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A **rotation** is a circular movement of an object around a center (or point) of rotation. A three-dimensional object can always be rotated about an infinite number of imaginary lines called *rotation axis* ( /ˈæksiːz/ *AK-seez*). If the axis passes through the body's center of mass, the body is said to rotate upon itself, or spin. A rotation around an external point, e.g. the planet Earth around the Sun, is called a *revolution* or * orbital revolution*, typically when it is produced by gravity. The axis is called a **pole**.

- Mathematics
- Astronomy
- Rotation and revolution
- Retrograde rotation
- Physics
- Cosmological principle
- Euler rotations
- Flight dynamics
- Amusement rides
- Sports
- Fixed axis vs. fixed point
- Axis of 2 dimensional rotations
- Rotation angle and axis in 3 dimensions
- Rotation plane
- See also
- References
- External links

Mathematically, a rotation is a rigid body movement which, unlike a translation, keeps a point fixed. This definition applies to rotations within both two and three dimensions (in a plane and in space, respectively.)

All rigid body movements are rotations, translations, or combinations of the two.

A rotation is simply a progressive radial orientation to a common point. That common point lies within the axis of that motion. The axis is 90 degrees perpendicular to the plane of the motion. If the axis of the rotation lies external of the body in question then the body is said to orbit. There is no fundamental difference between a “rotation” and an “orbit” and or "spin". The key distinction is simply where the axis of the rotation lies, either within or outside of a body in question. This distinction can be demonstrated for both “rigid” and “non rigid” bodies.

If a rotation around a point or axis is followed by a second rotation around the same point/axis, a third rotation results. The reverse (inverse) of a rotation is also a rotation. Thus, the rotations around a point/axis form a group. However, a rotation around a point or axis and a rotation around a different point/axis may result in something other than a rotation, e.g. a translation.

Rotations around the *x*, *y* and *z* axes are called *principal rotations*. Rotation around any axis can be performed by taking a rotation around the *x* axis, followed by a rotation around the *y* axis, and followed by a rotation around the *z* axis. That is to say, any spatial rotation can be decomposed into a combination of principal rotations.

In flight dynamics, the principal rotations are known as *yaw*, *pitch*, and *roll* (known as Tait–Bryan angles). This terminology is also used in computer graphics.

In astronomy, rotation is a commonly observed phenomenon. Stars, planets and similar bodies all spin around on their axes. The rotation rate of planets in the solar system was first measured by tracking visual features. Stellar rotation is measured through Doppler shift or by tracking active surface features.

This rotation induces a centrifugal acceleration in the reference frame of the Earth which slightly counteracts the effect of gravity the closer one is to the equator. One effect is that an object weighs slightly less at the equator. Another is that the Earth is slightly deformed into an oblate spheroid.

Another consequence of the rotation of a planet is the phenomenon of precession. Like a gyroscope, the overall effect is a slight "wobble" in the movement of the axis of a planet. Currently the tilt of the Earth's axis to its orbital plane (obliquity of the ecliptic) is 23.44 degrees, but this angle changes slowly (over thousands of years). (See also Precession of the equinoxes and Pole star.)

While revolution is often used as a synonym for rotation, in many fields, particularly astronomy and related fields, revolution, often referred to as orbital revolution for clarity, is used when one body moves around another while rotation is used to mean the movement around an axis. Moons revolve around their planet, planets revolve about their star (such as the Earth around the Sun); and stars slowly revolve about their galaxial center. The motion of the components of galaxies is complex, but it usually includes a rotation component.

Most planets in our solar system, including Earth, spin in the same direction as they orbit the Sun. The exceptions are Venus and Uranus. Uranus rotates nearly on its side relative to its orbit. Current speculation is that Uranus started off with a typical prograde orientation and was knocked on its side by a large impact early in its history. Venus may be thought of as rotating slowly backward (or being "upside down"). The dwarf planet Pluto (formerly considered a planet) is anomalous in this and other ways.

