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This article is about angles in geometry. For other articles, see Angle

(disambiguation)

An angle is the figure formed by two rays sharing a common endpoint, called the vertex

of the angle. Angles provide a means of expressing the difference in slope between two

rays meeting at a vertex without the need to explicitly define the slopes of the two rays.

Angles are studied in geometry and trigonometry.

Euclid defines a plane angle as the inclination to each other, in a plane, of two lines

which meet each other, and do not lie straight with respect to each other. According to

Proclus an angle must be either a quality or a quantity, or a relationship. The first concept

was used by Eudemus, who regarded an angle as a deviation from a straight line; the

second by Carpus of Antioch, who regarded it as the interval or space between the

intersecting lines; Euclid adopted the third concept, although his definitions of right,

acute, and obtuse angles are certainly quantitative.

The word angle comes from the Latin word angulus, meaning "a corner". The word

angulus is a diminutive, of which the primitive form, angus, does not occur in Latin.

Cognate are the Latin angere, meaning "to compress into a bend" or "to strangle", and the

Greek (anguls), meaning "crooked, curved"; both are connected with the

Aryan or Indo-European root ank-, meaning "to bend".

In order to measure an angle , a circular arc centered at the vertex of the angle is drawn,

e.g. with a compass. The length of the arc s is then divided by the radius of the circle r,

and possibly multiplied by a constant k:

= ks/r

Since the circumference of a circle is always directly proportional to its radius, and an arc

is a fixed fraction of the circle, the measure of the angle is independent of the size of the

circle. An angle is often measured with a protractor.

Angles are dimensionless, since they are defined as the ratio of lengths. There are,

however, many different units used to measure angles, depending on the choice of the

constant k:

The radian measure of the angle uses k = 1, making the angle of a full circle 2

radians. The SI system of units uses radians as the (derived) unit for angles. This

is also roughly subdivided into the mil, which has several definitions in practice.

Because of the simple relationship to arc length, radians are a special unit. For

example, sines and cosines whose argument is in radians are derivatives of each

other (modulo ). The radian is abbreviated rad.

The degree measure of the angle uses k = 360/2, making the angle of a full circle

360 degrees. The symbol for degrees is a small superscript circle, as in 360. One

radian is about 57 and one degree is /180 rad 0.0175 rad.

o Fractions of a degree may be written as a decimal degree, e.g. 42.3753,

but for historic reasons they are also commonly expressed in sexagesimal

or degree-minute-second format, using minutes of arc, which are 1/60th of

a degree, and seconds of arc, which are 1/60th of a minute of arc and

1/3600th of a degree. The minute of arc is symbolized by a single prime,

and the second of arc by a double prime, e.g. 42 22 31. An intermediate

format with decimal minutes is also used, e.g. 42 22.52.

o Minutes of arc are commonly encountered in discussions of external

ballistics, as a minute of arc covers almost exactly 1 inch at 100 yards (1

m at 1200 m). A rifle capable of shooting "1 MOA", one minute of arc,

can place all shots within 1 inch at 100 yards, 2 inches at 200 yards, etc.

Minutes of arc are also used in navigation: a nautical mile was historically

defined as a minute of arc along a great circle of the Earth. Seconds of arc

routinely show up in astronomical applications, as most objects in the sky

have tiny angular diameters (e.g. Venus varies between 10 and 60).

The grad, also called grade, gradian, or gon, uses k = 400/2, making the angle of

a full circle 400 grads, and a right angle 100 grads. It is used mostly in

triangulation, and represents the percentage rise or grade of a slope (such as a hill,

roof, path, or road).

The point uses k = 32/2, making the angle of a full circle 32 points. One point is

exactly 11.25. The point is used in navigation.

The full circle or full turns or cycle or rotation or revolution uses k = 1/2, making

the angle of a full circle exactly 1; it represents the number or fraction of

complete full turns. For example, /2 rad = 90 = 1/4 full circle. The rotation and

revolution are abbreviated rot and rev, respectively, but may also be abbreviated

as r, as in rpm (revolutions per minute).

