In Euclidean geometry, an angle is the figure formed by two rays, called the sides of the angle, sharing a common endpoint, called the vertex of the angle.Angles formed by two rays lie in the plane that contains the rays. Angles are also formed by the intersection of two planes. These are called dihedral angles. Two intersecting curves define also an angle, which is the angle of the tangents at the intersection point. For example, the spherical angle formed by two great circles on a sphere equals the dihedral angle between the planes containing the great circles.
Angle is also used to designate the measure of an angle or of a rotation. This measure is the ratio of the length of a circular arc to its radius. In the case of a geometric angle, the arc is centered at the vertex and delimited by the sides. In the case of a rotation, the arc is centered at the center of the rotation and delimited by any other point and its image by the rotation.
The word angle comes from the Latin word angulus, meaning "corner"; cognate words are the Greek ἀγκύλος(ankylοs), meaning "crooked, curved," and the English word "ankle". Both are connected with the Proto-Indo-European root *ank-, meaning "to bend" or "bow".
Euclid defines a plane angle as the inclination to each other, in a plane, of two lines which meet each other, and do not lie straight with respect to each other. According to Proclus, an angle must be either a quality or a quantity, or a relationship. The first concept was used by Eudemus, who regarded an angle as a deviation from a straight line; the second by Carpus of Antioch, who regarded it as the interval or space between the intersecting lines; Euclid adopted the third concept.
In mathematical expressions, it is common to use Greek letters (α, β, γ, θ, φ, . . . ) as variables denoting the size of some angle (to avoid confusion with its other meaning, the symbol π is typically not used for this purpose). Lower case Roman letters (a, b, c, . . . ) are also used, as are upper case Roman letters in the context of polygons. See the figures in this article for examples.
In geometric figures, angles may also be identified by the labels attached to the three points that define them. For example, the angle at vertex A enclosed by the rays AB and AC (i.e. the lines from point A to point B and point A to point C) is denoted ∠BAC (in Unicode U+2220∠ANGLE) or . Where there is no risk of confusion, the angle may sometimes be referred to simply by its vertex (in this case "angle A").
Potentially, an angle denoted as, say, ∠BAC, might refer to any of four angles: the clockwise angle from B to C, the anticlockwise angle from B to C, the clockwise angle from C to B, or the anticlockwise angle from C to B, where the direction in which the angle is measured determines its sign (see Positive and negative angles). However, in many geometrical situations, it is obvious from context that the positive angle less than or equal to 180 degrees is meant, in which case no ambiguity arises. Otherwise, a convention may be adopted so that ∠BAC always refers to the anticlockwise (positive) angle from B to C, and ∠CAB the anticlockwise (positive) angle from C to B.
There is some common terminology for angles, whose measure is always non-negative (see #Positive and negative angles):
The names, intervals, and measuring units are shown in the table below:
|Turns||0||(0, 1/)||1/||(1/, 1/)||1/||(1/, 1)||1|
|Radians||0||(0, 1/π)||1/π||(1/π, π)||π||(π, 2π)||2π|
|Degrees||0°||(0, 90)°||90°||(90, 180)°||180°||(180, 360)°||360°|
|Gons||0g||(0, 100)g||100g||(100, 200)g||200g||(200, 400)g||400g|
When two straight lines intersect at a point, four angles are formed. Pairwise these angles are named according to their location relative to each other.
A transversal is a line that intersects a pair of (often parallel) lines, and is associated with alternate interior angles, corresponding angles, interior angles, and exterior angles.
Three special angle pairs involve the summation of angles:
The size of a geometric angle is usually characterized by the magnitude of the smallest rotation that maps one of the rays into the other. Angles that have the same size are said to be equal or congruent or equal in measure.
In some contexts, such as identifying a point on a circle or describing the orientation of an object in two dimensions relative to a reference orientation, angles that differ by an exact multiple of a full turn are effectively equivalent. In other contexts, such as identifying a point on a spiral curve or describing the cumulative rotation of an object in two dimensions relative to a reference orientation, angles that differ by a non-zero multiple of a full turn are not equivalent.
In order to measure an angle θ , a circular arc centered at the vertex of the angle is drawn, e.g. with a pair of compasses. The ratio of the length s of the arc by the radius r of the circle is the measure of the angle in radians.