The speed of rotation is given by the angular frequency (rad/s) or frequency (turns per time), or period (seconds, days, etc.). The time-rate of change of angular frequency is angular acceleration (rad/s²), caused by torque. The ratio of the two (how heavy is it to start, stop, or otherwise change rotation) is given by the moment of inertia.

The angular velocity vector (an * axial vector *) also describes the direction of the axis of rotation. Similarly the torque is an axial vector.

The physics of the rotation around a fixed axis is mathematically described with the axis–angle representation of rotations. According to the right-hand rule, the direction away from the observer is associated with clockwise rotation and the direction towards the observer with counterclockwise rotation, like a screw.

The laws of physics are currently believed to be invariant under any fixed rotation. (Although they do appear to change when viewed from a rotating viewpoint: see rotating frame of reference.)

In modern physical cosmology, the cosmological principle is the notion that the distribution of matter in the universe is homogeneous and isotropic when viewed on a large enough scale, since the forces are expected to act uniformly throughout the universe and have no preferred direction, and should, therefore, produce no observable irregularities in the large scale structuring over the course of evolution of the matter field that was initially laid down by the Big Bang.

In particular, for a system which behaves the same regardless of how it is oriented in space, its Lagrangian is rotationally invariant. According to Noether's theorem, if the action (the integral over time of its Lagrangian) of a physical system is invariant under rotation, then angular momentum is conserved.

Euler rotations provide an alternative description of a rotation. It is a composition of three rotations defined as the movement obtained by changing one of the Euler angles while leaving the other two constant. Euler rotations are never expressed in terms of the external frame, or in terms of the co-moving rotated body frame, but in a mixture. They constitute a mixed axes of rotation system, where the first angle moves the line of nodes around the external axis *z*, the second rotates around the line of nodes and the third one is an intrinsic rotation around an axis fixed in the body that moves.

These rotations are called precession, nutation, and *intrinsic rotation*.

In flight dynamics, the principal rotations described with Euler angles above are known as *pitch*, *roll* and *yaw*. The term rotation is also used in aviation to refer to the upward pitch (nose moves up) of an aircraft, particularly when starting the climb after takeoff.

Principal rotations have the advantage of modelling a number of physical systems such as gimbals, and joysticks, so are easily visualised, and are a very compact way of storing a rotation. But they are difficult to use in calculations as even simple operations like combining rotations are expensive to do, and suffer from a form of gimbal lock where the angles cannot be uniquely calculated for certain rotations.

Many amusement rides provide rotation. A Ferris wheel has a horizontal central axis, and parallel axes for each gondola, where the rotation is opposite, by gravity or mechanically. As a result, at any time the orientation of the gondola is upright (not rotated), just translated. The tip of the translation vector describes a circle. A carousel provides rotation about a vertical axis. Many rides provide a combination of rotations about several axes. In Chair-O-Planes the rotation about the vertical axis is provided mechanically, while the rotation about the horizontal axis is due to the centripetal force. In roller coaster inversions the rotation about the horizontal axis is one or more full cycles, where inertia keeps people in their seats.

Rotation of a ball or other object, usually called *spin*, plays a role in many sports, including topspin and backspin in tennis, *English*, *follow* and *draw* in billiards and pool, curve balls in baseball, spin bowling in cricket, flying disc sports, etc. Table tennis paddles are manufactured with different surface characteristics to allow the player to impart a greater or lesser amount of spin to the ball.

Rotation of a player one or more times around a vertical axis may be called *spin* in figure skating, *twirling* (of the baton or the performer) in baton twirling, or *360*, *540*, *720*, etc. in snowboarding, etc. Rotation of a player or performer one or more times around a horizontal axis may be called a flip, roll, somersault, *heli*, etc. in gymnastics, waterskiing, or many other sports, or a *one-and-a-half*, *two-and-a-half*, *gainer* (starting facing away from the water), etc. in diving, etc. A combination of vertical and horizontal rotation (back flip with 360°) is called a *möbius* in waterskiing freestyle jumping.

