The physical quantities which have magnitude, as well as direction attached to them, are known as vectors. Position vectors simply denote the position or location of a point in the three-dimensional Cartesian system with respect to a reference origin.

The concept of section formula is implemented to find the coordinates of a point dividing a line segment internally or externally in a specific ratio. In order to locate the position of a point in space, we require a coordinate system.

If O is taken as reference origin and A is an arbitrary point in space then the vector \(\vec{OA}\) is called as the position vector of the point. Let us consider two points P and Q denoted by position vectors \(\vec{OP}\) and \(\vec{OQ}\) with respect to origin O.

Let us consider that the line segment connecting P and Q is divided by a point R lying on PQ. The point R can divide the line segment PQ in two ways: internally and externally. Let us consider both these cases individually.

Let us consider that the point R divides the line segment PQ in the ratio m: n, given that m and n are positive scalar quantities we can say that,

m\(\overline{RQ}\) = n\(\overline{PR}\)

Consider the triangles, ∆ORQ and ∆OPR.

\(\overline{RQ}\) = \(\overline{OQ}\) – \(\overline{OR}\) = \(\vec{b}\) – \(\vec{r}\) \(\overline{PR}\) = \(\overline{OR}\) – \(\overline{OP}\) = \(\vec{r}\) – \(\vec{a}\)

Therefore,

m(\(\vec{b}\) – \(\vec{r}\)) = n(\(\vec{r}\) – \(\vec{a}\))

Rearranging this equation we get:

\(\vec{r}\) = \(\frac{m\vec{b} + n\vec{a}}{m + n}\)

Therefore the position vector of point R dividing P and Q internally in the ratio m:n is given by:

\(\vec{OR}\) = \(\frac{m\vec{b} + n\vec{a}}{m + n}\)

Let us consider that the point R divides the line segment PQ in the ratio m: n, given that m and n are positive scalar quantities we can say that,

m\(\overline{RQ}\) = -n\(\overline{PR}\)

Consider the triangles, ∆ORQ and ∆OPR.

\(\overline{RQ}\) = \(\overline{OQ}\) – \(\overline{OR}\) = \(\vec{b}\) – \(\vec{r}\) \(\overline{PR}\) = \(\overline{OR}\) – \(\overline{OP}\) = \(\vec{r}\) – \(\vec{a}\)

Therefore,

m(\(\vec{b}\) – \(\vec{r}\)) = -n(\(\vec{r}\) – \(\vec{a}\))

Rearranging this equation we get:

\(\vec{r}\) = \(\frac{m\vec{b} – n\vec{a}}{m – n}\)

Therefore the position vector of point R dividing P and Q internally in the ratio m:n is given by:

\(\vec{OR}\) = \(\frac{m\vec{b} – n\vec{a}}{m – n}\)

What if the point R dividing the line segment joining points P and Q is the midpoint of line segment AB?

In that case, if R is the midpoint, then R divides the line segment PQ in the ratio 1:1, i.e. m = n = 1.The position vector of point R dividing will be given as:

\(\vec{OR}\) = \(\frac{\vec{b} + \vec{a}}{2}\)