Difference between Speed and Velocity

The difference between speed and velocity

Last Updated on Oct 7, 2019

Difference between Speed and Velocity

Speed & Velocity

This is a common confusion we have seen among our students. And unfortunately, speed and velocity are used interchangeably in questions, leading to further confusion. So, we thought we’d clear it up properly.

Speed is how fast an object is moving. It is calculated by the displacement of space per unit of time. Velocity is the rate at which an object changes position in a certain direction. It is calculated by the displacement of space per unit of time in a certain direction. Velocity deals with direction, while speed does not.

Speed and Velocity

Speed and Velocity

Succinctly put, Velocity is Speed with Direction.

So, it is correct to say “I am traveling with a speed of 30kmph.”

It would be incomplete to say “I am traveling with a velocity of 30kmph.” Instead, the correct statement would be “I am traveling with a velocity of 30kmph towards the North.”

For our purposes – that of common aptitude entrance exams, this much will suffice. There is a whole branch of mathematics called Vector Algebra where there are some very elegant ways to deal with velocity vectors. But that is too advanced for most aptitude tests.

So the next time you see the terms speed and velocity, remember the difference.

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