## Problem on finding the distance from a point to a line Consider the point $\bfx_0 = (x_0, y_0)$ and the line given by $\bfn \cdot \bfx = 0$, where $\bfn = (a, b)$. Show that the minimum distance from $\bfx_0$ to the line $\bfn\cdot\bfx=0$ is $\frac{\left |\bfn\cdot \bfx_0 \right|}{\left| \bfn \right| }$.  • ## Solution Recall that The nearest point on a line can be found by dropping down a line segment perpendicular to the line. The minimum distance to the line is the length of this line segment. Visually, this line segment is:   The length of this dropped-down perpendicular segment equals the absolute value of the component of $\bfx_0$ along a vector perpendicular to the line $\bfn\cdot\bfx = 0$: Our strategy is to find a perpendicular vector to the line. We then compute the component of $\bfx_0$ along that vector. Recall that Hence, the line consists of precisely the points that are perpendicular to $\bfn$. That is, $\bfn$ is a normal vector to the line. Our picture is now:   Recall that Because the component of $\bfx_0$ along $\bfn$ may be negative, the distance to the line is the absolute value of the component: $$\frac{\left |\bfn\cdot \bfx_0 \right|}{\left| \bfn \right| }.$$