Rotation of a player around a vertical axis, generally between 180 and 360 degrees, may be called a *spin move* and is used as a deceptive or avoidance maneuver, or in an attempt to play, pass, or receive a ball or puck, etc., or to afford a player a view of the goal or other players. It is often seen in hockey, basketball, football of various codes, tennis, etc.

The *end result* of any sequence of rotations of any object in 3D about a fixed point is always equivalent to a rotation about an axis. However, an object may *physically* rotate in 3D about a fixed point on more than one axis simultaneously, in which case there is no single fixed axis of rotation - just the fixed point. However, these two descriptions can be reconciled - such a physical motion can always be re-described in terms of a single axis of rotation, provided the orientation of that axis relative to the object is allowed to change moment by moment.

2 dimensional rotations, unlike the 3 dimensional ones, possess no axis of rotation. This is equivalent, for linear transformations, with saying that there is no direction in the place which is kept unchanged by a 2 dimensional rotation, except, of course, the identity.

The question of the existence of such a direction is the question of existence of an eigenvector for the matrix A representing the rotation. Every 2D rotation around the origin through an angle in counterclockwise direction can be quite simply represented by the following matrix:

A standard eigenvalue determination leads to the characteristic equation

- ,

which has

as its eigenvalues. Therefore, there is no real eigenvalue whenever , meaning that no real vector in the plane is kept unchanged by A.

Knowing that the trace is an invariant, the rotation angle for a proper orthogonal 3x3 rotation matrix is found by

Using the principal arc-cosine, this formula gives a rotation angle satisfying . The corresponding rotation axis must be defined to point in a direction that limits the rotation angle to not exceed 180 degrees. (This can always be done because any rotation of more than 180 degrees about an axis can always be written as a rotation having if the axis is replaced with .)

Every proper rotation in 3D space has an axis of rotation, which is defined such that any vector that is aligned with the rotation axis will not be affected by rotation. Accordingly, , and the rotation axis therefore corresponds to an eigenvector of the rotation matrix associated with an eigenvalue of 1. As long as the rotation angle is nonzero (i.e., the rotation is not the identity tensor), there is one and only one such direction. Because A has only real components, there is at least one real eigenvalue, and the remaining two eigenvalues must be complex conjugates of each other (see Eigenvalues and eigenvectors#Eigenvalues and the characteristic polynomial). Knowing that 1 is an eigenvalue, it follows that the remaining two eigenvalues are complex conjugates of each other, but this does not imply that they are complex—they could be real with double multiplicity. In the degenerate case of a rotation angle , the remaining two eigenvalues are both equal to -1. In the degenerate case of a zero rotation angle, the rotation matrix is the identity, and all three eigenvalues are 1 (which is the only case for which the rotation axis is arbitrary).

A spectral analysis is not required to find the rotation axis. If denotes the unit eigenvector aligned with the rotation axis, and if denotes the rotation angle, then it can be shown that . Consequently, the expense of an eigenvalue analysis can be avoided by simply normalizing this vector *if it has a nonzero magnitude.* On the other hand, if this vector has a zero magnitude, it means that . In other words, this vector will be zero if and only if the rotation angle is 0 or 180 degrees, and the rotation axis may be assigned in this case by normalizing any column of that has a nonzero magnitude.^{ [2] }

This discussion applies to a proper rotation, and hence . Any improper orthogonal 3x3 matrix may be written as , in which is proper orthogonal. That is, any improper orthogonal 3x3 matrix may be decomposed as a proper rotation (from which an axis of rotation can be found as described above) followed by an inversion (multiplication by -1). It follows that the rotation axis of is also the eigenvector of corresponding to an eigenvalue of -1.

As much as every tridimensional rotation has a rotation axis, also every tridimensional rotation has a plane, which is perpendicular to the rotation axis, and which is left invariant by the rotation. The rotation, restricted to this plane, is an ordinary 2D rotation.

