Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The expression "to unitize a vector" is often use in computational geometry. What does it mean?

share|cite|improve this question
I would guess normalize. But I won't pretend I do any computational geometry whatsoever. – tomasz Jul 1 '12 at 1:23
It is lamentable that different areas of mathematics develop different terms for the same stuff. This just contributes to siloization, which has not been good for the field. – ncmathsadist Jul 1 '12 at 16:52
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yeah, it's a perversion of normalize. If $v\not = 0$, we normalize v as follows $$w = {v\over \|v\|}.$$ Why this ugly neologism is needed is beyond me.

share|cite|improve this answer
To me, "unitize" seems like a better term -- you are modifying the vector to make its length unity. The term "normalize" isn't very descriptive. If a vector has unit length, in what sense is it "normal" ?? If vector's length is different from 1, is it then "abnormal" ?? – bubba Aug 18 '12 at 5:24
Normalize is used in the sense of "standardize", as you might do with a normally distributed random variable to give it zero mean and unit variance. – ncmathsadist Aug 23 '12 at 23:56
I'm guessing they want to distinguish it from "norm", which could have different definitions, but now they have a name conflict with the unit type, which is sort of worse than conflicting with true and false. – Samuel Danielson Mar 1 at 20:46

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.