Difference Between Distance and Displacement (Tabular Form)

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Wanna know what is the difference between distance and displacement? If yes, then you are at the very right place at the very right time…!!!

The primary difference between distance and displacement is that distance is the total path covered by a body during its motion and displacement is the shortest path covered by a body during its motion.

Not to mention, both of them are used to specify the length between the two locations. However, they are totally opposite to each other.

In this exclusive article, we will talk about so many distance and displacement differences. But, before going into a deep discussion, let me give you a brief review of the two in a tabular form. Let’s dive right in…!!!

 

Distance vs Displacement

 DistanceDisplacement
1.Distance is the total path covered by a body during its motion.Displacement is the shortest path covered by a body during its motion
2.Distance is a scalar quantity. It has magnitude but no directionDisplacement is a vector quantity. It has both magnitude and direction.
3.It is path-dependent i.e it changes according to the path taken.It is not path-dependent i.e it does not change according to the path taken.
4.The value of the distance is always positive.The value of displacement can be negative, positive, or even zero.
5.Distance never decreases over time.In some special cases, displacement can decrease over time
6.It is denoted by “d”.It is denoted by “s”.
7.The S.I unit of distance is meter.The S.I unit of displacement is meter.
8.The formula for distance is Distance(d) = Speed(s) × Time (t).The formula for displacent is Displacement(s) = Velocity(v) ×Time(t).
From the above difference between distance and displacement in tabular form, you got the exact overview of these two. However, in order to get to know them, let us try to understand both of them in a detailed format. Keep reading!

 

What is Distance?

By definition, Distance is nothing but the total path covered by a body during its motion. One can also say that the distance is the actual length of a path taken by a body from one point to another. See the image below for proper understanding.

distance-and-displacement-difference
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Simply speaking, it tells us that how much of a path a body has covered during its motion. And, since it is a scalar quantity, therefore, as a result, to calculate distance, there is no need to consider the direction of its motion.

The S.I unit of distance is meter. And, it is denoted by “d”. Just because it is a scalar quantity, there is no need to indicate it with an arrow.

 

Properties of Distance

There can be so many properties of distance. Some of them are listed below:

  • Distance is a scalar quantity.
  • Distance is path-dependent.
  • The distance between two points is always positive.
  • Distance is symmetric, etc.

 

What is Displacement?

By definition, Displacement is nothing but the shortest path covered by a body during its motion. One can also say that displacement is the shortest length of a path taken by a body from one point to another.

Simply speaking, it tells us that how far out of place a body is from its original position. And, since it is a vector quantity, therefore, as a result, to calculate displacement, the direction of the motion has to be considered.

The S.I unite of displacement is meter. And, it is denoted by “s”. Just because it is a vector quantity, displacement is always indicated with an arrow.

 

Properties of Displacement

There can be so many properties of displacement. Some of them are listed below:

  • Displacement is a vector quantity.
  • Displacement is path-independent.
  • The displacement between two points can be negative, positive, or, zero.
  • Displacement is anti-symmetric, etc.

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I am a mechanical engineer by profession. Just because of my love for fundamental physics, I switched my career, and therefore I did my postgraduate degree in physics. Right now I am a loner (as ever) and a Physics blogger too. My sole future goal is to do a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, especially in the field of cosmology. Because in my view, every aspect of physics comes within the range of cosmology. And I love traveling, especially the Sole one.

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