Skill 1 of 13
In Progress

Coordinate systems

Mathematical skill ●●○○○

A crucial detail for pointing out a position such as \overset \to s=(15,20)\, \mathrm{cm} on a map is where to start and also which ways to count those 15\,\mathrm{cm} out and 20\,\mathrm{cm} in. We need a reference!

We can pick a corner and follow the map edges. Let us fittingly call that corner the origin and the edges axes. We follow the edges in a chosen direction which gives us axis directions to count the numbers along. All in all, this is our coordinate system, because we now know how to interpret the coordinates accurately.

Subscribe to valuable engineering skills for your resume or CV

Try full access with a 7-day free trial on all subscriptions.


Already subscribing? Log in:


  1. Online Etymology Dictionary’ (dictionary), Douglas Harper,
  2. Nudansk Ordbog: abscisse’ (dictionary, in Danish),, (accessed May 8th, 2019)
  3. Nudansk ordbog: ordinat’ (dictionary, in Danish),, (accessed May 8th, 2019)
  4. Cartesian orthogonal coordinate system’ (encyclopedia), A.B. Ivanov, Encyclopedia of Mathematics, 2011,
  5. René Descartes’ (encyclopedia), Richard A. Watson, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2019, (accessed May 8th, 2019)
  6. Descartes And His Coordinate System’ (encyclopedia), William Moncrief & Arthur V. Johnson II,, 2002, (accessed May 8th, 2019)
  7. Polar Coordinates’ (web page), Duane Q. Nykamp (Professor of Mathematics at University of Minnesota), Math Insight, (accessed May 8th, 2019)