The equation of a circle can be found from the coordinates of its centre and its radius.
Consider this circle whose centre is at the point (a,b) and whose radius is r. The equation of the circle is given by
The values of a, b and r are specified whereas x and y are left as general points. This is much like when we specify m and c in y=mx+c when we have the equation of a given straight line.
Things to Learn for Circle Equation questions:
You should know the following facts:
- Most importantly, the equation of a circle.
- Secondly, that the angle subtended from a diameter at the circumference is a right angle.
- Next, the radius and tangent touch at right angles to one another.
- Finally, a perpendicular from a chord bisects the chord.
You should be able to find the equation of a circle:
- using completing the square and/or Pythagoras,
- given a triangle that has all three points on its circumference and
- find the equation of a tangent using perpendicular gradients.
Equation of a Circle Examples
The equation of a circle is derived from an application of Pythagoras Theorem. Specifically, the longest side squared is equal to the sum of the squares of the shorter sides. Evidently, the longest side is the radius. If we pick a point on the circle (x,y), we see that the shorter sides have lengths x-a and y-b. It follows that .
The equation of a circle is implicit rather than explicit. This means that the xs and ys are mixed up. Conversely, an equation is explicit if y is the subject, for example.
You may be presented with questions that expect you to know the equation of a circle. Other questions might bring in knowledge from other areas of maths such as finding mid-points. In more complicated questions you may even be asked to find gradients using the knowledge that a tangent to a circle is perpendicular to its radius.
More Circle Examples
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