Browse Definitions:
Definition

polar coordinates

Polar coordinates provide a method of rendering graphs and indicating the positions of points on a two-dimensional (2D) surface. The polar coordinate system is employed in mathematics, physics, engineering, navigation, robotics, and other sciences.

The polar plane consists of a reference axis, or ray, that emanates from a point called the origin. Positions or coordinates are determined according to the distance or radius, from the origin, symbolized r , and the angle relative to the reference axis, symbolized by the lowercase Greek theta ( ). In the most common polar system, the reference ray points off toward the right, and angles are measured counterclockwise from it (illustration at left). This scheme is preferred, and is used by mathematicians, physicists, and engineers. In a less common scheme, the reference ray points upward, and angles are measured clockwise from it (illustration at right). This method is sometimes used by astronomers, navigators, military personnel, meteorologists, and robotics engineers.

Points or coordinates in either system are indicated by writing an opening parenthesis, the r value, a comma, the value, and a closing parenthisis in that order. The radius coordinates are, by convention, always nonnegative. Angles can be specified in degree s from 0 to 360, or in radian s from 0 to 2 pi , where pi is approximately 3.14159. An example using degrees is ( r , ) = (2,30). The origin is assigned r = 0.

If the scheme in the left-hand illustration is used, it is possible to convert a coordinate in the Cartesian xy -plane to polar values using these formulas:

x = r cos

y = r sin

Conversely, to convert a coordinate in the polar plane (as depicted in the left-hand illustration) to Cartesian values, use these formulas:

r = ( x 2 + y 2 ) 1/2

= arctan ( y / x )

Compare Cartesian coordinates .

This was last updated in September 2005

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

Why Newton needed polar coordinates instead of rectangular coordinates
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

  • audit program (audit plan)

    An audit program, also called an audit plan, is an action plan that documents what procedures an auditor will follow to validate ...

SearchSecurity

  • insider threat

    Insider threat is a generic term for a threat to an organization's security or data that comes from within.

  • ransomware

    Ransomware is a subset of malware in which the data on a victim's computer is locked, typically by encryption, and payment is ...

  • hacker

    A hacker is an individual who uses computer, networking or other skills to overcome a technical problem.

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • 3D XPoint

    3D XPoint is memory storage technology jointly developed by Intel and Micron Technology Inc.

  • RRAM or ReRAM (resistive RAM)

    RRAM or ReRAM (resistive random access memory) is a form of nonvolatile storage that operates by changing the resistance of a ...

  • JEDEC

    JEDEC is a global industry group that develops open standards for microelectronics.

SearchCloudStorage

  • Google Cloud Storage

    Google Cloud Storage is an enterprise public cloud storage platform that can house large unstructured data sets.

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

Close