The Cartesian Coordinate System was established by 18th century French mathematician Rene
Descartes. It gives us a method of creating a graph or picture of our ordered pairs.
Once established, we can use a graph to analyze our ordered pairs.

The Cartesian Coordinate System looks like a piece of graph paper. At the center
are two perpendicular number lines. The point were these lines intersect is called
the *origin*. The coordinates of the origin is the ordered pair (0, 0).

**Plotting Ordered Pairs**

The two perpendicular lines that form the center of our Cartesian Coordinate System are called axis. The horizontal line passing through the origin is called the x-axis. The vertical line passing through the origin is called the y-axis. To plot the ordered pair (x, y), move x units along the x-axis and y units along the y-axis.

EXAMPLE 1: Plot the ordered pair (2, 3) on the Cartesian Coordinate System.

To plot the ordered pair (2, 3), we need to move 2 units to the right on the x-axis and 3 units up on the y-axis.

EXAMPLE 2: Plot the ordered pair (-1, -2) on the Cartesian Coordinate System.

To plot the ordered pair (-1, -2), we need to move 1 units to the left on the x-axis and 2 units down on the y-axis.

EXAMPLE 3: On a piece of graph paper, plot the following ordered pairs?

A] (5, 4) B] (-2, 3) c] d] (0, 0) e] (3, -2)

**Identifying Plotted Points**

While plotting points on a graph is important, it is equally important to be able to read points from a graph. To find the coordinates of a point,

1. Starting from the origin, move along the x-axis to find the x-coordinate.

2. Then moving along the y-axis, find the y-coordinate.

EXAMPLE 4: Determine the coordinates of each of the points below.

To determine the coordinates of point A, first move along the x-axis until we reach A. Since we needed to move two units to the left of the origin, the x-coordinate is -2. Since we do not have to move along the y-axis, the y-coordinate is 0. Putting this together, the coordinates of the point A is (-2, 0).

To determine the coordinates of point B, first move along the x-axis until we reach B. Since we do not have to move along the x-axis, the x coordinate is 0. Now move along the y-axis until we reach B. Since we need to move down two units, the y-coordinate is -2. Putting this together, the coordinates of the point B is (0, -2).

Notice that the point (-2, 0) is not at the same position on the graph as the point (0, -2). Remember that with ordered pairs, order matters! The value of x comes first and the value of y comes second.

To determine the coordinates of point C, first move along the x-axis until we reach C. Since we needed to move three units to the right of the origin, the x-coordinate is 3. Now move along the y-axis until we reach C. Since we need to move up two units, the y-coordinate is 2. Putting this together, the coordinates of the point C is (3, 2).

To determine the coordinates of point D, first move along the x-axis until we reach D. Since we needed to move two units to the right of the origin, the x-coordinate is 2. Now move along the y-axis until we reach D. Since we need to move up three units, the y-coordinate is 3. Putting this together, the coordinates of the point C is (2, 3).

EXAMPLE 5: For the graph below, determine the coordinates of each point? Remember that the x-coordinate comes first, then the y-coordinate.

**Quadrants**

When looking that the Cartesian Coordinate System centered from the origin, we notice
the graph is broken up into four smaller pieces. These pieces are called *quadrants*.
Quadrants are labeled counter-clockwise with the upper-right quadrant being called
Quadrant I. See the figure below.

If we examine the graph more carefully, we will notice that the values of both x and y are positive in the first quadrant. The values of x are negative in the second quadrant and the values of y are positive in the second quadrant. In the third quadrant, both x and y are negative. Finally, in the fourth quadrant, x is positive but y is negative.

EXAMPLE 6: Determine which quadrant each of the following points are in.

a] (-1, 3) b] (1.8, 3.4) c] (-1/2, - 1) d] (2, -1)

ANSWER 6: a] Since x is negative and y is positive, (-1, 3) must be located
in quadrant II.

b] Since both x and y are positive, (1.8, 3.4) must be located in
quadrant I.

c] Since both x and y are negative, (-1/2, -1) must be located in
quadrant III.

d] Since x is positive and y is negative, (2, -1) must be located in
quadrant IV.

NOTE: You could also plot these points on a graph and determine the same results.

EXAMPLE 7: Determine which quadrant each of the following points are in.

a] (2, 4) b] (1, -3) c] (2.2, 2.3) d] (-4, -5) e] (-1, 1)

Answer 7: Points a and c are in quadrant I. b is in quadrant IV. d is in quadrant III and e is in quadrant II. To view the answers to the above example,

**Scaling the Axes**

Up until now, each unit on our graph has been represented by 1. That is not always desirable. Consider plotting a graph of the the data below.

YEAR | ANNUAL |

1960 | 60 |

1970 | 72 |

1980 | 83 |

1990 | 91 |

2000 | 85 |

Starting our graph at the origin would cause use to count 1960 places to the right and
60 places up before we could plot our first point! It would be much easier if we
could just start our x-axis at 1960 and start our y-axis at 60. As long as we *clearly*
mark our graph, we are allowed to do this. Similarly, since our data is in multiples
of 10, it makes sense to count by 10's along both axes instead of by 1's. See the
graph below.

EXAMPLE 8: For the graph below, determine the value of each ordered pair labeled A through C.

ANSWERS 8: The coordinates for A are (150, 40).

The coordinates for B are (200, 60).

The coordinates for C are (250, 80).

**Noticing Trends and Making Predictions**

Creating a graphs gives a picture of what a data set looks like. Frequently we can use this picture to make estimates about data not readily seen in the chart. Consider the chart above. Notice that as the value of x increases, the value of y appears to be increasing as well.

We can use this trend in the data to make a prediction about what the value of y will be based on any value of x between 150 and 250. For example, when x is 225, we can predict the value of y will be approximately 70. How can we do that? Let's look at the picture more closely.

First go to your
textbook and read pages 169 through 172. Then do questions 1 - 10 (all), on pages
180 - 181.

Copyright © 2004 Donna Tupper.