The proof proceeds similarly to the above discussion. First, suppose that all eigenvalues of the 3D rotation matrix A are real. This means that there is an orthogonal basis, made by the corresponding eigenvectors (which are necessarily orthogonal), over which the effect of the rotation matrix is just stretching it. If we write A in this basis, it is diagonal; but a diagonal orthogonal matrix is made of just +1's and -1's in the diagonal entries. Therefore, we don't have a proper rotation, but either the identity or the result of a sequence of reflections.

It follows, then, that a proper rotation has some complex eigenvalue. Let v be the corresponding eigenvector. Then, as we showed in the previous topic, is also an eigenvector, and and are such that their scalar product vanishes:

because, since is real, it equals its complex conjugate , and and are both representations of the same scalar product between and .

This means and are orthogonal vectors. Also, they are both real vectors by construction. These vectors span the same subspace as and , which is an invariant subspace under the application of A. Therefore, they span an invariant plane.

This plane is orthogonal to the invariant axis, which corresponds to the remaining eigenvector of A, with eigenvalue 1, because of the orthogonality of the eigenvectors of A.

- Absolute rotation – Rotation independent of any external reference
- Balancing machine
- Circular motion – Object movement along a circular path
- Mach's principle – Concept of absolute rotation
- Nanodumbbell, the fastest rotation object
- Orientation (geometry) – Notion of pointing in a direction
- Rolling
- Rotation around a fixed axis
- Rotation formalisms in three dimensions – ways to represent 3D rotations
- Rotating locomotion in living systems – Propulsion of living organisms via rotation of the whole body or a body part
- Top
- Truck bolster

**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.

In linear algebra, an **orthogonal matrix** is a square matrix whose columns and rows are orthogonal unit vectors.

In mechanics and geometry, the **3D rotation group**, often denoted **SO(3)**, is the group of all rotations about the origin of three-dimensional Euclidean space under the operation of composition. By definition, a rotation about the origin is a transformation that preserves the origin, Euclidean distance, and orientation. Every non-trivial rotation is determined by its axis of rotation and its angle of rotation. Composing two rotations results in another rotation; every rotation has a unique inverse rotation; and the identity map satisfies the definition of a rotation. Owing to the above properties, the set of all rotations is a group under composition. Rotations are not commutative, making it a nonabelian group. Moreover, the rotation group has a natural structure as a manifold for which the group operations are smoothly differentiable; so it is in fact a Lie group. It is compact and has dimension 3.

Unit quaternions, also known as versors, provide a convenient mathematical notation for representing orientations and rotations of objects in three dimensions. Compared to Euler angles they are simpler to compose and avoid the problem of gimbal lock. Compared to rotation matrices they are more compact, more numerically stable, and more efficient. Quaternions have applications in computer graphics, computer vision, robotics, navigation, molecular dynamics, flight dynamics, orbital mechanics of satellites and crystallographic texture analysis.

**Rotation** in mathematics is a concept originating in geometry. Any rotation is a motion of a certain space that preserves at least one point. It can describe, for example, the motion of a rigid body around a fixed point. A rotation is different from other types of motions: translations, which have no fixed points, and (hyperplane) reflections, each of them having an entire (*n* − 1)-dimensional flat of fixed points in a n-dimensional space. A clockwise rotation is a negative magnitude so a counterclockwise turn has a positive magnitude.

The **Euler angles** are three angles introduced by Leonhard Euler to describe the orientation of a rigid body with respect to a fixed coordinate system. They can also represent the orientation of a mobile frame of reference in physics or the orientation of a general basis in 3-dimensional linear algebra.

In linear algebra, linear transformations can be represented by matrices. If is a linear transformation mapping to and is a column vector with entries, then

In linear algebra, a **rotation matrix** is a matrix that is used to perform a rotation in Euclidean space. For example, using the convention below, the matrix

In geometry, **Euler's rotation theorem** states that, in three-dimensional space, any displacement of a rigid body such that a point on the rigid body remains fixed, is equivalent to a single rotation about some axis that runs through the fixed point. It also means that the composition of two rotations is also a rotation. Therefore the set of rotations has a group structure, known as a *rotation group*.