The measure of the angle in another angular unit is then obtained by multiplying its measure in radians by the scaling factor k/, where k is the measure of a complete turn in the chosen unit (for example 360 for degrees or 400 for gradians):
The value of θ thus defined is independent of the size of the circle: if the length of the radius is changed then the arc length changes in the same proportion, so the ratio s/r is unaltered. (Proof. The formula above can be rewritten as k = θr/. One turn, for which θ = n units, corresponds to an arc equal in length to the circle's circumference, which is 2πr, so s = 2πr. Substituting n for θ and 2πr for s in the formula, results in k = nr/ = n/.)
The angle addition postulate states that if B is in the interior of angle AOC, then
The measure of the angle AOC is the sum of the measure of angle AOB and the measure of angle BOC. In this postulate it does not matter in which unit the angle is measured as long as each angle is measured in the same unit.
Units used to represent angles are listed below in descending magnitude order. Of these units, the degree and the radian are by far the most commonly used. Angles expressed in radians are dimensionless for dimensional analysis.
Most units of angular measurement are defined such that one turn (i.e. one full circle) is equal to n units, for some whole number n. The two exceptions are the radian and the diameter part.
Although the definition of the measurement of an angle does not support the concept of a negative angle, it is frequently useful to impose a convention that allows positive and negative angular values to represent orientations and/or rotations in opposite directions relative to some reference.
In a two-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system, an angle is typically defined by its two sides, with its vertex at the origin. The initial side is on the positive x-axis, while the other side or terminal side is defined by the measure from the initial side in radians, degrees, or turns. With positive angles representing rotations toward the positive y-axis and negative angles representing rotations toward the negative y-axis. When Cartesian coordinates are represented by standard position, defined by the x-axis rightward and the y-axis upward, positive rotations are anticlockwise and negative rotations are clockwise.
In many contexts, an angle of −θ is effectively equivalent to an angle of "one full turn minus θ". For example, an orientation represented as −45° is effectively equivalent to an orientation represented as 360° − 45° or 315°. Although the final position is the same, a physical rotation (movement) of −45° is not the same as a rotation of 315° (for example, the rotation of a person holding a broom resting on a dusty floor would leave visually different traces of swept regions on the floor).
In three-dimensional geometry, "clockwise" and "anticlockwise" have no absolute meaning, so the direction of positive and negative angles must be defined relative to some reference, which is typically a vector passing through the angle's vertex and perpendicular to the plane in which the rays of the angle lie.
In navigation, bearings or azimuth are measured relative to north. By convention, viewed from above, bearing angles are positive clockwise, so a bearing of 45° corresponds to a north-east orientation. Negative bearings are not used in navigation, so a north-west orientation corresponds to a bearing of 315°.
There are several alternatives to measuring the size of an angle by the angle of rotation. The grade of a slope , or gradient is equal to the tangent of the angle, or sometimes (rarely) the sine. A gradient is often expressed as a percentage. For very small values (less than 5%), the grade of a slope is approximately the measure of the angle in radians.
In rational geometry the spread between two lines is defined as the square of the sine of the angle between the lines. As the sine of an angle and the sine of its supplementary angle are the same, any angle of rotation that maps one of the lines into the other leads to the same value for the spread between the lines.
Astronomers measure angular separation of objects in degrees from their point of observation.
These measurements clearly depend on the individual subject, and the above should be treated as rough rule of thumb approximations only.
The angle between a line and a curve (mixed angle) or between two intersecting curves (curvilinear angle) is defined to be the angle between the tangents at the point of intersection. Various names (now rarely, if ever, used) have been given to particular cases:—amphicyrtic (Gr. ἀμφί, on both sides, κυρτός, convex) or cissoidal (Gr. κισσός, ivy), biconvex; xystroidal or sistroidal (Gr. ξυστρίς, a tool for scraping), concavo-convex; amphicoelic (Gr. κοίλη, a hollow) or angulus lunularis, biconcave.
The ancient Greek mathematicians knew how to bisect an angle (divide it into two angles of equal measure) using only a compass and straightedge, but could only trisect certain angles. In 1837 Pierre Wantzel showed that for most angles this construction cannot be performed.
In the Euclidean space, the angle θ between two Euclidean vectors u and v is related to their dot product and their lengths by the formula
This formula supplies an easy method to find the angle between two planes (or curved surfaces) from their normal vectors and between skew lines from their vector equations.
