Polar coordinates Definition and 64 Discussions

In mathematics, the polar coordinate system is a two-dimensional coordinate system in which each point on a plane is determined by a distance from a reference point and an angle from a reference direction. The reference point (analogous to the origin of a Cartesian coordinate system) is called the pole, and the ray from the pole in the reference direction is the polar axis. The distance from the pole is called the radial coordinate, radial distance or simply radius, and the angle is called the angular coordinate, polar angle, or azimuth. The radial coordinate is often denoted by r or ρ, and the angular coordinate by φ, θ, or t. Angles in polar notation are generally expressed in either degrees or radians (2π rad being equal to 360°).
Grégoire de Saint-Vincent and Bonaventura Cavalieri independently introduced the concepts in the mid-17th century, though the actual term polar coordinates has been attributed to Gregorio Fontana in the 18th century. The initial motivation for the introduction of the polar system was the study of circular and orbital motion.
Polar coordinates are most appropriate in any context where the phenomenon being considered is inherently tied to direction and length from a center point in a plane, such as spirals. Planar physical systems with bodies moving around a central point, or phenomena originating from a central point, are often simpler and more intuitive to model using polar coordinates.
The polar coordinate system is extended to three dimensions in two ways: the cylindrical and spherical coordinate systems.

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  1. DaraRychenkova

    Dipole in polar coordinates

    I don't know how to get the result referring to the previous task. Is my decision correct?
  2. R

    A Converting this vector into polar form

    In the following%3A%20https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2013/sm/c3sm00140g?casa_token=3O_jwMdswQQAAAAA%3AaSRtvg3XUHSnUwFKEDo01etmudxmMm8lcU4dIUSkJ52Hzitv2c_RSQJYsoHE1Bm2ubZ3sdt6mq5S-w'] paper, the surface velocity for a moving, spherical particle is given as (eq 1)...
  3. H

    A Polar Fourier transform of derivatives

    The 2D Fourier transform is given by: \hat{f}(k,l)=\int_{\mathbb{R}^{2}}f(x,y)e^{-ikx-ily}dxdy In terms of polar co-ordinates: \hat{f}(\rho,\phi)=\int_{0}^{\infty}\int_{-\pi}^{\pi}rf(r,\theta)e^{-ir\rho\cos(\theta-\phi)}drd\theta For Fourier transforms in cartesian co-ordinates, relating the...
  4. T

    Integration of acceleration in polar coordinates

    I made this exercise up to acquire more skill with polar coordinates. The idea is you're given the acceleration vector and have to find the position vector corresponding to it, working in reverse of the image. My attempts are the following, I proceed using 3 "independent" methods just as you...
  5. SH2372 General Relativity (5X): Metric components in polar coordinates

    SH2372 General Relativity (5X): Metric components in polar coordinates

  6. SH2372 General Relativity (4X): Covariant derivative of the position vector in polar coordinates

    SH2372 General Relativity (4X): Covariant derivative of the position vector in polar coordinates

  7. SH2372 General Relativity (3X): Christoffel symbols in polar coordinates

    SH2372 General Relativity (3X): Christoffel symbols in polar coordinates

  8. SH2372 General relativity (2X): Basis vectors in polar coordinates

    SH2372 General relativity (2X): Basis vectors in polar coordinates

  9. ektov_konstantin

    I Moving center of coordinates in the polar graph

    I have a function in polar coordinates: t (rho, phi) = H^2 / (H^2 + rho^2) (1) I have moved the center to the right and want to get the new formulae. I use cartesian coordinates to simplify the transformation (L =...
  10. derya

    A Analytical solution for an integral in polar coordinates?

    Hi, I am trying to find open-form solutions to the integrals attached below. Lambda and Eta are positive, known constants, smaller than 10 (if it helps). I would appreciate any help! Thank you!
  11. Istiak

    Differential position vector

    I had an equation. $$T=\frac{1}{2}m[\dot{x}^2+(r\dot{\theta})^2]$$ Then, they wrote that $$\mathrm dr=\hat r \mathrm dr + r \hat \theta \mathrm d \theta + \hat k \mathrm dz$$ I was thinking how they had derived it. The equation is looking like, they had differentiate "something". Is it just an...
  12. yucheng

    Simmons 7.11 Family of curves of a differential equation that intersect at angle pi/4

    >10. Let a family of curves be integral curves of a differential equation ##y^{\prime}=f(x, y) .## Let a second family have the property that at each point ##P=(x, y)## the angle from the curve of the first family through ##P## to the curve of the second family through ##P## is ##\alpha .## Show...
  13. yucheng

    Incorrect derivation of tangential acceleration in polar coordinates

    I am trying to derive the tangential acceleration of a particle. We have tangential velocity, radius and angular velocity. $$v_{tangential}= \omega r$$ then by multiplication rule, $$\dot v_{tangential} = a_{tangential} = \dot \omega r + \omega \dot r$$ and $$a_{tangential} = \ddot \theta r +...
  14. JorgeM

    A How do I express an equation in Polar coordinates as a Cartesian one.

