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0.

1 Polar Coordinates
Consider a rectangular reference system xOy and a circle of radius R centered at (0; 0) .
The distance between the origin (0; 0) and a random point (x; y) is r =
_
x
2
+ y
2
Let t be the angle measured counterclockwise ( trigonometric sense) from the Ox axis.
By projecting onto the axis Ox and Oy we get x = r cos t , y = r sint
y = r sint
x = r cost
(x,y)
(0,0)
x
y
t
r
R
Now in order to cover the entire disk (x; y) R
2
, x
2
+ y
2
_ R
2
it is clear that
r runs from 0 to R and t runs from 0 to 2 , that is r (0; R] and t [0; 2)
Therefore we cover the entire disk using polar coordinates
x = r cos t , y = r sint
Not exactly the entire disk. The "origin" (0; 0) corresponds to r = 0 but there is no denite value for t .
There is also a purely algebraic "trick" to introduce polar coordinates.
The following:
0 _ r
2
= x
2
+ y
2
_ R
2
clearly states that r [0; R]
Next
r
2
= x
2
+ y
2
=
_
x
r
_
2
+
_
y
r
_
2
= 1
Which suggests we may replace
_
x
r
_
2
and
_
y
r
_
2
by (sint)
2
and (cos t)
2
There are many possible choices.
By choosing x = r cos t , y = r sint , we get a representation for a rotation motion
with constant angular speed.
Now this is actually a "change of coordinates",
from the cartesian coordinates (x; y) to polar coordinates (r; t) dende by
x = x(r; t) = r cos t , y = y(r; t) = r sint
This is a function, a "one to one" correspondence,
between the disk (except the center) (x; y) R
2
, x
2
+ y
2
_ R
2
(0; 0) and the rectangle (0; R] [0; 2)
1
However missing just one point is irrelevant when using polar coordinates to compute double integrals.
We may also think in a "practical" manner. An observer sits in the origin (0; 0) and uses polar coordinates to
describe any other point as a "target", except his sitting point (0; 0).
The Jacobi matrix of this function (for polar coordinates) is
J =
_
@x
@r
@x
@t
@y
@r
@y
@t
_
=
_
cos t r sint
sint r cos t
_
and the "jacobian" is
det J =

cos t r sint
sint r cos t

= r
Remark. If you choose the other order for polar coordinates (t; r) we get
J =
_
@x
@t
@x
@r
@y
@t
@y
@r
_
=
_
r sint cot s
r cos t sint
_
and the "jacobian" is
det J =

r sint cot s
r cos t sint

= r
However, this is of no actual importance when using polar coordinates in a change of variables for double
integrals, since we actually use the absolute value of the jacobian
[det J[ = r
Now we consider an ellipse, actually an "elliptic" disk
(x; y) R
2
,
x
2
a
2
+
y
2
b
2
_ 1
x
y
(x,y)
(0,0)
a
b
We use the same algebraic tick as before.
Let
0 _ r
2
=
x
2
a
2
+
y
2
b
2
_ 1
2
clearly r runs from 0 to 1 ,
For r = 0 we get the origin (0; 0) and for r = 1 we get a point on the ellipse.
Just as before we have
r
2
=
x
2
a
2
+
y
2
b
2
= 1 =
_
x
ar
_
2
+
_
y
br
_
2
which suggests we may replace
_
x
ar
_
2
and
_
y
br
_
2
by (sint)
2
and (cos t)
2
Consequently we get the "elliptic" coordinates or "generalised" polar coordinates as
x = ar cos t , y = br sint
To cover the elliptical disk we need r [0; 1] and t [0; 2) .
The corresponding Jacobi matrix is
J =
_
@x
@r
@x
@t
@y
@r
@y
@t
_
=
_
a cos t ar sint
b sint br cos t
_
and the "jacobian" is
det J =

a cos t ar sint
b sint br cos t

= abr
Also note that in this case "t" is no longer the angle with the Ox axis.
However, for t = 0 or t = we get points on the Ox axis, and for t =

2
or
3
2
we get points on the Oy axis.
Application to double integrals.
To compute double integrals (at least for exam problems) the main problem is how to transform the domain
into a rectangle or a projectable domain. Here are a few examples using polar coordinates to realise this.
x x x
y y y
1) 2) 3)
To cover
1) the upper half disk we need r [0; R] and t [0; )
2) the lower half disk we need r [0; R] and t [; 2)
3) the rst quater we need r [0; R] and t [0;

