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Polar Coordinates.

A point in the plane can be specified by its coordinates x and y coordinates. There is an

origin, an x-axis going left to right and a y-axis perpendicular to it going up and down.

There are positive directions chosen by convention along the axes. Usually to the right

or East on the x axis and up or north along the y-axis. A point with coordinates (3, 2)

is where you end up if you start at the origin go 3 units along the x-axis in the positive

direction and 4 units along the positive direction along the y axis. It does not matter in

which order you go. Three blocks east and then two blocks north gets you to the same

corner as two blocks north and then three blocks east.

This is not the only way to represent points in the plane. If you want to some place from

the origin, you can pick the exact direction and travel a precise distance and you will get

there. Direction is specified by an angle 0 2 and the distance by r > 0. r = 0 is

the origin. The point (3, 4) in Cartesian coordinates will be (r, ), where r = 32 + 42 = 5

and = arctan 34 , the angle the line joining the origin to (3, 4) makes with the x-axis.

We choose 0 2 because the point is in the third quadrant. If we were looking at

(3, 4), r will still be 5, but we will pick arctan 43 in the range 3

4

.

p y

r = x2 + y 2 , = arctan

x

= arctan xy has always two choices and + . One corresponds to (x, y) while the other

to (x, y). The choice depends on the signs of x and y, that determines the quadrant

the point is in.

x = r cos , y = r sin

will look like f (r cos , r cos ) = 0. g(r, ) = 0 becomes g( x2 + y 2 , arctan xy ) = 0.

at a distance 5 from the origin.

5

Example. The line y = x, becomes = 4

or = 4

.

r = 2 sin + 2 cos

with center (a, b) and radius a2 + b2 .

1

Tangents in polar coordinates. If an equation is given in polar coordinates ne can calculate

dr

easily d .

If r = f (), then x = f () cos , y = f () sin .

dy dr

dy d d sin + r cos

= dx

= dr

dx d d cos + r sin

Homework.

1. Find the Polar coordinates of the points (2, 2) and (1, 3)

2.Find the Cartesian coordinates of the points whose polar coordinates are r = 3, = 4

and r = 4, = 3

3. What is the slope of the tangent to the curve r = 3 cos at = 6

?

x2 y 2 = 1?

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