# Coordinates Transformations

Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 2 / 29
• It is important to compare the units
that are used in Cartesian
coordinates with the units that are
used in cylindrical coordinates and
spherical coordinates.
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 3 / 29
• In Cartesian coordinates, (x, y, z), all
three coordinates measure length
and, thus, are in units of length.
• In cylindrical coordinates, (ρ, |, z), two of
the coordinates – ρ and z -- measure
length and, thus, are in units of length
but
• the coordinate | measures angles and
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 4 / 29
• The most important part of the
preceding slide is the quotation
marks around the word "units" –
• radians are a dimensionless quantity –
• That is, they do not have associated units.
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 5 / 29
• The formulas below enable us to convert
from cylindrical coordinates to Cartesian
coordinates.

• Notice the units work out correctly.
• The right side of each of the first two equations is a
product in which the first factor is measured in units
of length and the second factor is dimensionless.
| µ cos = x
| µsin = y
z z =
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 6 / 29
Cylindrical-to-Cartesian
z
y
x
|
ρ
(x,y,z) = (ρ,|,z)
| µ cos = x
| µsin = y
z z =
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 7 / 29
Cartesian-to-Cylindrical
z
y
x
|
ρ
(x,y,z) = (ρ,|,z)
x
y
2 2 2 2 2
y x y x + = ¬ + = µ µ
x
y
1
tan
÷
= |
z = z
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 8 / 29
• Find the cylindrical coordinates of the
point whose Cartesian coordinates
are
(1, 2, 3)
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 9 / 29
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 10 / 29
• Find the Cartesian coordinates of the
point whose cylindrical coordinates
are
(2, t/4, 3)

Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 11 / 29
3
2
=
= =
z
y x
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 12 / 29
• Spherical coordinates consist of the
three quantities (r,u,|).
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 13 / 29
• First there is r.
• This is the distance from the origin to
the point.
• Note that r > 0.
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 14 / 29
• Next there is |.
• This is the same angle that we saw in
cylindrical coordinates.
• It is the angle between the positive x-
axis and the line denoted by ρ (which is
also the same ρ as in cylindrical
coordinates).
• There are no restrictions on |.
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 15 / 29
• Finally there is u.
• This is the angle between the positive z-
axis and the line from the origin to the
point.
• We will require 0 ≤u ≤t.
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 16 / 29
• In summary,
• r is the distance from the origin to the
point,
• u is the angle that we need to rotate
down from the positive z-axis to get to
the point and
• | is how much we need to rotate around
the z-axis to get to the point.
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 17 / 29
• We should first derive some
conversion formulas.
coordinates and ask what the cylindrical
coordinates of the point are.
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 18 / 29
Spherical-to-Cylindrical
z
y
x
|
ρ
(r,u,|) = (ρ,|,z)
x
y
r
u
u cos r z =
u µ sin r =
| = |
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 19 / 29
Cylindrical-to-Spherical
z
y
x
|
ρ
(r,u,|) = (ρ,|,z)
x
y
r
u
u cos r z =
u µ sin r =
| = |
2 2 2 2 2
µ µ + = ¬ + = z r z r
z
µ
u
1
tan
÷
=
| = |
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 20 / 29
Cartesian-to-Spherical
z
y
x
|
ρ
(r,u,|) = (ρ,|,z)
x
y
r
u
u cos r z =
u µ sin r =
| = |
2 2 2
µ + = z r
z
µ
u = tan
| = |
Recall from
Cartesian-to-
cylindrical
transformations:
2 2 2
y x + = µ
2 2 2 2
y x z r + + =
2 2 2
z y x r + + =
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 21 / 29
Cartesian-to-Spherical
z
y
x
|
ρ
(r,u,|) = (ρ,|,z)
x
y
r
u
u cos r z =
u µ sin r =
z
y x
2 2
1
tan
+
=
÷
u
2 2 2
z y x r + + =
x
y
1
tan
÷
= |
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 22 / 29
Spherical-to-Cartesian
z
y
x
|
ρ
(r,u,|) = (ρ,|,z)
x
y
r
u
u cos r z =
u µ sin r =
u cos r z =
| µ cos = x
| µsin = y
| u cos sin r x =
| u sin sin r y =
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 23 / 29
• Converting points from Cartesian or
cylindrical coordinates into spherical
coordinates is usually done with the
same conversion formulas.
• To see how this is done let’s work an
example of each.
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 24 / 29
• Perform each of the following
conversions.
• (a) Convert the point from
cylindrical to spherical coordinates.

• (b) Convert the point from
Cartesian to spherical coordinates.
|
.
|

\
|
2 ,
4
, 6
t
( ) 2 , 1 , 1 ÷ ÷
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 25 / 29
Solution
(a) Convert the point from
cylindrical to spherical
coordinates.

• We’ll start by acknowledging that
is the same in both coordinate systems.
|
.
|

\
|
2 ,
4
, 6
t
4
t
| =
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 26 / 29
• Next, let’s find r.

( ) ( )
2 2
2 2 2
6 2 + = ¬ + = r z r µ
2 2 8 6 2 = = + = r
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 27 / 29
• Finally, let’s get u.
• To do this we can use either the
conversion for r or z.
• We’ll use the conversion for z.
u cos r z =
2
1
2 2
2
cos = = u
2
1
cos
1 ÷
= u
3
t
u =
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 28 / 29
• So, the spherical coordinates of this
point will are
|
.
|

\
|
3
,
4
, 2 2
t t
Dr. Blanton - ENTC 3331 - Coordinate Transformations 29 / 29
|
.
|

\
|
4
3
,
4
3
, 2
t t