## Key difference - distance vs. displacement

Distance and displacement are two terms used to describe a path between two given points. There are many routes that one can take to get to a particular point from another particular point. In each case there is a certain path which is the shortest path between the two given points. Distance and displacement refer to the movement of an object moving from one point to another, or the position of a particular point relative to another point. Literally, both "distance" and "displacement" convey the same idea. But in physics, “distance” and “displacement” cannot be used interchangeably. They have specific and different meanings. The **main difference** between distance and displacement is that **distance is a scalar quantity, while displacement is a vector quantity.**

## What is distance

The distance is a scalar quantity. Hence it is only of an order of magnitude . There are an infinite number of ways to get to a particular point from another particular point. The following graphic shows three such paths between O and A. All three paths start at point O and end at point A. Path 1, however, has the shortest possible distance between point O and A. The shortest path between any two given points is a straight line segment . The distance of any other path is longer than path 1 and depends on the path. In the graph given, the distance from path 2 is greater than that of path 1. But it is smaller than the distance from path 3.

Ex:

The distance from O to A via path 1 is 10 m.

The distance from O to A via path 2 is 15 m.

The distance from O to A via path 3 is 20 m.

The distance of a body moving from O to A via path 3 and then returned to point O via path 2 is 35 m. (20m + 15m = 35m)

The rate of change in displacement of a moving object is called its velocity .

## What is repression?

The shift is a vector quantity . The amount of displacement is equal to the shortest distance between two given points. In the graphic above, the shortest path from point O to point A is given by path 1. It is a straight line segment. So the shift is equal to the length of the OA line segment. The amount of displacement of an object moved from O to A is the same over every path, regardless of the path. In any case, it is important to indicate the direction when expressing a displacement, since it is a vector quantity.

Ex:

The size of the shift over path 1 is 10 m, the direction is 30 ^{0} from north to east.

The size of the shift over path 2 is 10 m, the direction is 30 ^{0} from north to east.

The size of the shift over path 3 is 10 m, the direction is 30 ^{0} from north to east.

The amount of displacement of a body that moves from O to A via path 3 and then returned to point O via path 2 is zero (10 m-10 m = 0 m)

The rate of change in displacement of a moving object is called its velocity .

## Difference between distance and displacement

### Type of crowd:

**Distance :** Distance is a scalar quantity; it is only of an order of magnitude.

**Displacement : The** displacement is a vector quantity; it also has a size and a direction.

### SI unit:

**Distance : The** distance can be measured in meters (m).

**Displacement : The** displacement can be measured in meters (m).

### Units:

**Distance : The** distance can be measured in mm, cm, m, km, miles, light years, etc.

**Displacement :** Displacement can be measured in mm, cm, m, km, miles, light years, etc.

### Reference point:

**Distance :** A reference point is not used to measure the distance.

**Displacement : The** distance is measured in relation to a reference point.

### Signature:

**Distance :** Distance has positive values.

**Shift : The** shift can be positive or negative.

### Other features:

**Distance :** The distance between two given points is always greater than or equal to the displacement.

**Displacement :** The amount of displacement from a given point to another point is the shortest distance between the two points.

### Distance and displacement of an object that has returned to its starting point:

**Distance :** The **distance covered** by an object corresponds to the length of the path covered. So it is greater than or equal to 0m.

**Displacement :** The amount of displacement of the object is zero (0 m).

### **Dependence on the way**

**Distance : The** distance depends on the path.

**Shift : The** shift does not depend on the path. It depends on the start and end point.