    I got a polar function. $$ \psi = P(\theta )R(r) $$ When I calculate the Laplacian: $$ \ \vec \nabla^2 \psi = P(\theta)R^{\prime\prime}(r) + \frac{P(\theta)R^{\prime}(r)}{r} + \frac{R(r)P^{\prime\prime}(\theta)}{r^{2}} $$ Now I need to convert this one into cartesian coordinates and...
  15. T

    Orbital equations in polar coordinates

    The equations of motion are: \ddot{r}-r{\dot{\theta}} ^{2} = -\frac{1}{r^{2}} for the radial acceleration and r\ddot{\theta} + 2\dot{r}\dot{\theta}= 0 for the transverse acceleration When I integrate these equations I get only circles. The energy of the system is constant and the angular...
  16. Athenian

    [SR] - Test Particle inside the Sun's Gravitational Field - Part 2

    To begin with, I posted this thread ahead of time simply because I thought it may provide me some insight on how to solve for another problem that I have previously posted here: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/special-relativity-test-particle-inside-suns-gravitational-field.983171/unread...
  17. n3pix

    Converting Velocity Vector Formula from Cartesian Coordinate System to Polar Coordinate System

    I have a little question about converting Velocity formula that is derived as, ##\vec{V}=\frac{d\vec{r}}{dt}=\frac{dx}{dt}\hat{x}+\frac{dy}{dt}\hat{y}+\frac{dz}{dt}\hat{z}## in Cartesian Coordinate Systems ##(x, y, z)##. I want to convert this into Polar Coordinate System ##(r, \theta)##...
  18. Like Tony Stark

    How to get ##\ddot r## when you have ##r##, ##\theta## and right trig

    I have a right triangle: one of the angles is ##60°## (that's ##\theta##), one of the sides is ##40 m## long, and the hypotenuse is equal to the radius. Now I can find an expression for ##r## and that expression is ##r=\frac{height}{sin \theta}##. If I differentiate it, I'll get ##\dot r## and...
  19. Like Tony Stark

    Calculating the radius of curvature given acceleration and velocity

    Well, what I've done so far is calculating the magnitude of velocity and acceleration replacing ##t=2## in ##\theta (t)## and ##r(t)## so I could get the expressions for ##\dot r##, ##\dot \theta##, ##\ddot r## and ##\ddot \theta##. But that's not my problem... my problem is related to the...
  20. pobro44

    Angular and orbital speed at perihelion

    Hello to all good people of physics forums. I just wanted to ask, whether the angular and linear (orbital) speed in perihelion of eliptical orbit are related the same way as in circular orbit (v = rw). If we take a look at the angular momentum (in polar coordinates) of reduced body moving in...
  21. M

    Convert cylindrical coordinate displacement to Cartesian

    Summary: I can't figure out how the solver carries out the conversions from cartesian to cylindrical coordinates and vice-versa. I have a set of points of a finite element mesh which when inputted into a solver (ansys) gives the displacement of each node. I can get the displacement values of...
  22. majormuss

    Visualizing & Solving a 2D Laplace Eq problem (Polar Coordinates)

  23. velvetmist

    Finding the movement equation (non intertial system)

    Homework Statement A particle of a mass ##m## is embedded in a circular rail, (radius: ##R##), without any friction. In a given moment, the particle finds itselfs without velocity at point C, and a force is applied on the rail, which starts moving with an ## \vec A ## constant acceleration. Use...
  24. sams

    I Difference Between Inward and Outward Spiral Curves

    Could anyone please explain how can I know mathematically whether the logarithmic spiral curve spirals inward or outward? In which sense does the outward spiral spirals? Thank you very much for your help
  25. Adgorn

