Before we try to find the answer for what is vector addition and how it is used, it is important to understand the basic concept of vector addition. Following is the example that is used to understand the concept of vector and vector addition.

Ever thought what is the difference between temperature and speed of the wind? The major difference between the two is that the speed of the wind is determined based on its direction and how fast it is. Whereas for temperature there is no direction but only magnitude. Therefore, we can conclude that there are two quantities: scalar quantity and vector quantity.

Scalar and vector quantity

• Scalar quantity can be defined as the quantity which is explained only based on the magnitude. Examples of a scalar quantity are temperature, density, volume, resistance.
• Vector quantity can be defined as the quantity which is explained based on direction and magnitude. Examples of vector quantity are velocity, acceleration, force, displacement.

Let us try to define what is vector before getting to vector addition. Vector is defined as a quantity that has both magnitude and direction. Vector addition is defined as the addition of two more vectors together to get a vector sum. Following are the different ways to do vector addition:

• Parallelogram law of vector addition: When two vector quantities are represented by two adjacent sides of a parallelogram then the diagonal of the parallelogram will be equal to the resultant of these two vectors.
• Triangle law of vector addition: When two vectors are represented by two sides of the triangle, the third side of the triangle will be equal to the resultant of the other two vectors.
• Polygon law of vector addition: When more vectors are represented by the side of the polygon, the missing vector that is used to close the polygon is the resultant vector of all the other vectors.