Convert Polar to Cartesian Coordinates
To convert a point from the polar coordinate system to cartesian coordinate system the functions sine function and cosine function are used to solve for the and component of the point. A point in the polar coordinate system is in the form of and a point in the cartesian coordinate system is in the form of . The conversion is given in the equations below:
By convention, radians are used to measure angles in polar coordinates. Calculators often provide the option to switch between radians and degrees.
For example, the following expression shows how to convert the point , where the length of the radius is and the angle is (tau) divided by eight, to its cartesian form. Note, is equivalent to .
The polar point is equivalent to the cartesian point . This relationship is illustrated by the geometry of the special triangle below.
Both systems describe the position of a point in space. A point in the Polar Coordinate System is defined in terms of a radius and an angle: . A point in the Cartesian Coordinate System is defined in terms of a and component: . Both define the point relative to the origin of the system. Geometrically, the two points can be described by the right triangle below.
The definitions of the functions sine and cosine can be written out and the variables representing the corresponding lengths can be substituted in.
Finally, since we are interested in solving for the and components, we can solve for both in each equation by multiplying both sides by .
The Cartesian Coordinate System describes space of one, two, and three dimensions. Each point in space is represented by its distance relative to the origin of the system.
The Polar Coordinate System describes points in space using an angle and radius relative to the origin.
Radians are a unit that measure angle using the radius of a circle. One radian is equal to the amount of rotation required to travel the length of one radius along the circumference of the circle.
The cosine function returns the cosine of an angle provided in radians. In geometric terms, the function returns the ratio of the right-triangle's adjacent side over its hypotenuse.
The sine function returns the sine of a number provided in radians. In geometric terms, given the angle of a right-triangle as input, the function returns the ratio of the triangle's opposite side over its hypotenuse.
The unit circle is a unifying idea in mathematics that connects many useful concepts together. This article goes over the basic properties of the circle using interactive examples and explains how they connect to the trigonometric functions and pythagorean theorem.