We use vectors to describe how different forces work together. They can be thought of as measures of "shared contribution" to a specific goal, usually a speed or distance traveled.
For instance, consider a boat traveling across a stream. The boat would be pushed straight across by the motor, but the current of the stream would be pushing it sideways to that motion, so the result would be a diagonal direction. In this example, the push of the motor and the push of the current would each be a vector, resulting in the diagonal travel direction.
Vector calculations can be used in a vast number of different situations, to combine or separate different contributions to a total.
This chapter is a reasonably in-depth exploration of the uses of vectors. The information begins with a study of 2-dimensional vectors and the calculation of midpoint and location in a 2-dimensional plane, and progresses through similar topics in 3-dimensions.
Students are later introduced to dot-products and cross-products and the uses for each, and the associated applications of scalar and vector projections.
The last few lessons cover the calculation of the distance of a plane from the origin, and the vector equation of a line, before summing up with examples of vector analysis in real-world situations.