    Polar equation of a hyperbola with one focus at the origin

    Homework Statement Hello everyone, I have an assignment (Spivak's Calculus) to show that the polar equation of a hyperbola with the right focus in the origin is ##r=\frac {±\Lambda} {1+εcos(\theta)}##, but the equation I reached was slightly yet somewhat disturbingly different, and I'm not sure...
  26. BrandonUSC

    Radial Acceleration in Polar/Cylindrical Coordinates

    My question is why isn't the radial component e→r of acceleration in cylindrical coords simply r'' ? If r'' is the rate at which the rate of change of position is changing in the radial direction, wouldn't that make it the radial acceleration? I.e, the acceleration of the radius is the...
  27. C

    Finding area enclosed by the polar curve

    Homework Statement Question attached in attachments Homework Equations Area enclosed by polar graph is ∫0.5r^2 where r is the radius as a function of angle theta The Attempt at a Solution I attempted to use the formula above and I subtracted the area of the inside from the outside but it...
  28. Poetria

    Line passing through the origin (polar coordinates)

    Homework Statement -infinity < r > +infinity Which of the following are equations for the line y=m*x for m<0: a. theta = -arctan(m) b. theta = arctan(m) c. theta = arctan(-m) d. theta = arctan(m) + pi e. theta = arctan(m) - pi f. r = 1/(sin(theta - arctan(m))) 2. The attempt at a solution...
  29. R

    Diffusion equation in polar coordinates

    Homework Statement I am trying to solve the axisymmetric diffusion equation for vorticity by Fourier transformation. Homework Equations $$ \frac{\partial \omega}{\partial t} = \nu \Big( \frac{1}{r}\frac{\partial \omega}{\partial r} + \frac{\partial^2 \omega}{\partial r^2} \Big). $$ The...
  30. D

    Finding the volume surrounded by a curve using polar coordinate

    Homework Statement I tried to answer the following questions is about the curve surface z= f (x, y) = x^2 + y^2 in the xyz space. And the three questions related to each other A.) Find the tangent plane equation at the point (a, b, a^2+ b^2) in curved surface z . The equation of the...
  31. Alexanddros81

    A child slides down the helical water slide AB (Polar Coordinates)

    Homework Statement 13.43 A child slides down the helical water slide AB. The description of motion in cylindrical coordinates is ##R=4m##, ##θ=ω^2t^2## and ##z=h[1-(\frac {ω^2t^2} {π})]##, where h=3m and ω=0.75rad/s. Compute the magnitudes of the velocity vector and acceleration vector when...
  32. Alexanddros81

    Cloverleaf highway interchange - determine car acceleration

    Homework Statement 13.34 The curved portion of the cloverleaf highway interchange is defined by ##R^2=b^2sin2θ##, 0<=θ<=90deg. If a car travels along the curve at the constant speed v0, determine its acceleration at A Homework Equations The Attempt at a Solution [/B] Is this wrong?
  33. Alexanddros81

    Determine the angular speed ##\dotθ## of the arm OC

    Homework Statement 13.30 The colar B slides along a guide rod that has the shape of the spiral R = bθ. A pin on the collar slides in the slotted arm OC. If the speed of the collar is constant at v0, determine the angular speed ##\dot θ## of the arm OC in terms of v0, b, and θ. Homework...
  34. Alexanddros81

    The collar B slides along a guide rod (Polar Coord.)

    Homework Statement 13.29 The colar B slides along a guide rod that has the shape of the spiral R = bθ. A pin on the collar slides in the slotted arm OC. If OC is rotating at the constant angular speed ##\dot θ = ω##, determine the magnitude of the acceleration of the collar when it is a A...
  35. Alexanddros81

    The rod OB rotates counterclockwise about O (Polar Coord.)

    Homework Statement 13.25 The rod OB rotates counterclockwise about O at the constant angular speed of 45 rev/min while the collar A slides toward B with the constant speed 0.6 m/s, measured relative to the rod. When collar A is in the position R = 0.24m, θ = 0, calculate (a) its velocity...
  36. Alexanddros81

    A particle travels along a plane curve (Polar coordinates)

    Homework Statement 13.24 A particle travels along a plane curve. At a certain instant, the polar components of the velocity and acceleration are vR=90mm/s, vθ=60mm/s, aR=-50mm/s2, and aθ=20mm/s2. Determine the component of acceleration that is tangent to the path of the particle at this...
  37. AutumnWater

    I Q about finding area with double/volume with triple integral

    So when finding the Area from a double integral; or Volume from a triple integral: If the curve/surface has a negative region: (for areas, under the x axis), (for volumes, below z = 0 where z is negative) What circumstances allow the negative regions to be taken into account as positive when...
  38. S

    Object moving on a spiral figure

    Homework Statement We've got an object/person in the center of a cicrcle that spins around with an angular velocity ω. That same object is moving at a constant speed k with the direction of the radius, that is from the center to the outside of the sphere. That object describes then a spiral...
  39. T

    Polar Divergence of a Vector

    Homework Statement Find the divergence of the function ##\vec{v} = (rcos\theta)\hat{r}+(rsin\theta)\hat{\theta}+(rsin\theta cos\phi)\hat{\phi}## Homework Equations ##\nabla\cdot\vec{v}=\frac{1}{r^2}\frac{\partial}{\partial r}(r^2v_r)+\frac{1}{r sin\theta}\frac{\partial}{\partial...
  40. D

    Trying to find this double integral using polar coordinates

    Homework Statement question : find the value of \iint_D \frac{x}{(x^2 + y^2)}dxdy domain : 0≤x≤1,x2≤y≤x Homework Equations The Attempt at a Solution so here, i tried to draw it first and i got that the domain is region in first quadrant bounded by y=x2 and y=x and i decided to...
  41. Mind----Blown

    Significance of terms of acceleration in polar coordinates

    How do i get an idea, or a 'feel' of the components of the acceleration in polar coordinates which constitute the component in the eθ direction? from what i know, a= (r¨−rθ˙^2) er + (rθ¨+ 2r˙θ˙) eθ ; (where er and eθ are unit vectors in the radial direction and the direction of increase of the...
  42. C

    I Limits of integration on Polar curves

    General question, how do you determine the limits of integration of a polar curve? Always found this somewhat confusing and can't seem to find a decent explanation on the internet.
  43. CheeseSandwich

    I Conceptual Question About Polar Coordinate System

    I am learning about the polar coordinate system, and I have a few conceptual questions. I understand that in Cartesian coordinates there is exactly one set of coordinates for any given point. However, in polar coordinates there is an infinite number of coordinates for a given point. I see how...
  44. doktorwho

    Finding the radius of curvature of trajectory

    Homework Statement The functions are given: ##r(t)=pe^{kt}## ##\theta (t)=kt## ##v(r)=\sqrt2kr## ##a(t)=2k^2r## Find the radius of the curvature of the trajectory in the function of ##r## Homework Equations $$R=\frac{(\dot x^2 + \dot y^2)^{3/2}}{(\dot x\ddot y - \ddot x\dot y)}$$ There is also...
  45. doktorwho

    Solving for the trajectory in the polar coordinate system

    Homework Statement On the surface of a river at ##t=0## there is a boat 1 (point ##F_0##) at a distance ##r_0## from the point ##O## (the coordinate beginning) which is on the right side of the coast (picture uploaded below). A line ##OF_0## makes an angle ##θ_0=10°## with the ##x-axis## whose...
  46. G

    Having a hard time writing equations of motion....

    Homework Statement [/B] Homework Equations The Attempt at a Solution [/B]
  47. S

    Equations of Motion of a Mass Attached to Rotating Spring

    1. Homework Statement A particle of mass m is attached to the end of a light spring of equilibrium length a, whose other end is fixed, so that the spring is free to rotate in a horizontal plane. The tension in the spring is k times its extension. Initially the system is at rest and the...
  48. deusy

    Acceleration of the end of a hinged rod in a pulley system

    Homework Statement As shown in image. 2. Homework Equations Moment of inertia of pulley = 1/2*M*R^2 Moment of inertia of rod (about end) = 1/3*M*L^2 Acceleration of end of rod in theta direction = L*α Acceleration of end of rod in radial direction = L*ω^2 The Attempt at a Solution...
  49. P

    Polar coordinates of a vector

    Note: All bold and underlined variables in this post are base vectors I was reading the book 'Introduction To Mechanics' by Kleppner and Kolenkow and came across an example I don't quite understand. The example is this: a bead is moving along the spoke of a wheel at constant speed u m/s. The...
  50. V

    Polar Coordinates

    1. The question The position of a particle is given by r(t) = acos(wt) i + bsin(wt) j. Assume a and b are both positive and a > b. The plane polar coordinates of a particle at a time t equal to 1/8 of the time period T will be given by _ Homework Equations r(t) = acos(wt) i + bsin(wt) j. The...