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General equation of a circle in polar co-ordinate system Let O be the origin, or pole, OX the initial line, C the centre

and a the radius of the circle. Let the polar co-ordinates of C be R and , so that OC = R and XOC = . Let a radius vector through O at an angle with the initial line cut the circle at P and Q. Let OP be r.

Then we have CP2 = OC2 + OP2 2OC . OP cos COP i.e. a2 = R2 + r2 2 Rr cos ( ) i.e. r2 2 Rr cos ( ) + R2 a2 = 0 (1) This is the required polar equation. Particular cases of the general equation in polar coordinates.

Note: 1. Let the initial line be taken to go through the centre C. Then = 0, and the equation becomes r2 2Rr cos + R2 a2 = 0. 2. Let the pole O be taken on the circle, so that R = OC = The general equation the becomes r2 2ar cos ( ) = 0, i.e. r = 2a cos ( ). 3. Let the pole be on the circle and also let the initial line pass through the centre of the circle. In this case = 0, and R = a

Now, the general equation reduces to the simple form r=2a cos

This is at once evident from the figure given above. For, if OCA were a diameter, we have

OP = OA cos , r = 2a cos . Let us consider a circle such that points P(x1, y1) and Q(x2, y2) are on it and PQ is one of the diameters of the circle. If R(x, y) is any point on the circle then


PRQ = /2 (Angle subtended by diameter at any point on the circle is a right angle).


(Slope of QR) x (Slope of PR) = 1

(y-y2)/(x-x2 )(y-y1)/(x-x1 ) = 1

(x x1) (x x2) + (y y1) (y y2) = 0

Which gives the required equation.


This equation can also be obtained considering

PR2 + QR2 = PQ2

The general from of the equation of a circle is:

x2 + y2 + 2gx + 2fy + c = 0 (1)

(x + g)2 + (y + f)2 = g2 + f2 c

Comparing this equation with the standard equation (x xc)2 + (y yc)2 = r2

We have:

Centre of the circle is (g, f), Radius = (g2+f2-c).

Equation (1) is also written as S = 0.


1. If g2 + f2 c > 0, circle is real

2. If g2 + f2 c = 0, circle is a point circle.

3. If g2 + f2 c < 0, the circle is imaginary.

4. Any second-degree equation ax2 + 2hxy + by2 + 2gx + 2fy+c=0 represents a circle only when h = 0 and a = b i.e. if there is no term containing xy and co-efficient of x2 and y2 are same, provided abc + 2fgh af2 bg2 ch2 0

1. The equation of the circle through three non-collinear points

2. The circle x2 + y2 + 2gx + 2fy + c = 0 makes an intercept on x-axis if x2 + 2gx + c = 0 has real roots i.e. if g2 > c. And, the magnitude of the intercept is 2(g2-c).

The Position of a Point with respect to a Circle The point P(x1, y1) lies outside, on, or inside a circle S x2 + y2 + 2gx + 2fy + c = 0, according as S1 x12 + y12 + 2gx1 + 2fy1 + c > = or < 0.