## Coordinate Geometry

### 3.1 Introduction

You have already studied how to locate a point on a number line. You also know how to describe the position of a point on the line. There are many other situations, in which to find a point we are required to describe its position with reference to more than one line. For example, consider the following situations:

**I.** In Fig. 3.1, there is a main road running in the East-West direction and streets with numbering from West to East. Also, on each street, house numbers are marked. To look for a friend’s house here, is it enough to know only one reference point? For instance, if we only know that she lives on Street 2, will we be able to find her house easily? Not as easily as when we know two pieces of information about it, namely, the number of the street on which it is situated, and the house number. If we want to reach the house which is situated in the $2^{\text {nd }}$ street and has the number 5 , first of all we would identify the $2^{\text {nd }}$ street and then the house numbered 5 on it. In Fig. 3.1, H shows the location of the house. Similarly, P shows the location of the house corresponding to Street

Fig. 3.1 number 7 and House number 4.

**II.** Suppose you put a dot on a sheet of paper [Fig.3.2 (a)]. If we ask you to tell us the position of the dot on the paper, how will you do this? Perhaps you will try in some such manner: “The dot is in the upper half of the paper”, or “It is near the left edge of the paper”, or “It is very near the left hand upper corner of the sheet”. Do any of these statements fix the position of the dot precisely? No! But, if you say " The dot is nearly $5 \mathrm{~cm}$ away from the left edge of the paper", it helps to give some idea but still does not fix the position of the dot. A little thought might enable you to say that the dot is also at a distance of $9 \mathrm{~cm}$ above the bottom line. We now know exactly where the dot is!

(a)

(b)

Fig. 3.2

For this purpose, we fixed the position of the dot by specifying its distances from two fixed lines, the left edge of the paper and the bottom line of the paper [Fig.3.2 (b)]. In other words, we need two independent informations for finding the position of the dot.

Now, perform the following classroom activity known as ‘Seating Plan’.

**Activity 1 (Seating Plan) :** Draw a plan of the seating in your classroom, pushing all the desks together. Represent each desk by a square. In each square, write the name of the student occupying the desk, which the square represents. Position of each student in the classroom is described precisely by using two independent informations:

(i) the column in which she or he sits,

(ii) the row in which she or he sits.

If you are sitting on the desk lying in the $5^{\text {th }}$ column and $3^{\text {rd }}$ row (represented by the shaded square in Fig. 3.3), your position could be written as (5,3), first writing the column number, and then the row number. Is this the same as $(3,5)$ ? Write down the names and positions of other students in your class. For example, if Sonia is sitting in the $4^{\text {th }}$ column and $1^{\text {st }}$ row, write $S(4,1)$. The teacher’s desk is not part of your seating plan. We are treating the teacher just as an observer.

T shows teacher’s desk S shows Sonia’s desk

Fig. 3.3

In the discussion above, you observe that position of any object lying in a plane can be represented with the help of two perpendicular lines. In case of ‘dot’, we require distance of the dot from bottom line as well as from left edge of the paper. In case of seating plan, we require the number of the column and that of the row. This simple idea has far reaching consequences, and has given rise to a very important branch of Mathematics known as Coordinate Geometry. In this chapter, we aim to introduce some basic concepts of coordinate geometry. You will study more about these in your higher classes. This study was initially developed by the French philosopher and mathematician René Déscartes.

René Déscartes, the great French mathematician of the seventeenth century, liked to lie in bed and think! One day, when resting in bed, he solved the problem of describing the position of a point in a plane. His method was a development of the older idea of latitude and longitude. In honour of Déscartes, the system used for describing the position of a point in a plane is also known as the Cartesian system.

René Déscartes (1596 -1650)

Fig. 3.4

### 3.2 Cartesian System

You have studied the number line in the chapter on ‘Number System’. On the number line, distances from a fixed point are marked in equal units positively in one direction and negatively in the other. The point from which the distances are marked is called the origin. We use the number line to represent the numbers by marking points on a line at equal distances. If one unit distance represents the number ’ 1 ‘, then 3 units distance represents the number ’ 3 ‘, ’ 0 ’ being at the origin. The point in the positive direction at a distance $r$ from the origin represents the number $r$. The point in the negative direction at a distance $r$ from the origin represents the number $-r$. Locations of different numbers on the number line are shown in Fig. 3.5.