To define angles in an abstract real inner product space, we replace the Euclidean dot product ( · ) by the inner product , i.e.
In a complex inner product space, the expression for the cosine above may give non-real values, so it is replaced with
or, more commonly, using the absolute value, with
The latter definition ignores the direction of the vectors and thus describes the angle between one-dimensional subspaces and spanned by the vectors and correspondingly.
The definition of the angle between one-dimensional subspaces and given by
in a Hilbert space can be extended to subspaces of any finite dimensions. Given two subspaces , with , this leads to a definition of angles called canonical or principal angles between subspaces.
In Riemannian geometry, the metric tensor is used to define the angle between two tangents. Where U and V are tangent vectors and gij are the components of the metric tensor G,
A hyperbolic angle is an argument of a hyperbolic function just as the circular angle is the argument of a circular function. The comparison can be visualized as the size of the openings of a hyperbolic sector and a circular sector since the areas of these sectors correspond to the angle magnitudes in each case. Unlike the circular angle, the hyperbolic angle is unbounded. When the circular and hyperbolic functions are viewed as infinite series in their angle argument, the circular ones are just alternating series forms of the hyperbolic functions. This weaving of the two types of angle and function was explained by Leonhard Euler in Introduction to the Analysis of the Infinite .
In geography, the location of any point on the Earth can be identified using a geographic coordinate system . This system specifies the latitude and longitude of any location in terms of angles subtended at the center of the Earth, using the equator and (usually) the Greenwich meridian as references.
In astronomy, a given point on the celestial sphere (that is, the apparent position of an astronomical object) can be identified using any of several astronomical coordinate systems , where the references vary according to the particular system. Astronomers measure the angular separation of two stars by imagining two lines through the center of the Earth, each intersecting one of the stars. The angle between those lines can be measured and is the angular separation between the two stars.
In both geography and astronomy, a sighting direction can be specified in terms of a vertical angle such as altitude /elevation with respect to the horizon as well as the azimuth with respect to north.
Astronomers also measure the apparent size of objects as an angular diameter. For example, the full moon has an angular diameter of approximately 0.5°, when viewed from Earth. One could say, "The Moon's diameter subtends an angle of half a degree." The small-angle formula can be used to convert such an angular measurement into a distance/size ratio.
In mathematics, the polar coordinate system is a two-dimensional coordinate system in which each point on a plane is determined by a distance from a reference point and an angle from a reference direction. The reference point is called the pole, and the ray from the pole in the reference direction is the polar axis. The distance from the pole is called the radial coordinate, radial distance or simply radius, and the angle is called the angular coordinate, polar angle, or azimuth. The radial coordinate is often denoted by r or ρ, and the angular coordinate by φ, θ, or t. Angles in polar notation are generally expressed in either degrees or radians.
The radian, denoted by the symbol , is the SI unit for measuring angles, and is the standard unit of angular measure used in many areas of mathematics. The unit was formerly an SI supplementary unit and the radian is now considered an SI derived unit. The radian is defined in the SI as being a dimensionless value, and its symbol is accordingly often omitted, especially in mathematical writing.
The steradian or square radian is the SI unit of solid angle. It is used in three-dimensional geometry, and is analogous to the radian, which quantifies planar angles. Whereas an angle in radians, projected onto a circle, gives a length on the circumference, a solid angle in steradians, projected onto a sphere, gives an area on the surface. The name is derived from the Greek στερεός stereos 'solid' + radian.
In mathematics, a spherical coordinate system is a coordinate system for three-dimensional space where the position of a point is specified by three numbers: the radial distance of that point from a fixed origin, its polar angle measured from a fixed zenith direction, and the azimuthal angle of its orthogonal projection on a reference plane that passes through the origin and is orthogonal to the zenith, measured from a fixed reference direction on that plane. It can be seen as the three-dimensional version of the polar coordinate system.
Angular displacement of a body is the angle in radians through which a point revolves around a centre or line has been rotated in a specified sense about a specified axis. When a body rotates about its axis, the motion cannot simply be analyzed as a particle, as in circular motion it undergoes a changing velocity and acceleration at any time (t). When dealing with the rotation of a body, it becomes simpler to consider the body itself rigid. A body is generally considered rigid when the separations between all the particles remains constant throughout the body's motion, so for example parts of its mass are not flying off. In a realistic sense, all things can be deformable, however this impact is minimal and negligible. Thus the rotation of a rigid body over a fixed axis is referred to as rotational motion.
