I'm taking a course in differential geometry, and have here been introduced to the wedge product of two vectors defined (in Differential Geometry of Curves and Surfaces by Manfredo Perdigão do Carmo) by:

Let $\mathbf{u}$, $\mathbf{v}$ be in $\mathbb{R}^3$. $\mathbf{u}\wedge\mathbf{v}$ in $\mathbb{R}^3$ is the unique vector that satisfies:

$(\mathbf{u}\wedge\mathbf{v})\cdot\mathbf{w} = \det\;(\mathbf{u}\;\mathbf{v}\;\mathbf{w})$ for all $\mathbf{w}$ in $\mathbb{R}^3$

And to clarify, $(\mathbf{u}\;\mathbf{v}\;\mathbf{w})$ is the 3×3 matrix with $\mathbf{u}$, $\mathbf{v}$ and $\mathbf{w}$ as its columns, in that order.

My question: is there *any* difference between this and the regular cross product or vector product of two vectors, as long as we stay in $\mathbb{R}^3$? And if there is no difference, then why introduce the wedge?

Cheers!