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Algebraically, it is generated by applying the rules of vectors and coordinate geometry to a space with four dimensions. In particular a vector with four elements (a 4-tuple) can be used to represent a position in four-dimensional space. The space is a Euclidean space, so has a metric and norm, and so all directions are treated as the same: the additional dimension is indistinguishable from the other three.

In modern physics, space and time are unified in a four-dimensional Minkowski continuum called spacetime, whose metric treats the time dimension differently from the three spatial dimensions (see below for the definition of the Minkowski metric/pairing). Spacetime is not a Euclidean space .