Speed, velocity, distance, displacement, and acceleration are some physical quantity terms that can describe motion. Sir Isaac Newton was the first to give a proper description of motion. All of these quantities are described in terms of a single parameter: time. The average velocity, as well as its mathematical and graphical representations, are discussed here.

Definition of Average Velocity

The ratio of the sum of quantities to the total number of quantities is the word average. A distinct method is used in physics. Before we look into average velocity, it’s important to understand what velocity and speed are and how they’re related.

The change in location of an object concerning time is referred to as its speed. On the other hand, Velocity is defined as the speed of an item in relation to its travel direction.

We’ll go over the differences between speed and velocity in more detail later, but for now, let’s focus on average velocity.

According to the Average Velocity definition, it is the ratio of an object’s displacement from point a to point b to the time it took to make that displacement from point a to point b. It’s worth noting that we use the term “movement” rather than “distance” to emphasise direction.

An average velocity is defined algebraically as v = d/t

To find the average velocity, divide the entire displacement by the total time elapsed, as shown below.

VA = [(y0+Δy) −y0)/ΔtΔt]

where y0 is an object’s position at time t, and (y0+ y) is its position in the same direction after time has been increased by Δt.

When we use  Δt→0 as the limit, the average velocity becomes dy/dt at time t, which becomes instantaneous velocity.

When an object’s velocity changes at different moments, the average velocity is calculated by dividing the entire sum of all the velocities at different periods by the total time. If an item has distinct velocities v1, v2, v3, vn at times t = t1, t2, t3, tn, then the average velocity is,

va = [v1+v2+v3……+vn]/ n

The following is an example of average velocity in a distance-time graph:

A complete study on average velocity

Average Velocity vs. Average Speed

Only the object’s displacement is considered while calculating average velocity. The magnitude of the displacement, on the other hand, may differ from the actual path length. As a result, we use average speed to characterise the rate of motion along a path.

The overall path length travelled divided by the total time interval of motion yields the average speed. The average speed, unlike average velocity, is a scalar quantity. Because average speed does not indicate motion direction, it is always positive.

Velocity as a vector quantity

“The rate at which an object changes its position,” says Velocity, a vector quantity. Consider a person who takes one stride forward and one step back at a rapid pace, always returning to the same starting place. While this would cause a frenzy of activity, it would also result in zero velocity.

The motion would never change position because the person always returns to their previous posture. This motion has zero velocity because velocity is defined as the rate at which the location changes.

If a person in motion wants to increase their speed, they must make every effort to increase the distance they are displaced from their starting location. Every step must be taken to move that person further away from their starting point.

The quantity of velocity is a vector quantity. As a result, velocity is aware of its direction. When calculating an object’s velocity, it’s important to maintain track of its direction.

Average Velocity Formula

Average velocity is calculated by subtracting the average value of a set of velocities. The average velocity of an object is its displacement over time. To calculate an object’s average speed, divide the distance travelled by the time elapsed. We know that velocity is a vector quantity and that dividing displacement by time yields the average velocity.

The units for velocity can be deduced from its definition, such as meters per second (the standard SI unit) or any distance unit multiplied by any time unit.

If the velocity of a body varies continuously over some time, determining the average velocity of that object to gain an idea of its whole journey can be highly useful.

Mathematical average velocity

Vav is the one who gives it. Total displacement and total time is taken for that displacement are included in the average velocity formula.

We utilise the formula below for any coordinates xi and xf and their associated time intervals ti and tf that are specified.

Vav = xf−xi/tf−ti

Where xi = Initial position,

xf = Final position,

tf –ti = time interval

Average angular velocity

So far, we’ve only talked about average velocities in the context of linear motions, that is, things moving away from or towards a fixed point in a straight line. However, understanding circular motion is directed, the datum will be referred to as angular speed.

When is the average velocity zero?

There is no overall automobile displacement, for example, if a remote-controlled car races from Point A to Point B and back to Point A. The car’s speed, but not its velocity, can be measured in this scenario. There is obvious displacement in a given direction if the same car drives from Point A to Point B and stays there.

In such instances, it can be quantified. Simply said, average velocity is the average speed multiplied by the direction. Because the total displacement is 0 when a trip begins and ends at the same location, the average velocity is also zero.

Quick Questions

1. What is the definition of average velocity?

The change in position or displacement divided by the time intervals in which the displacement occurs is the average velocity.

2. How is it possible for average velocity to be zero?

Because the total displacement is 0 when a trip begins and ends at the same location, the average velocity is also zero.

3. Is it possible for the average velocity to be zero?

Depending on the sign of the displacement, the average velocity can be positive or negative.

4. Is the average velocity a scalar or a vector?

Average velocity is a vector quantity.

5. What method can be used to determine average velocity?

We need to divide the entire displacement by the total time elapsed to get the average velocity.


Thoroughly read this article to get a clear idea regarding average velocity. Use the formula to solve questions regarding this concept and answer other questions with ease.


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