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Name:_______________________ Date assigned:______________ Band:________
Precalculus  Packer Collegiate Institute
Introduction to a New Space
Imagine a giant yellow flat sheet of paper. Like 10 miles by 10 miles… so gigantor that when you’re standing somewhere
on it, you only see yellow paper for as far as the eye can see.
That’s pretty gigantor.
Now assume you wanted to describe where you are on this giant piece of paper to someone else. You have a friend
somewhere else on the paper, probably miles away, and all they can see is yellow paper for as far as the eye can see.
The problem is: if all of you can only see paper – and not each other – all around you… how do you find each other?
Indeed, a problem. And it’s rather intractable.
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Nothing but vast paper
Some basic information to guide you on the paper
However with some basic markings on this vast expanse of paper, you can easily get on the phone with your friend and
say: “hey, friend, I’m 2 miles east of the center and 3 miles south of the center.” And your friend can come find you at
the coordinates (2,3).
We call this wonderful invention the rectangular coordinate system because it divides up the page into
rectangles/squares. It helps us know where things are. The way it does this is by giving us a point of reference (the origin)
and two axes with which to orient ourselves from the origin.
However… it’s not the only way to describe a position on this sheet of paper. Your entire mathematical career, you’ve
worked on the rectangular coordinate system. The (x,y) points! The distance leftright and the distance updown. It’s our
way of describing location in 2D space. However, there is another way. Today you’re going to be introduced to that
other way.
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The fancy word for this is isotropic – and it means “uniformity in all orientations.” Another way to think about it is if you were in
the blackness of space  no stars in sight. All there was for thousands of miles in all directions was nothingness. That space is
isotropic. You couldn’t tell one direction from another. Same for that yellow paper! It’s just in 2D, instead of 3D space.
÷4 ÷3 ÷2 ÷1 1 2 3 4
÷4
÷3
÷2
÷1
1
2
3
4
x
y
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Section 1: Battleship
There is a second way to determine where something is in 2D space, where you don’t even think in xy coordinates.
Open up the course conference and download the geogebra file titled “Battleship.” Save it to your desktop.
In this file, you should see a battleship in the plane (in 2D space). You need to identify exactly where the battleship is.
You’re at the origin, using your periscope to find the battleship.
Use the two controls at your command to find the battleship!
You know you’ve successfully located it if you see the corny…
…displayed at the bottom of your screen.
After you find the battleship, record its location below. Then close
the file, open it up, and do it two additional times.
Battleship 1 Battleship 2 Battleship 3
Distance
Angle
I said that there was a different way to identify something’s location in 2D space than giving the xy coordinates! This is
it!
Look at the point below. You could identify it with the coordinates (4, 2). However, can you identify it with a distance
and an angle?
Point A
Distance:
Angle:
You’re going to practice this a bit more.
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Distance:
Angle:
Distance:
Angle:
Distance:
Angle:
(To be clear, those numbers are 3.41 and 2.69)
Distance:
Angle:
To check your answers, download the geogebra file titled “Polar and Rectangular Coordinates.” Drag point A to the
various locations above and check your answers!
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What if you have a general point on the rectangular coordinate system ( , ) x y . What would the distance and angle be?
Distance:
Angle:
Note: Think carefully about the formula you are deriving for your angle… Be sure to think about the quadrant!
Section 2: Nomenclature
This new coordinate system is called the polar coordinate system. Instead of x and ycoordinates, we have two new
coordinates: distance and angle.
We designate the distance with r (for radius, how far away from the origin we are!) and we designate the angle with u .
Plot the following coordinates on the polar graph:
Point P: (2, 45 )
o
Point Q: (4, 270 )
o
Point R: (3,180 )
o
Point S: (5, 0 )
o
Point T*: ( 5, 0 )
o
÷
Point U: (2, 1 ) 35
o
÷
Point V*: ( 2, 1 ) 35
o
÷ ÷
*You’ve dealt with negative
angles before. However, when
you have a negative distance, it
means go the same distance
but in the opposite direction.
Example: the point ( ) 1, 45
o
÷
is plotted here:
1 2 3 4
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Section 3: Moving Backwards (Polar to Rectangular)
Now I want you to work backwards. If I give you the distance and angle ( r and u ), I want you to give me the xy
coordinates.
Polar coordinates:
) ( , ) ( , r u =
Rectangular coordinates:
x =
y =
so…
, ( , ) ( ) x y =
Polar coordinates:
) ( , ) ( , r u =
Rectangular coordinates:
x =
y =
so…
, ( , ) ( ) x y =
Polar coordinates:
) ( , ) ( , r u =
Rectangular coordinates:
x =
y =
so…
, ( , ) ( ) x y =
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4
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What if you have a general point on the polar coordinate system ( , ) r u . What would the x and ycoordinates be?
xcoordinate:
ycoordinate:
Section 4: Some Problems
1. (a) Are the points 2,
4
t  

\ .
and 2,
9
4
t  

\ .
different points? YES / NO
(b) Are the points 2,
4
t  

\ .
and 2,
4
t  
÷ ÷

\ .
different points? YES / NO
2. Write two different ways to represent the point
4
1,
3
t  
÷

\ .
.
3. True or False: The polar coordinates of a point are unique.
4. True or False: The rectangular coordinates of a point are unique.
Home Enjoyment:
Sullivan, Chapter 9.1 #3138* (all), 39, 40, 42, 44, 45, 50, 54, 58, 60, 63, 66, 84
*Be sure to plot each point and then give your answers for (a)(c)
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