Angle trisection is a classical problem of compass and straightedge constructions of ancient Greek mathematics. It concerns construction of an angle equal to one third of a given arbitrary angle, using only two tools: an unmarked straightedge and a compass.
In geometry, a solid angle is a measure of the amount of the field of view from some particular point that a given object covers. That is, it is a measure of how large the object appears to an observer looking from that point. The point from which the object is viewed is called the apex of the solid angle, and the object is said to subtend its solid angle from that point.
Unit quaternions, known as versors, provide a convenient mathematical notation for representing spatial orientations and rotations of elements in three dimensional space. Specifically, they encode information about an axis-angle rotation about an arbitrary axis. Rotation and orientation quaternions have applications in computer graphics, computer vision, robotics, navigation, molecular dynamics, flight dynamics, orbital mechanics of satellites and crystallographic texture analysis.
Elliptic geometry is an example of a geometry in which Euclid's parallel postulate does not hold. Instead, as in spherical geometry, there are no parallel lines since any two lines must intersect. However, unlike in spherical geometry, two lines are usually assumed to intersect at a single point. Because of this, the elliptic geometry described in this article is sometimes referred to as single elliptic geometry whereas spherical geometry is sometimes referred to as double elliptic geometry.
A chord of a circle is a straight line segment whose endpoints both lie on a circular arc. The infinite line extension of a chord is a secant line, or just secant. More generally, a chord is a line segment joining two points on any curve, for instance, an ellipse. A chord that passes through a circle's center point is the circle's diameter. The word chord is from the Latin chorda meaning bowstring.
In geometry, a circular segment is a region of a circle which is "cut off" from the rest of the circle by a secant or a chord. More formally, a circular segment is a region of two-dimensional space that is bounded by an arc of a circle and by the chord connecting the endpoints of the arc.
A central angle is an angle whose apex (vertex) is the center O of a circle and whose legs (sides) are radii intersecting the circle in two distinct points A and B. Central angles are subtended by an arc between those two points, and the arc length is the central angle of a circle of radius one. The central angle is also known as the arc's angular distance.
In geometry, the area enclosed by a circle of radius r is πr2. Here the Greek letter π represents the constant ratio of the circumference of any circle to its diameter, approximately equal to 3.14159.
Arc length is the distance between two points along a section of a curve.
In mathematics, a versor is a quaternion of norm one.
In mathematics, the sine is a trigonometric function of an angle. The sine of an acute angle is defined in the context of a right triangle: for the specified angle, it is the ratio of the length of the side that is opposite that angle, to the length of the longest side of the triangle. For an angle , the sine function is denoted simply as .
A circular arc is the arc of a circle between a pair of distinct points. If the two points are not directly opposite each other, one of these arcs, the minor arc, will subtend an angle at the centre of the circle that is less than π radians, and the other arc, the major arc, will subtend an angle greater than π radians.
In geometry, various formalisms exist to express a rotation in three dimensions as a mathematical transformation. In physics, this concept is applied to classical mechanics where rotational kinematics is the science of quantitative description of a purely rotational motion. The orientation of an object at a given instant is described with the same tools, as it is defined as an imaginary rotation from a reference placement in space, rather than an actually observed rotation from a previous placement in space.
In mathematics, the axis–angle representation of a rotation parameterizes a rotation in a three-dimensional Euclidean space by two quantities: a unit vector e indicating the direction of an axis of rotation, and an angle θ describing the magnitude of the rotation about the axis. Only two numbers, not three, are needed to define the direction of a unit vector e rooted at the origin because the magnitude of e is constrained. For example, the elevation and azimuth angles of e suffice to locate it in any particular Cartesian coordinate frame.
Throughout history, angles have been measured in many different units. These are known as angular units, with the most contemporary units being the degree, the radian (rad), and the gradian (grad), though many others have been used throughout history. The purpose of this page is to aggregate other concepts pertaining to the angular unit, where additional explanation can be provided.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), "Angle", Encyclopædia Britannica , 2 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 14
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