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Well, on my homework I had these two questions, but got a bit confused about what they are asking, and whether my answer is right or not.

  1. What is the sign of the displacement if you are moving away from the origin?
  2. What is the sign of the displacement if you are moving toward from the origin?

My thoughts are that for both questions the signage would be positive as the magnitude of the displacement will always be positive, since the lower limit (I think) is equal to 0.

Am I right, or is the signage differ for the displacement depending on if you move away/towards from the origin?

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Are you living in $\mathbb{R}$? –  copper.hat Sep 12 '12 at 21:59
    
@copper.hat, what? I'm only in a high school physics. –  Link Sep 12 '12 at 22:43
    
Sorry! I meant to ask are you dealing with a one-dimensional problem! –  copper.hat Sep 12 '12 at 23:11
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Displacement is the final position vector minus the initial position vector. In one dimension, the sign of the displacement indicates direction since we identify $e_1=1$ or $\hat{i}=1$. However, in two or more dimensions the sign is insufficient to give direction.

Let's consider one dimension. If you move left from the origin then the displacement is negative, whereas right motion starting from the origin gives positive displacement.

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