In relativistic physics, a velocity-addition formula is an equation that specifies how to combine the velocities of objects in a way that is consistent with the requirement that no object's speed can exceed the speed of light. Such formulas apply to successive Lorentz transformations, so they also relate different frames. Accompanying velocity addition is a kinematic effect known as Thomas precession, whereby successive non-collinear Lorentz boosts become equivalent to the composition of a rotation of the coordinate system and a boost.
Standard applications of velocity-addition formulas include the Doppler shift, Doppler navigation, the aberration of light, and the dragging of light in moving water observed in the 1851 Fizeau experiment.
The notation employs u as velocity of a body within a Lorentz frame S , and v as velocity of a second frame S′ , as measured in S , and u′ as the transformed velocity of the body within the second frame.