The main difference between distance and offset is that distance is the actual physical length between two points while offset is the length of the shortest path between these two points.
Distance vs. Offset
Distance and displacement are two terms in physics that are used to indicate the length between two locations, points, or objects. Distance is the numerical measure of the actual length between two objects. It is a scalar quantity and is always positive. Whereas displacement is the shortest path between two objects. It is a vector quantity and can be positive, negative, or zero. The SI unit of both distance and displacement is a meter (m).
|The actual length of the path between two points is known as the distance.||The shortest path between two points is known as the offset.|
|It is a scalar quantity.||It is a vector quantity.|
|Provides complete information about the route being followed.||It does not provide any information about the route.|
|Its value is always positive.||Its value can be positive, negative or zero.|
|It does not have a specific route.||It has a unique path.|
|The distance cannot decrease with time||Displacement may decrease over time.|
|S = Velocity × Time||d = Speed × Time|
|It can never be indicated by the arrow.||It can be indicated with the arrow.|
|It can be used to calculate speed.||It can be used to calculate speed.|
What is the distance?
Distance is defined as the numerical quantity that determines the actual length between two points. The total distance can be calculated by adding all the intervals. It only cares about size or magnitude and ignores the direction of the path. So, it is a scalar quantity. The distance is always positive and provides complete information about the path. It always increases with time. It cannot be indicated by drawing an arrow. Distance can be calculated by multiplying the speed of the moving object over time. It is denoted with “S”.
Distance = Velocity × Time or S = v × t
If a person moves from point A 5 m to the right and then 4 m to the left to reach point B, then the total distance can be obtained by adding both intervals, i.e. S = 5 + 4 = 9 Then , the total distance covered by the person is 9 meters.
What is displacement?
Displacement is defined as the length of the shortest path between two points. It is actually changing position and mostly in a straight line. Displacement has to do with both magnitude and direction of the path. So, it is a vector quantity. It does not provide any information about the route and its value can be positive, negative or even zero. It is changing in a position that the route does not matter. So if the position change is zero, the displacement will be zero. A shift to the left is indicated by a negative value, eg -2 m, while a shift to the right is indicated by a positive value, eg 2 m. Displacement can be easily indicated by simply drawing an arrow. Displacement can be counted by multiplying speed and time. It is denoted by “d”
Displacement = speed × time or d = v × t
If a person travels 5 m north and then 5 m south, the displacement will be zero because the same distance but in opposite directions will cancel each other out.
- The distance is the length of the actual path between two points, while the shortest path between these two points is known as the offset.
- The arrow cannot be used to indicate distance, while displacement can be indicated simply by drawing an arrow.
- Distance is a scalar quantity, while displacement is a vector quantity.
- The distance is always positive while the offset can be positive, negative, or even zero.
- “S” is used to denote distance but “ d ” is used to denote displacement.
- Displacement can be measured by multiplying speed and time, while displacement can be found by multiplying speed and time.
- Full route information is given by distance while offset does not provide any route information.
- Speed can be found from distance, while displacement is used to find speed.
From the above discussion, it follows that distance is a scalar quantity to measure the exact space between two points, while offset is a vector quantity to measure the shortest path between these two points.