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# Cylindrical and spherical coordinates

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### Cylindrical and spherical coordinates

1. 1. 56 CHAPTER 1. VECTORS AND THE GEOMETRY OF SPACE1.7 Cylindrical and Spherical Coordinates1.7.1 Review: Polar CoordinatesThe polar coordinate system is a two-dimensional coordinate system in whichthe position of each point on the plane is determined by an angle and a distance.The distance is usually denoted r and the angle is usually denoted . Thus, inthis coordinate system, the position of a point will be given by the ordered pair(r; ). These are called the polar coordinates These two quantities r and , are determined as follows. First, we needsome reference points. You may recall that in the Cartesian coordinate system,everything was measured with respect to the coordinate axes. In the polarcoordinate system, everything is measured with respect a …xed point called thepole and an axis called the polar axis. The is the equivalent of the originin the Cartesian coordinate system. The polar axis corresponds to the positivex-axis. Given a point P in the plane, we draw a line from the pole to P .The distance from the pole to P is r, the angle, measured counterclockwise,by which the polar axis has to be rotated in order to go through P is . Thepolar coordinates of P are then (r; ). Figure 1.7.1 shows two points and theirrepresentation in the polar coordinate system.Remark 79 Let us make several remarks. 1. Recall that a positive value of means that we are moving counterclock- wise. But can also be negative. A negative value of means that the polar axis is rotated clockwise to intersect with P . Thus, the same point can have several polar coordinates. For example, (2; 90) and (2; 270) represent the same point. 2. Recall that given an angle , the angles + 2 , + 4 , :::, + 2k where k = 0; 1; 2; 3; ::: represent the same angle. Thus, (r; ) and (r; + 2k ) where k = 0; 1; 2; 3; ::: represent the same point.
2. 2. 1.7. CYLINDRICAL AND SPHERICAL COORDINATES 57 3. Recall that a positive value of r means that the point is away from the pole in the direction of the positive x-axis (taking into account the rotation by ). But r can also have a negative value. A negative value of r means that the point is away from the pole in the direction of the negative x-axis. Thus (r; ) and ( r; + ) represent the same point. 4. The pole has in…nitely many polar coordinates. They are of the form (0; ) where can be anything. Why do we need another coordinate system? Cartesian coordinates are notbest suited for every shape. Certain shape, including circular ones, cannoteven be represented as a function in Cartesian coordinates. These shapes aremore easily represented in polar coordinates. We will see some examples below.First, we need to see how to go back and forth between Cartesian and polar co-ordinates. Figure 1.7.1 helps us understand how the two coordinate systems arerelated. We list the formulas which allow the switch between the two coordinatesystems as a proposition.Proposition 80 The following formulas can be used to switch between Carte-sian and polar coordinates. 1. From polar to Cartesian coordinates: Given r and , we can …nd x and y by: x = r cos (1.16) y = r sin 2. From Cartesian to polar coordinates: Given x and y, we can …nd r
3. 3. 58 CHAPTER 1. VECTORS AND THE GEOMETRY OF SPACE and by: x2 + y 2 = r2 (1.17) y tan = x We now look at some examples of converting points between polar and Carte-sian coordinates. 2Example 81 Convert 4; in Cartesian coordinates. 3Using formulas 1.16 we have: 2 1 x = 4 cos = 4 =2 3 2 p ! 2 3 p y = 4 4 sin = = 2 3 3 2 pSo, in Cartesian coordinates, the point is 2; 2 3 .Example 82 Convert (1; 0) in polar coordinates.We don’ need a formula here. This point is on the x-axis, one unit from the torigin. Its polar coordinates are (1; 0) p p ! 2 2Example 83 Convert ; in polar coordinates. 2 2Using formulas 1.17, we have: p !2 p !2 2 2 2 r = + =1 2 2This gives us r= 1and x tan = y p 2 = p 2 2 2 = 1Thus = 4With a choice of = , we see that we must have r = 1. So, in polar coordi- 4nates, the point is 1; . 4
4. 4. 1.7. CYLINDRICAL AND SPHERICAL COORDINATES 59 We now look at how to convert the equation of known shapes between Carte-sian and polar coordinates. Recall that when we write the equation of a shape,we are writing conditions that the coordinates of a point must satisfy in orderto belong to that shape. In Cartesian coordinates, this relation is between xand y. In polar coordinates, the relation will be between r and . Of course, theequations of the shapes you know in Cartesian coordinates will look very di¤er-ent in polar coordinates. To perform this, we will use the relations in equations1.16 and 1.17.Example 84 What is the equation of the line y = 2x + 5 in polar coordinates.Rewriting in terms of r and , we have r sin = 2r cos + 5There is not much to simplify here.Example 85 What is the equation of the horizontal line through (1; 2) in polarcoordinates?In Cartesian coordinates, it is y = 2. This gives us r sin = 2Example 86 What is the equation of the circle of radius 2 centered at the originin polar coordinates?In Cartesian coordinates, this equation is x2 + y 2 = 4. This gives us r2 cos2 + r2 sin2 = 4 2 2 2 r sin + cos = 2 2 r = 4or r = 2.Example 87 What is in Cartesian coordinate = 5? 1 y is related to x and y via the tangent function. = tan . Hence, we have x y = tan = tan 5 xthat is y = (tan 5) xThis is the equation of the line through the origin with slope tan 5. Polar coordinate can be extended to the three-dimensional space di¤erentways. We present two here: the cylindrical coordinate system and the sphericalcoordinate system.
