Portal:Systems science/Article/4

From formulasearchengine
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A polar grid with several angles labeled in degrees

In mathematics, the polar coordinate system is a two-dimensional coordinate system in which each point on a plane is determined by an angle and a distance. The polar coordinate system is especially useful in situations where the relationship between two points is most easily expressed in terms of angles and distance; in the more familiar Cartesian or rectangular coordinate system, such a relationship can only be found through trigonometric formulae.

As the coordinate system is two-dimensional, each point is determined by two polar coordinates: the radial coordinate and the angular coordinate. The radial coordinate (usually denoted as ) denotes the point's distance from a central point known as the pole (equivalent to the origin in the Cartesian system). The angular coordinate (also known as the polar angle or the azimuth angle, and usually denoted by θ or ) denotes the positive or anticlockwise (counterclockwise) angle required to reach the point from the 0° ray or polar axis (which is equivalent to the positive x-axis in the Cartesian coordinate plane).