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Compression and Conversion Help

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Aug 30, 2011

Geometric Polar Plane

Figure 5-12 shows a variant of the polar coordinate plane on which the radial scale is graduated geometrically, rather than in linear fashion. The point corresponding to 1 on the r axis is halfway between the origin and the outer periphery, which is labeled ∞ (the “infinity” symbol). Succeeding integer points are placed halfway between previous integer points and the outer periphery. In this way, the entire polar coordinate plane is, in effect, portrayed inside an open circle having a finite radius.

Polar Coordinates Compression and Conversion Geometric Polar Plane

Fig. 5-12. A polar coordinate plane with a “geometrically compressed” radial axis.

The radial scale of this coordinate system can be expanded or compressed by multiplying all the values on the r axis by a constant. This allows various relations and functions to be plotted, minimizing distortion in particular regions of interest. Distortion relative to the conventional polar coordinate plane is greatest near the periphery, and is least near the origin.

This “geometric axis compression” scheme can also be used with the axes of rectangular coordinates in two or three dimensions. It is not often seen in the literature, but it can be interesting because it provides a “view to infinity” that other coordinate systems do not.

Mathematician’s Polar Vs Cartesian

Figure 5-13 shows a point P = ( x 0 , y 0 ) = ( θ 0 , r 0 ) graphed on superimposed Cartesian and polar coordinate systems. If we know the Cartesian coordinates, we can convert to polar coordinates using these formulas:

θ 0 = arctan ( y 0 / x 0 ) if x 0 > 0

θ 0 = 180° + arctan ( y 0 / x 0 ) if x 0 < 0 (for θ 0 in degrees)

Polar Coordinates Compression and Conversion Mathematician’s Polar Vs Cartesian

Fig. 5-13. Conversion between polar and Cartesian (rectangular) coordinates. Each radial division represents one unit. Each division on the x and y axes also represents one unit.

Polar Coordinates Compression and Conversion Mathematician’s Polar Vs Cartesian

We can’t have x 0 = 0 because that produces an undefined quotient in the conversion formula to θ 0 . If a value of θ 0 thus determined happens to be negative, you can add 360° or 2π rad to get the “legitimate” value.

Polar coordinates are converted to Cartesian coordinates by the following formulas:

x 0 = r 0 cos θ 0

y 0 = r 0 sin θ 0

These same formulas can be used, by means of substitution, to convert Cartesian-coordinate relations to polar-coordinate relations, and vice versa. The general Cartesian-to-polar conversion formulas look like this:

θ = arctan ( y / x ) if x > 0

θ = 180° + arctan ( y/x ) if x < 0 (for θ in degrees)

θ = π + arctan ( y/x ) if x < 0 (for θ in radians)

r = ( x 2 + y 2 ) 1/2

The general polar-to-Cartesian conversion formulas are:

x = r cos θ

y = r sin θ

When making a conversion from polar to Cartesian coordinates or vice versa, a relation that is a function in one system is sometimes a function in the other system, but that is not always the case.

Compression and Conversion Practice Problems

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