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Points of intersection of two polar curves
13:15 — by integralCALC

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Key Questions

  • The easiest way is to input the equations into a graphing calculator. Look at the graph to see if both equations traced the same curve OR look at the table to see if for any given x value, the y-values of each equation are equivalent.

  • Answer:

    If the polar equations are #r = f(theta) and r = g(theta)# or, inversely, #theta = f^(-1)(r) and theta = g^(-1)(r)#. eliminate either r or #theta#, solve and substitute in one of the equations..



    Find the points of intersection of the cardioid #r = a( 1 + cos theta )# and the circle r = a.

    Eliminate r.

    The equation for #theta# at a point of intersection is

    # a = a(1+cos theta)#. this is #cos theta = 0, theta = pi/2 and (3pi)/3,

    for one round, #0 to 2pi#..

    The common points are #(a, pi/2) and (a, (3pi)/2)#

  • Yes, they can; for example,

    #r=cos theta#, which looks like:

    enter image source here

    #r=sin(theta-{3pi}/2)#, which looks like:

    enter image source here

    I hope that this was helpful.

  • No. Two curves need not intersect.

    Every curve can be expressed in either polar or rectangular form. Some are simpler in one form than the other, but there are not two classes (or families) of curves.

    The curves #x^2+y^2=1# and #x^2+y^2=9# are concentric circles with unequal radii. They do not intersect.

    In polar form, these are the curves #r=1# and #r=3#. (And, of course, they still do not intersect.)

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