2
)
4) Consider now the domain
D = (x; y) R
2
; x
2
+ y
2
2x _ 0
This turns out to be a circular disk, since we can write equivalently
x
2
+ y
2
2x _ 0 = x
2
2x + 1 + y
2
_ 1 = (x 1)
2
+ y
2
_ 1
a circular disk centered (1; 0) at with radius 1 .
Now we use polar coordinates to cover this disk.
3
y = r sint
x = r cost
x
y
x
y
t
Since the disk is tangent to the Oy axis, it should be easy to gure out that the angle t runs from

2
to

2
,
t [

2
;

2
]
It is helpful to write the inequality by using polar coordinates, that is we replace x = r cos t , y = r sint and
we get
x
2
+ y
2
2x _ 0 = r
2
2r cos t _ 0 = r _ 2 cos t
Now this proves that r runs from 0 to 2 cos t . We see that for each angle t we get diferent values for r ,
for t = 0 we get r = 2 , and clearly r goes to 0 as t goes to

2
or to

2
Therefore, in polar coordinates the domain is transformed into
(r; t) , t [

2
;

2
] , r [0; 2 cos t]
Which leads to the following computation for a double integral
__
D
f(x; y)dxdy =
=2
_
=2
_
_
2 cos t
_
0
f(r cos t; r sint) rdr
_
_
dt
5) The following domain is quite similar.
D = (x; y) R
2
; x
2
+ y
2
2y _ 0
In this case we have a circular disk tangent to the Ox axis.
4
x
y
In polar coordinates the inequality becames
x
2
+ y
2
2y _ 0 = r
2
2r sint _ 0 = r _ 2 sint
Consequently the domain is transformed into
(r; t) , t [0; ] , r [0; 2 sint]
and a double integral computes as follows
__
D
f(x; y)dxdy =

_
0
_
_
2 sin t
_
0
f(r cos t; r sint) rdr
_
_
dt
6) Consider the following domain
D = (x; y) R
2
;
_
x
2
+ y
2
_
2
_ a
2
(x
2
y
2
) , a > 0
Compute the area of this domain.
In other words compute the area of the domain bounded by the curve
_
x
2
+ y
2
_
2
= a
2
(x
2
y
2
)
Polar coordinates are quite helpful in this case.
First let us remark some symmetry properties.
i) We necessarily need x
2
y
2
_ 0 , which means x
2
_ y
2
= [x[ _ [y[ and restricts the domain to the
following zones
5
x
y
ii) we have a "left - right" symmetry, ( symmetry with respect to the Oy axis), since the equation does not
change when replacing x by x
_
(x)
2
+ y
2
_
2
= a
2
[(x)
2
y
2
] =
_
x
2
+ y
2
_
2
= a
2
(x
2
y
2
)
iii) we have an "up - down" symmetry ( symmetry with respect to the Ox axis), since the equation does not
change when replacing y by y
_
x
2
+ (y)
2
_
2
= x
2
(y)
2
=
_
x
2
+ y
2
_
2
= x
2
y
2
Consequently it is enough to sketch the graph for the rst quater (x _ 0 , y _ 0) and by symmetry we get the
whole "picture".
x
y
a
6
Now we use polar coordinates x = r cos t , y = r sint r = x
2
+ y
2
. Therefore, in polar coordinates the
inequality becomes
_
x
2
+ y
2
_
2
_ a
2
(x
2
y
2
) = (r
2
)
2
_ a
2
(r cos
2
t r
2
sin
2
t)
r
2
_ a
2
(cos
2
t sin
2
t) = r
2
_ a
2
cos 2t = r _ a
_
cos 2t
To t in the two zones we described before, we need t [

4
;

4
] and by symmetry also t [
3
4
;
5
4
]
and r [0; a
_
cos 2t]. Note that for t = 0 we get r = a , and as t goes to =4 r goes to 0 .
Computing the area of the domain is now simple, using symmetry it is 4 times the area sitting in the rst quater
area(D) = 4
=4
_
0
_
_
_
a
p
cos 2t
_
0
1 rdr
_
_
_dt = 4
=4
_
0
_
r
2
2
a
p
cos 2t
0

_
dt = 4
=4
_
0
a
2
cos 2t
2
dt = 2a
2
sin2t
2
=4
0

= a
2
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