triple scalar product

The triple scalar product of three vectors is defined in 3 as


The determinantMathworldPlanetmath above is positive if the three vectors satisfy the right-hand rule and negative otherwise. Recall that the magnitude of the cross productMathworldPlanetmath of two vectors is equivalentMathworldPlanetmathPlanetmathPlanetmathPlanetmath to the area of the parallelogramMathworldPlanetmath they form, and the dot productMathworldPlanetmath is equivalent to the productPlanetmathPlanetmath of the projection of one vector onto another with the length of the vector projected upon. Putting these two ideas together, we can see that

|a(b×c)|=|b×c||a|cosθ=baseheight=Volume of parallelepiped

Thus, the magnitude of the triple scalar product is equivalent to the volume of the parallelepipedMathworldPlanetmath formed by the three vectors. It follows that the triple scalar product of three coplanarMathworldPlanetmath or collinear vectors is then 0. When we keep the sign of the volume, we preserve orientation.


View SVGTripleScalarProduct.svg

Note that there is no rigid motionMathworldPlanetmath, barring reflection, that will allow you to move/rotate the left parallelepiped so that the respective vectors coincide. This is the sense of orientation that is used in differential geometryMathworldPlanetmath.

Identities related to the triple scalar product:

  • (A×B)C=(B×C)A=(C×A)B

  • A(B×C)=-A(C×B)

The latter is implied by the properties of the cross product.

Given a metrizable manifold M, the scalar n-product of an ordered list of n vectors (v1,v2,,vn) corresponds to the signed n-volume of the n-paralleletope spanned by the vectors and is calculated by:


where is the Hodge star operator and is the exterior product. Note that this simply corresponds to the determinant of the list in n-dimensional Euclidean space.

Title triple scalar product
Canonical name TripleScalarProduct
Date of creation 2013-03-22 11:59:24
Last modified on 2013-03-22 11:59:24
Owner slider142 (78)
Last modified by slider142 (78)
Numerical id 15
Author slider142 (78)
Entry type Definition
Classification msc 47A05
Classification msc 46M05
Classification msc 11H46
Synonym scalar triple product
Synonym determinant in R^3
Related topic DotProduct
Related topic CrossProduct