum of two or more vectors
resultant vector
the vector sum of two or more vectors
scalar
a quantity with magnitude but no direction
tail
the start point of a vector; opposite to the head or tip of the arrow
trajectory
the path of a projectile through the air
vector
a quantity that has both magnitude and direction; an arrow used to represent quantities with both magnitude and direction
the rules that apply to adding vectors together
velocity
speed in a given direction