Fig. 3.5

Descartes invented the idea of placing two such lines perpendicular to each other on a plane, and locating points on the plane by referring them to these lines. The perpendicular lines may be in any direction such as in Fig.3.6. But, when we choose

(a)

(b)

(c)

Fig. 3.6 these two lines to locate a point in a plane in this chapter, one line will be horizontal and the other will be vertical, as in Fig. 3.6(c).

These lines are actually obtained as follows: Take two number lines, calling them $\mathrm{X}^{\prime} \mathrm{X}$ and $\mathrm{Y}^{\prime} \mathrm{Y}$. Place $\mathrm{X}^{\prime} \mathrm{X}$ horizontal [as in Fig. 3.7(a)] and write the numbers on it just as written on the number line. We do the same thing with $Y^{\prime} Y$ except that $Y^{\prime} Y$ is vertical, not horizontal [Fig. 3.7(b)].

(a)

(b)

Fig. 3.7

Combine both the lines in such a way that the two lines cross each other at their zeroes, or origins (Fig. 3.8). The horizontal line $\mathrm{X}^{\prime} \mathrm{X}$ is called the $x$ - axis and the vertical line $Y^{\prime}$ is called the $y$-axis. The point where $X^{\prime} X$ and $Y^{\prime} Y$ cross is called the origin, and is denoted by $\mathrm{O}$. Since the positive numbers lie on the directions $\mathrm{OX}$ and $\mathrm{OY}$, $\mathrm{OX}$ and $\mathrm{OY}$ are called the positive directions of the $x$ - axis and the $y$-axis, respectively. Similarly, $\mathrm{OX}^{\prime}$ and $\mathrm{OY}^{\prime}$ are called the negative directions of the $x$ - axis and the $y$-axis, respectively.

Fig. 3.8

You observe that the axes (plural of the word ‘axis’) divide the plane into four parts. These four parts are called the quadrants (one fourth part), numbered I, II, III and IV anticlockwise from OX (see Fig.3.9). So, the plane consists of the axes and these quadrants. We call the plane, the Cartesian plane, or the coordinate plane, or the xy-plane. The axes are called the coordinate axes.

Fig. 3.9

Now, let us see why this system is so basic to mathematics, and how it is useful. Consider the following diagram where the axes are drawn on graph paper. Let us see the distances of the points $\mathrm{P}$ and $\mathrm{Q}$ from the axes. For this, we draw perpendiculars PM on the $x$ - axis and PN on the $y$ - axis. Similarly, we draw perpendiculars QR and QS as shown in Fig. 3.10.

Fig.3.10

You find that

(i) The perpendicular distance of the point $\mathrm{P}$ from the $y$-axis measured along the positive direction of the $x$ - axis is $\mathrm{PN}=\mathrm{OM}=4$ units.

(ii) The perpendicular distance of the point $\mathrm{P}$ from the $x$ - axis measured along the positive direction of the $y$-axis is $\mathrm{PM}=\mathrm{ON}=3$ units.

(iii) The perpendicular distance of the point $\mathrm{Q}$ from the $y$ - axis measured along the negative direction of the $x$ - axis is $\mathrm{OR}=\mathrm{SQ}=6$ units.

(iv) The perpendicular distance of the point $\mathrm{Q}$ from the $x$ - axis measured along the negative direction of the $y$ - axis is $\mathrm{OS}=\mathrm{RQ}=2$ units.

Now, using these distances, how can we describe the points so that there is no confusion?

We write the coordinates of a point, using the following conventions:

(i) The $x$ - coordinate of a point is its perpendicular distance from the $y$ - axis measured along the $x$-axis (positive along the positive direction of the $x$-axis and negative along the negative direction of the $x$-axis). For the point $\mathrm{P}$, it is +4 and for $\mathrm{Q}$, it is -6 . The $x$ - coordinate is also called the abscissa.