Conventions on measurement

A convention universally adopted in mathematical writing is that angles given a sign are

positive angles if measured counterclockwise, and negative angles if measured

clockwise, from a given line. If no line is specified, it can be assumed to be the x-axis in

the Cartesian plane. In navigation, bearings are measured from north, increasing

clockwise, so a bearing of 45 is north-east. Negative bearings are not used in navigation,

so north-west is 315.

In mathematics radians are assumed unless specified otherwise because this removes the

arbitrariness of the number 360 in the degree system and because the trigonometric

functions can be developed into particularly simple Taylor series if their arguments are

specified in radians.

Types of angles

An angle of /2 radians or 90, one-quarter of the full circle is called a right angle.

Two line segments, rays, or lines (or any combination) which form a right angle are said

to be either perpendicular or orthogonal:

Right angle

Acute, obtuse, and straight angles (a, b, c). Here, a and b are

supplement angles.

Angles smaller than a right angle are called acute angles (less than 90 degrees)

Angles larger than a right angle are called obtuse angles (more than 90 degrees,

less than 180).

Angles equal to two right angles are called straight angles (equal to 180 degrees).

Angles larger than two right angles are called reflex angles (more than 180

degrees).

The difference between an acute angle and a right angle is termed the

complement of the angle

The difference between an angle and two right angles is termed the supplement

of the angle.

Some facts

In Euclidean geometry, the inner angles of a triangle add up to radians or 180; the

inner angles of a simple quadrilateral add up to 2 radians or 360. In general, the inner

angles of a simple polygon with n sides add up to (n 2) radians or (n 2) 180.

If two straight lines intersect, four angles are formed. Each one has an equal measure to

the angle across from it; these congruent angles are called vertical angles.

If a straight transversal line intersects two parallel lines, corresponding (alternate) angles

at the two points of intersection are equal; adjacent angles are supplementary, that is they

add to radians or 180.

A formal definition

Using trigonometric functions

A Euclidean angle is completely determined by the corresponding right triangle. In

particular, if is a Euclidean angle, it is true that

and

for two numbers x and y. So an angle can be legitimately given by two numbers x and y.

To the ratio

there correspond two angles in the geometric range 0 < < 2, since

Using rotations

Suppose we have two unit vectors and in the euclidean plane

. Then there exists

one positive isometry (a rotation), and one only, from

to

that maps u onto v. Let r

be such a rotation. Then the relation

defined by

is an equivalence

, where

denotes the unit circle of

. The angle between two vectors will simply be the angle of

the rotation that maps one onto the other. We have no numerical way of determining an

angle yet. To do this, we choose the vector (1,0), then for any point M on at distance

from (1,0) (on the circle), let

into , then

is a bijection, which means we can identify any angle with a

number between 0 and 2.

In the Euclidean plane, the angle between two vectors u and v is related to their dot

product and their lengths by the formula

This allows one to define angles in any real inner product space, replacing the Euclidean

dot product by the Hilbert space inner product <,>.

The angle between a line and a curve (mixed angle) or between two intersecting curves

(curvilinear angle) is defined to be the angle between the tangents at the point of

intersection. Various names (now rarely, if ever, used) have been given to particular

cases:amphicyrtic (Gr. , on both sides, , convex) or cissoidal (Gr. ,

ivy), biconvex; xystroidal or sistroidal (Gr. , a tool for scraping), concavoconvex; amphicoelic (Gr. , a hollow) or angulus lunularis, biconcave.

Two intersecting planes form an angle, called their dihedral angle. It is defined as the

acute angle between two lines normal to the planes.

Also a plane and an intersecting line form an angle. This angle is equal to ninety degrees

minus the angle between the intersecting line and the line that goes through the point of

intersection and is normal to the plane.

In Riemannian geometry, the metric tensor is used to define the angle between two

tangents. Where U and V are tangent vectors and gij are the components of the metric

tensor G,

Angles in astronomy

In astronomy, one can measure the angular separation of two stars by imagining two

lines through the Earth, each one intersecting one of the stars. Then the angle between

those lines can be measured; this is the angular separation between the two stars.

Astronomers also measure the apparent size of objects. For example, the full moon has an

angular measurement of approximately 0.5, when viewed from Earth. One could say,

"The Moon subtends an angle of half a degree." The small-angle formula can be used to

convert such an angular measurement into a distance/size ratio.

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