The **rigid rotor** is a mechanical model of rotating systems. An arbitrary rigid rotor is a 3-dimensional rigid object, such as a top. To orient such an object in space requires three angles, known as Euler angles. A special rigid rotor is the *linear rotor* requiring only two angles to describe, for example of a diatomic molecule. More general molecules are 3-dimensional, such as water, ammonia, or methane.

In the theory of three-dimensional rotation, **Rodrigues' rotation formula**, named after Olinde Rodrigues, is an efficient algorithm for rotating a vector in space, given an axis and angle of rotation. By extension, this can be used to transform all three basis vectors to compute a rotation matrix in SO(3), the group of all rotation matrices, from an axis–angle representation. In other words, the Rodrigues' formula provides an algorithm to compute the exponential map from **so**(3), the Lie algebra of SO(3), to SO(3) without actually computing the full matrix exponential.

Spatial rotations in three dimensions can be parametrized using both Euler angles and unit quaternions. This article explains how to convert between the two representations. Actually this simple use of "quaternions" was first presented by Euler some seventy years earlier than Hamilton to solve the problem of magic squares. For this reason the dynamics community commonly refers to quaternions in this application as "Euler parameters".

In mathematics, the group of **rotations about a fixed point in four-dimensional Euclidean space** is denoted **SO(4)**. The name comes from the fact that it is the special orthogonal group of order 4.

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.

In celestial mechanics, a **Kepler orbit** is the motion of one body relative to another, as an ellipse, parabola, or hyperbola, which forms a two-dimensional orbital plane in three-dimensional space. A Kepler orbit can also form a straight line. It considers only the point-like gravitational attraction of two bodies, neglecting perturbations due to gravitational interactions with other objects, atmospheric drag, solar radiation pressure, a non-spherical central body, and so on. It is thus said to be a solution of a special case of the two-body problem, known as the Kepler problem. As a theory in classical mechanics, it also does not take into account the effects of general relativity. Keplerian orbits can be parametrized into six orbital elements in various ways.

In aerospace engineering, especially those areas dealing with spacecraft, the **eigenvector slew** is a method to calculate a steering correction by rotating the spacecraft around **one** fixed axis, or a gimbal. This corresponds in general to the fastest and most efficient way to reach the desired target orientation as there is only one acceleration phase and one braking phase for the angular rate. If this fixed axis is not a principal axis a time varying torque must be applied to force the spacecraft to rotate as desired, though. Also the gyroscopic effect of momentum wheels must be compensated for.

This article derives the main properties of rotations in 3-dimensional space.

In geometry, a **plane of rotation** is an abstract object used to describe or visualize rotations in space. In three dimensions it is an alternative to the axis of rotation, but unlike the axis of rotation it can be used in other dimensions, such as two, four or more dimensions.

In physics and engineering, **Davenport chained rotations** are three chained intrinsic rotations about body-fixed specific axes. Euler rotations and Tait–Bryan rotations are particular cases of the Davenport general rotation decomposition. The angles of rotation are called Davenport angles because the general problem of decomposing a rotation in a sequence of three was studied first by Paul B. Davenport.

- ↑ "An Oasis, or a Secret Lair?".
*ESO Picture of the Week*. Archived from the original on 11 October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013. - ↑ Brannon, R.M., "Rotation, Reflection, and Frame Change", 2018

- Hazewinkel, Michiel, ed. (2001) [1994], "Rotation",
*Encyclopedia of Mathematics*, Springer Science+Business Media B.V. / Kluwer Academic Publishers, ISBN 978-1-55608-010-4 - Product of Rotations at cut-the-knot. cut-the-knot.org
- When a Triangle is Equilateral at cut-the-knot. cut-the-knot.org
- Rotate Points Using Polar Coordinates, howtoproperly.com
- Rotation in Two Dimensions by Sergio Hannibal Mejia after work by Roger Germundsson and Understanding 3D Rotation by Roger Germundsson, Wolfram Demonstrations Project. demonstrations.wolfram.com
- Rotation, Reflection, and Frame Change: Orthogonal tensors in computational engineering mechanics, IOP Publishing

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