5. 5. 60 CHAPTER 1. VECTORS AND THE GEOMETRY OF SPACE Figure 1.36: Cylindrical Coordinates1.7.2 Cylindrical CoordinatesThese are coordinates for a three-dimensional space. In this coordinate system,a point P is represented by the triple (r; ; z) where r and are the polarcoordinates of the projection of P onto the xy-plane and z has the same meaningas in Cartesian coordinates. Figure 1.36 shows a point in cylindrical coordinates. Switching between Cartesian coordinates and cylindrical coordinates will usethe same formulas as when switching between polar and Cartesian coordinates.We illustrate this with a few examples. p 1 3Example 88 Convert 2; 2 ; 5 to cylindrical coordinates.We see that r2 = x2 + y 2 2 p !2 1 3 = + 2 2 = 1and y tan = x p = 3
6. 6. 1.7. CYLINDRICAL AND SPHERICAL COORDINATES 61Thus = 3 and r = 1. Thus, the cylindrical coordinates are 1; 3 ; 5 .Example 89 What is the equation in cylindrical coordinates of the cone x2 +y2 = z2 .Replacing x2 + y 2 by r2 , we obtain r2 = z 2 which usually gives us r = z.Since z can be any real number, it is enough to write r = z. Thus, in cylindricalcoordinates, this cone is z = r.Example 90 What is the equation in Cartesian coordinates of r = 3. What isit?Since r = 3, we see that r2 = 9 that is x2 + y 2 = 9. This is a cylinder centeredalong the z-axis, of radius 3.1.7.3 Spherical CoordinatesThis is a three-dimensional coordinate system. The coordinates of a point Pare given by the ordered pair ( ; ; ) where: is the distance from the origin to P . We assume 0. has the same meaning as in polar and cylindrical coordinates. There are no restrictions on . is the angle between the positive z-axis and the line from the origin to P . We restrict to 0 . This is illustrated by …gure 1.37. Let us …rst derive the formulas to switch between Cartesian and sphericalcoordinates. Using the triangle one can make with the z-axis and the line from the originthrough P , we have z = cos (1.18)and r = sin (1.19)Also z 2 + r2 = 2 (1.20) Using the triangle one can make with the x-axis and the line from the originto the projection of P on the xy-plane, we have x = r cos (1.21) y = r sinand also x2 + y 2 = r 2 (1.22)
7. 7. 62 CHAPTER 1. VECTORS AND THE GEOMETRY OF SPACE Figure 1.37: Spherical CoordinatesCombining relations 1.18, 1.19 and 1.21 gives us x = sin cos y = sin sin z = cos Combining relations 1.20 and 1.22 gives us x2 + y 2 + z 2 = 2In conclusion, the following relations can be used to switch between Cartesianand spherical coordinates: x = sin cos (1.23) y = sin sin z = cos 2 = x2 + y 2 + z 2 We illustrate this with some examples. pExample 91 Convert 1; 1; 2 from Cartesian to spherical. 2 p 2We can get easily. 2 = ( 1) + 12 + 2 = 4. Thus, = 2. From
8. 8. 1.7. CYLINDRICAL AND SPHERICAL COORDINATES 63 p pz = cos , we see that cos = 2 2 hence = cos 1 2 2 = 4 . Finally, 3to …nd , we can use the equation involving x or y. Let’ use y. We have p s ysin = sin = 2 sin 3 = 1 2. Several values for would work. 4 , 34 . 1 2 4However, the projection of P on the xy-plane is in the second quadrant, so wemust have = 34 . Thus, the spherical coordinates are 2; 34 ; 34 . p pExample 92 Convert 6; 4 ; 2 from cylindrical to spherical.Let us …rst note that is the same in both coordinates systems. Next, we can get p p from equation 1.20. Since r = 6 and z = 2, we see that 2 = z 2 + r2 = 8. p pThus, = 2 2. Finally, we use z = cos to get . cos = z = 2p22 = 1 . 2 pThus, = 3 . Hence, the spherical coordinates are 2 2; 4 ; 3 .Example 93 Identify the surface given by = 2.Converting to Cartesian coordinates gives x2 +y 2 +z 2 = 4. Hence, it is a spherecentered at the origin, with radius 2. This is important to remember. In general,the equation = c is the equation of the sphere of radius c centered at the originin spherical coordinates. Make sure you can do the above before attempting the problems.1.7.4 ProblemsDo odd # 3- 23 at the end of 9.7 in your book.