(ii) The $y$ - coordinate of a point is its perpendicular distance from the $x$ - axis measured along the $y$ - axis (positive along the positive direction of the $y$ - axis and negative along the negative direction of the $y$-axis). For the point $\mathrm{P}$, it is +3 and for $\mathrm{Q}$, it is -2 . The $y$ - coordinate is also called the ordinate.

(iii) In stating the coordinates of a point in the coordinate plane, the $x$ - coordinate comes first, and then the $y$-coordinate. We place the coordinates in brackets.

Hence, the coordinates of $\mathrm{P}$ are $(4,3)$ and the coordinates of $\mathrm{Q}$ are $(-6,-2)$.

Note that the coordinates describe a point in the plane uniquely. $(3,4)$ is not the same as $(4,3)$.

Since every point on the $x$ - axis has no distance (zero distance) from the $x$ - axis, therefore, the $y$-coordinate of every point lying on the $x$ - axis is always zero. Thus, the coordinates of any point on the $x$ - axis are of the form $(x, 0)$, where $x$ is the distance of the point from the $y$-axis. Similarly, the coordinates of any point on the $y$-axis are of the form $(0, y)$, where $y$ is the distance of the point from the $x$ - axis. Why?

What are the coordinates of the origin $\mathbf{O}$ ? It has zero distance from both the axes so that its abscissa and ordinate are both zero. Therefore, the coordinates of the origin are $(\mathbf{0}, \mathbf{0})$.

In the examples above, you may have observed the following relationship between the signs of the coordinates of a point and the quadrant of a point in which it lies.

(i) If a point is in the 1st quadrant, then the point will be in the form $(+,+)$, since the 1st quadrant is enclosed by the positive $x$ - axis and the positive $y$ - axis.

(ii) If a point is in the 2 nd quadrant, then the point will be in the form $(-,+)$, since the 2nd quadrant is enclosed by the negative $x$ - axis and the positive $y$-axis.

(iii) If a point is in the 3 rd quadrant, then the point will be in the form $(-,-)$, since the 3 rd quadrant is enclosed by the negative $x$ - axis and the negative $y$-axis.

(iv) If a point is in the 4th quadrant, then the point will be in the form $(+,-)$, since the 4th quadrant is enclosed by the positive $x$ - axis and the negative $y$ - axis (see Fig. 3.13).

Fig. 3.13

**Remark :** The system we have discussed above for describing a point in a plane is only a convention, which is accepted all over the world. The system could also have been, for example, the ordinate first, and the abscissa second. However, the whole world sticks to the system we have described to avoid any confusion.

##### Summary

In this chapter, you have studied the following points :

**1.** To locate the position of an object or a point in a plane, we require two perpendicular lines. One of them is horizontal, and the other is vertical.

**2.** The plane is called the Cartesian, or coordinate plane and the lines are called the coordinate axes.

**3.** The horizontal line is called the $x$-axis, and the vertical line is called the $y$-axis.

**4.** The coordinate axes divide the plane into four parts called quadrants.

**5.** The point of intersection of the axes is called the origin.

**6.** The distance of a point from the $y$-axis is called its $x$-coordinate, or abscissa, and the distance of the point from the $x$-axis is called its $y$-coordinate, or ordinate.

**7.** If the abscissa of a point is $x$ and the ordinate is $y$, then $(x, y)$ are called the coordinates of the point.

**8.** The coordinates of a point on the $x$-axis are of the form $(x, 0)$ and that of the point on the $y$-axis are $(0, y)$.

**9.** The coordinates of the origin are $(0,0)$.

**10.** The coordinates of a point are of the form $(+,+)$ in the first quadrant, $(-,+)$ in the second quadrant, $(-,-)$ in the third quadrant and $(+,-)$ in the fourth quadrant, where + denotes a positive real number and - denotes a negative real number.

**11.** If $x \neq y$, then $(x, y) \neq(y, x)$, and $(x, y)=(y, x)$, if $x=y$.