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In physics, velocity is speed in a given direction. Speed describes only how fast an object is moving, whereas velocity gives both the speed and direction of the object's motion. To have a constant velocity, an object must have a constant speed and motion in a constant direction. Constant direction typically constrains the object to motion in a straight path. A car moving at a constant 20 kilometers per hour in a circular path does not have a constant velocity. The rate of change in velocity is acceleration. Velocity is a vector physical quantity; both magnitude and direction are required to define it. The scalar absolute value (magnitude) of velocity is speed, a quantity that is measured in metres per second (m/s or ms−1) when using the SI (metric) system.

For example, "5 metres per second" is a scalar and not a vector, whereas "5 metres per second east" is a vector. The average velocity v of an object moving through a displacement (Δd) during a time interval (Δt) is described by the formula:


The rate of change of velocity (in m/s) as a function of time (in s) is acceleration (in m/s²) – how an object's speed or direction of travel changes over time, and how it is changing at a particular point in time.