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In this section you will:
  • Plot ordered pairs in a Cartesian coordinate system.
  • Graph equations by plotting points.
  • Graph equations with a graphing utility.
  • Find x -intercepts and y -intercepts.
  • Use the distance formula.
  • Use the midpoint formula.
Road map of a city with street names on an x, y coordinate grid. Various points are marked in red on the grid lines indicating different locations on the map.

Tracie set out from Elmhurst, IL, to go to Franklin Park. On the way, she made a few stops to do errands. Each stop is indicated by a red dot in [link] . Laying a rectangular coordinate grid over the map, we can see that each stop aligns with an intersection of grid lines. In this section, we will learn how to use grid lines to describe locations and changes in locations.

Plotting ordered pairs in the cartesian coordinate system

An old story describes how seventeenth-century philosopher/mathematician René Descartes invented the system that has become the foundation of algebra while sick in bed. According to the story, Descartes was staring at a fly crawling on the ceiling when he realized that he could describe the fly’s location in relation to the perpendicular lines formed by the adjacent walls of his room. He viewed the perpendicular lines as horizontal and vertical axes. Further, by dividing each axis into equal unit lengths, Descartes saw that it was possible to locate any object in a two-dimensional plane using just two numbers—the displacement from the horizontal axis and the displacement from the vertical axis.

While there is evidence that ideas similar to Descartes’ grid system existed centuries earlier, it was Descartes who introduced the components that comprise the Cartesian coordinate system    , a grid system having perpendicular axes. Descartes named the horizontal axis the x- axis and the vertical axis the y- axis .

The Cartesian coordinate system, also called the rectangular coordinate system, is based on a two-dimensional plane consisting of the x -axis and the y -axis. Perpendicular to each other, the axes divide the plane into four sections. Each section is called a quadrant    ; the quadrants are numbered counterclockwise as shown in [link]

This is an image of an x, y plane with the axes labeled. The upper right section is labeled: Quadrant I.  The upper left section is labeled: Quadrant II.  The lower left section is labeled: Quadrant III.  The lower right section is labeled: Quadrant IV.

The center of the plane is the point at which the two axes cross. It is known as the origin    , or point ( 0 , 0 ) . From the origin, each axis is further divided into equal units: increasing, positive numbers to the right on the x- axis and up the y- axis; decreasing, negative numbers to the left on the x- axis and down the y- axis. The axes extend to positive and negative infinity as shown by the arrowheads in [link] .

This is an image of an x, y coordinate plane.  The x and y axis range from negative 5 to 5.

Each point in the plane is identified by its x- coordinate    , or horizontal displacement from the origin, and its y- coordinate    , or vertical displacement from the origin. Together, we write them as an ordered pair    indicating the combined distance from the origin in the form ( x , y ) . An ordered pair is also known as a coordinate pair because it consists of x- and y -coordinates. For example, we can represent the point ( 3 , −1 ) in the plane by moving three units to the right of the origin in the horizontal direction, and one unit down in the vertical direction. See [link] .

This is an image of an x, y coordinate plane. The x and y axis range from negative 5 to 5.  The point (3, -1) is labeled.  An arrow extends rightward from the origin 3 units and another arrow extends downward one unit from the end of that arrow to the point.

When dividing the axes into equally spaced increments, note that the x- axis may be considered separately from the y- axis. In other words, while the x- axis may be divided and labeled according to consecutive integers, the y- axis may be divided and labeled by increments of 2, or 10, or 100. In fact, the axes may represent other units, such as years against the balance in a savings account, or quantity against cost, and so on. Consider the rectangular coordinate system primarily as a method for showing the relationship between two quantities.

Questions & Answers

what is math number
Tric Reply
x-2y+3z=-3 2x-y+z=7 -x+3y-z=6
Sidiki Reply
Need help solving this problem (2/7)^-2
Simone Reply
x+2y-z=7
Sidiki
what is the coefficient of -4×
Mehri Reply
-1
Shedrak
the operation * is x * y =x + y/ 1+(x × y) show if the operation is commutative if x × y is not equal to -1
Alfred Reply
An investment account was opened with an initial deposit of $9,600 and earns 7.4% interest, compounded continuously. How much will the account be worth after 15 years?
Kala Reply
lim x to infinity e^1-e^-1/log(1+x)
given eccentricity and a point find the equiation
Moses Reply
12, 17, 22.... 25th term
Alexandra Reply
12, 17, 22.... 25th term
Akash
College algebra is really hard?
Shirleen Reply
Absolutely, for me. My problems with math started in First grade...involving a nun Sister Anastasia, bad vision, talking & getting expelled from Catholic school. When it comes to math I just can't focus and all I can hear is our family silverware banging and clanging on the pink Formica table.
Carole
I'm 13 and I understand it great
AJ
I am 1 year old but I can do it! 1+1=2 proof very hard for me though.
Atone
hi
Adu
Not really they are just easy concepts which can be understood if you have great basics. I am 14 I understood them easily.
Vedant
find the 15th term of the geometric sequince whose first is 18 and last term of 387
Jerwin Reply
I know this work
salma
The given of f(x=x-2. then what is the value of this f(3) 5f(x+1)
virgelyn Reply
hmm well what is the answer
Abhi
If f(x) = x-2 then, f(3) when 5f(x+1) 5((3-2)+1) 5(1+1) 5(2) 10
Augustine
how do they get the third part x = (32)5/4
kinnecy Reply
make 5/4 into a mixed number, make that a decimal, and then multiply 32 by the decimal 5/4 turns out to be
AJ
how
Sheref
can someone help me with some logarithmic and exponential equations.
Jeffrey Reply
sure. what is your question?
ninjadapaul
20/(×-6^2)
Salomon
okay, so you have 6 raised to the power of 2. what is that part of your answer
ninjadapaul
I don't understand what the A with approx sign and the boxed x mean
ninjadapaul
it think it's written 20/(X-6)^2 so it's 20 divided by X-6 squared
Salomon
I'm not sure why it wrote it the other way
Salomon
I got X =-6
Salomon
ok. so take the square root of both sides, now you have plus or minus the square root of 20= x-6
ninjadapaul
oops. ignore that.
ninjadapaul
so you not have an equal sign anywhere in the original equation?
ninjadapaul
hmm
Abhi
is it a question of log
Abhi
🤔.
Abhi
I rally confuse this number And equations too I need exactly help
salma
But this is not salma it's Faiza live in lousvile Ky I garbage this so I am going collage with JCTC that the of the collage thank you my friends
salma
Commplementary angles
Idrissa Reply
hello
Sherica
im all ears I need to learn
Sherica
right! what he said ⤴⤴⤴
Tamia
hii
Uday
hi
salma
hi
Ayuba
Hello
opoku
hi
Ali
greetings from Iran
Ali
salut. from Algeria
Bach
hi
Nharnhar

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Source:  OpenStax, College algebra. OpenStax CNX. Feb 06, 2015 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11759/1.3
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