So, I’ve covered parametric lines already. Another form in which we can write equations for lines using linear algebra is implicit form.

The parameter in the parametric form of a line was a scalar \(\mathtt{k}\). We built the parametric form using a position vector to get us to a starting point on the line. Then we added this to the product of the slope vector and the parameter \(\mathtt{k}\) to get all the other points on the line. The implicitness of the implicit form comes from the fact that we build the equation using the slope vector and a vector perpendicular to the slope vector.

I mentioned back here that perpendicular vectors always have a dot product of 0. So, thinking of \(\mathtt{x-p}\) as the (slope) vector of our line, then \(\mathtt{a \cdot (x-p) = 0}\). With the actual values shown here, we have \[\begin{bmatrix}\mathtt{-1}\\\mathtt{\,\,\,\,3}\end{bmatrix} \cdot \begin{bmatrix}\mathtt{3}\\\mathtt{1}\end{bmatrix}\mathtt{ = (-1)(3) + (3)(1) = 0}\] If we know one point \(\mathtt{x}\) on the line, then the dot product equation is true for any \(\mathtt{p}\) and identifies a unique line. Let’s represent all the parts here as vectors, and more generally. \[\begin{bmatrix}\mathtt{a_1}\\\mathtt{a_2}\end{bmatrix} \cdot (\begin{bmatrix}\mathtt{x_1}\\\mathtt{x_2}\end{bmatrix} \mathtt{- }\begin{bmatrix}\mathtt{p_1}\\\mathtt{p_2}\end{bmatrix}) \mathtt{\,\,= 0 \rightarrow a_1x_1 + a_2x_2 + (-a_1p_1 – a_2p_2) = 0}\]

What’s cool about this equation is that we are all familiar with its form, \(\mathtt{ax_1 + bx_2 + c = 0}\), so long as we let \(\mathtt{a = a_1, b = a_2,}\) and \(\mathtt{c = -a_1p_1 – a_2p_2}\). This is what is called the general form or standard form of a linear equation. Even more interesting is that the coefficients in this form help to describe a vector perpendicular to the line.

Knowing the above and \(\mathtt{y:=x_2}\), we can write the equation for the line at the right as \[\mathtt{4x+3y-(4)(-5)-(3)(6)=0}\] And then, working out that c-value, we get \(\mathtt{4x + 3y + 2 = 0}\). The vector a = (4, 3), which we can rewrite as the ratio –4 : 3, describes the slope of the line.

Now we can easily slide back and forth between linear algebra and plain old current high school algebra with certain linear equations.