<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
In this section, you will:
  • Plot points using polar coordinates.
  • Convert from polar coordinates to rectangular coordinates.
  • Convert from rectangular coordinates to polar coordinates.
  • Transform equations between polar and rectangular forms.
  • Identify and graph polar equations by converting to rectangular equations.

Over 12 kilometers from port, a sailboat encounters rough weather and is blown off course by a 16-knot wind (see [link] ). How can the sailor indicate his location to the Coast Guard? In this section, we will investigate a method of representing location that is different from a standard coordinate grid.

An illustration of a boat on the polar grid.

Plotting points using polar coordinates

When we think about plotting points in the plane, we usually think of rectangular coordinates ( x , y ) in the Cartesian coordinate plane. However, there are other ways of writing a coordinate pair and other types of grid systems. In this section, we introduce to polar coordinates    , which are points labeled ( r , θ ) and plotted on a polar grid. The polar grid is represented as a series of concentric circles radiating out from the pole    , or the origin of the coordinate plane.

The polar grid is scaled as the unit circle with the positive x- axis now viewed as the polar axis    and the origin as the pole. The first coordinate r is the radius or length of the directed line segment from the pole. The angle θ , measured in radians, indicates the direction of r . We move counterclockwise from the polar axis by an angle of θ , and measure a directed line segment the length of r in the direction of θ . Even though we measure θ first and then r , the polar point is written with the r -coordinate first. For example, to plot the point ( 2 , π 4 ) , we would move π 4 units in the counterclockwise direction and then a length of 2 from the pole. This point is plotted on the grid in [link] .

Polar grid with point (2, pi/4) plotted.

Plotting a point on the polar grid

Plot the point ( 3 , π 2 ) on the polar grid.

The angle π 2 is found by sweeping in a counterclockwise direction 90° from the polar axis. The point is located at a length of 3 units from the pole in the π 2 direction, as shown in [link] .

Polar grid with point (3, pi/2) plotted.
Got questions? Get instant answers now!
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Plot the point ( 2 , π 3 ) in the polar grid .

Polar grid with point (2, pi/3) plotted.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Plotting a point in the polar coordinate system with a negative component

Plot the point ( 2 , π 6 ) on the polar grid.

We know that π 6 is located in the first quadrant. However, r = −2. We can approach plotting a point with a negative r in two ways:

  1. Plot the point ( 2 , π 6 ) by moving π 6 in the counterclockwise direction and extending a directed line segment 2 units into the first quadrant. Then retrace the directed line segment back through the pole, and continue 2 units into the third quadrant;
  2. Move π 6 in the counterclockwise direction, and draw the directed line segment from the pole 2 units in the negative direction, into the third quadrant.

See [link] (a). Compare this to the graph of the polar coordinate ( 2 , π 6 ) shown in [link] (b).

Two polar grids. Points (2, pi/6) and (-2, pi/6) are plotted. They are reflections across the origin in Q1 and Q3.
Got questions? Get instant answers now!
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Plot the points ( 3 , π 6 ) and ( 2 , 9 π 4 ) on the same polar grid.

Points (2, 9pi/4) and (3, -pi/6) are plotted in the polar grid.
Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Converting from polar coordinates to rectangular coordinates

When given a set of polar coordinates    , we may need to convert them to rectangular coordinates . To do so, we can recall the relationships that exist among the variables x , y , r , and θ .

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
give me the waec 2019 questions
Aaron Reply
Practice Key Terms 3

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Algebra and trigonometry. OpenStax CNX. Nov 14, 2016 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11758/1.6
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Algebra and trigonometry' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask