*Macmillan*. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.

This section contains 822 words(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page) |

The polar coordinate system is an adaptation of the two-dimensional coordinate system invented in 1637 by French mathematician René Descartes (1596–1650). Several decades after Descartes published his twodimensional coordinate system, Sir Isaac Newton (1640–1727) developed ten different coordinate systems. One of the ten systems was a polar coordinate system. Newton and others used the polar coordinate system to plot a complex curve known as a spiral. It was Swiss mathematician Jakob Bernoulli (1654–1705) who first used a polar coordinate system for a wider array of calculus problems and coined the terms "pole" and "polar axis" that are still used today in polar coordinate systems.

## Understanding Polar Coordinates

As with the two-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system, one can describe the location of points in a polar coordinate system by means of coordinates. Both systems involve an origin point and axis lines. In the polar coordinate...

This section contains 822 words(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page) |