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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

A laser rangefinder is locked on a comet approaching Earth. The distance g(x), in kilometers, of the comet after x days, for x in the interval 0 to 30 days, is given by g(x)=250,000csc(π30x). Graph g(x) on the interval [0, 35]. Evaluate g(5)  and interpret the information. What is the minimum distance between the comet and Earth? When does this occur? To which constant in the equation does this correspond? Find and discuss the meaning of any vertical asymptotes.
Kaitlyn Reply
The sequence is {1,-1,1-1.....} has
amit Reply
circular region of radious
Kainat Reply
how can we solve this problem
Joel Reply
Sin(A+B) = sinBcosA+cosBsinA
Eseka Reply
Prove it
Eseka
Please prove it
Eseka
hi
Joel
June needs 45 gallons of punch. 2 different coolers. Bigger cooler is 5 times as large as smaller cooler. How many gallons in each cooler?
Arleathia Reply
7.5 and 37.5
Nando
find the sum of 28th term of the AP 3+10+17+---------
Prince Reply
I think you should say "28 terms" instead of "28th term"
Vedant
the 28th term is 175
Nando
192
Kenneth
if sequence sn is a such that sn>0 for all n and lim sn=0than prove that lim (s1 s2............ sn) ke hole power n =n
SANDESH Reply
write down the polynomial function with root 1/3,2,-3 with solution
Gift Reply
if A and B are subspaces of V prove that (A+B)/B=A/(A-B)
Pream Reply
write down the value of each of the following in surd form a)cos(-65°) b)sin(-180°)c)tan(225°)d)tan(135°)
Oroke Reply
Prove that (sinA/1-cosA - 1-cosA/sinA) (cosA/1-sinA - 1-sinA/cosA) = 4
kiruba Reply
what is the answer to dividing negative index
Morosi Reply
In a triangle ABC prove that. (b+c)cosA+(c+a)cosB+(a+b)cisC=a+b+c.
Shivam Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Algebra and trigonometry. OpenStax CNX. Nov 14, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11758/1.6
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