Tangents of polar curves - Parametric Equations and Polar Coordinates

Tangents of polar curves

In this lesson, we will learn how to find the tangent line of polar curves. Just like how we can find the tangent of Cartesian and parametric equations, we can do the same for polar equations. First, we will examine a generalized formula to taking the derivative, and apply it to finding tangents. Then we will look at a few examples to finding the first derivative. Lastly, we will do some applications which involve finding tangent lines of polar curves at a specified point.


In order to find the tangent line to polar curves, we have to take the derivative in polar coordinates.
Here is the formula to take the derivative in polar coordinates:
dydx=drdθsinθ+r  cosθdrdθcosθr  sinθ\frac{dy}{dx}=\frac{\frac{dr}{d \theta}\sin \theta+r\;\cos \theta}{\frac{dr}{d \theta}\cos \theta-r\;\sin \theta}
  • 1.
    Finding the Derivative
    Find dydx\frac{dy}{dx} for each of the following polar equations:
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Tangents of polar curves

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