Polar Equations

Ideally, as with parametric and vector functions, polar curves should be introduced and covered thoroughly in a pre-calculus course. Questions on the BC exams have been concerned with calculus ideas related to polar curves. Students have not been asked to know the names of the various curves (rose, curves, limaçons, etc.). The graphs are usually given in the stem of the problem, but students should know how to graph polar curves on their calculator, and the simplest by hand.

What students should know how to do:

  • Calculate the coordinates of a point on the graph,
  • Find the intersection of two graphs (to use as limits of integration).
  • Find the area enclosed by a graph or graphs: Area =\displaystyle A=\tfrac{1}{2}\int_{{{\theta }_{1}}}^{{{\theta }_{2}}}{(r(}θ\displaystyle ){{)}^{2}}dθ
  • Use the formulas x\left( \theta  \right)\text{ }=~r\left( \theta  \right)\text{cos}\left( \theta  \right)~~\text{and}~y\left( \theta  \right)\text{ }=~r(\theta )\text{sin}\left( \theta  \right)~  to convert from polar to parametric form,
  • Calculate \displaystyle \frac{dy}{d\theta } and \displaystyle \frac{dx}{d\theta } (Hint: use the product rule on the equations in the previous bullet).
  • Discuss the motion of a particle moving on the graph by discussing the meaning of \displaystyle \frac{dr}{d\theta } (motion towards or away from the pole), \displaystyle \frac{dy}{d\theta } (motion in the vertical direction) or \displaystyle \frac{dx}{d\theta } (motion in the horizontal direction).
  • Find the slope at a point on the graph, \displaystyle \frac{dy}{dx}=\frac{dy/d\theta }{dx/d\theta }.

This topic appears only occasionally on the free-response section of the exam instead of the Parametric/vector motion question. The most recent on the released exams were in 2007,  2013, 2014, and 2017. If the topic is not on the free-response then 1, or maybe 2 questions, probably finding area, can be expected on the multiple-choice section.

Shorter questions on these ideas appear in the multiple-choice sections. As always, look over as many questions of this kind from past exams as you can find.

Here are the few post I have written on polar curves and polar graphing.

Limaçons   A discussion of how polar curves are graphed

Back in the summer of 2014 I got interested in some polar equations and wrote a series of post on them which include some gifs showing how they are graphed. They are nothing that will appear on the AP exams. You can use them as enrichment if you like.

Rolling Circles

Roulettes and Calculus



Hypocycloids and Hypotrochoids

Roulettes and Art – 1  

Roulettes and Art – 2






Writing on the AP Calculus Exams

The goals of the AP Calculus program state that, “Students should be able to communicate mathematics and explain solutions to problems both verbally and in well written sentences.” For obvious reasons the verbal part cannot be tested on the exams; it is expected that you will do that in your class. The exams do require written answers to a number of questions. The number of points riding on written explanations on recent exams is summarized in the table below.

 Year AB BC
2007 9 9
2008 7 8
2009 7 3
2010 7 7
2011 7 6
2012 9 7
2013 9 7
2014 6 3

The average is between 6 and 8 points each year with some years having 9. That’s the equivalent of a full question. So this is something that should not be overlooked in teaching the course and in preparing for the exams. Start long before calculus; make writing part of the school’s math program.

That a written answer is expected is indicated by phrases such as:

  • Justify you answer
  • Explain your reasoning
  • Why?
  • Why not?
  • Give a reason for your answer
  • Explain the meaning of a definite integral in the context of the problem.
  • Explain the meaning of a derivative in the context of the problem.
  • Explain why an approximation overestimates or underestimates the actual value

How do you answer such a question? The short answer is to determine which theorem or definition applies and then show that the given situation specifically meets (or fails to meet) the hypotheses of the theorem or definition.

Explanations should be based on what is given in the problem or what the student has computed or derived from the given, and be based on a theorem or definition. Some more specific suggestions:

  • To show that a function is continuous show that the limit (or perhaps two one-sided limits) equals the value at the point. (See 2007 AB 6)
  • Increasing, decreasing, local extreme values, and concavity are all justified by reference to the function’s derivative. The table below shows what is required for the justifications. The items in the second column must be given (perhaps on a graph of the derivative) or must have been established by the student’s work.
Conclusion Establish that
y is increasing y’ > 0  (above the x-axis)
y is decreasing y’ < 0   (below the x-axis)
y has a local minimum y’ changes  – to + (crosses x-axis below to above) or {y}'=0\text{ and }{{y}'}'>0
y has a local maximum y’ changes + to –  (crosses x-axis above to below) or {y}'=0\text{ and }{{y}'}'<0
y is concave up y’ increasing  (going up to the right) or {{y}'}'>0
y is concave down y’ decreasing  (going down to the right) or {{y}'}'<0
y has point of inflection y’ extreme value  (high or low points) or {{y}'}' changes sign.
  •  Local extreme values may be justified by the First Derivative Test, the Second Derivative Test, or the Candidates’ Test. In each case the hypotheses must be shown to be true either in the given or by the student’s work.
  • Absolute Extreme Values may be justified by the same three tests (often the Candidates’ Test is the easiest), but here the student must consider the entire domain. This may be done (for a continuous function) by saying specifically that this is the only place where the derivative changes sign in the proper direction. (See the “quiz” below.)
  • Speed is increasing on intervals where the velocity and acceleration have the same sign; decreasing where they have different signs. (2013 AB 2 d)
  • To use the Mean Value Theorem state that the function is continuous and differentiable on the interval and show the computation of the slope between the endpoints of the interval. (2007 AB 3 b, 2103 AB3/BC3)
  • To use the Intermediate Value Theorem state that the function is continuous and show that the values at the endpoints bracket the value in question (2007 AB 3 a)
  • For L’Hôpital’s Rule state that the limit of the numerator and denominator are either both zero or both infinite. (2013 BC 5 a)
  • The meaning of a derivative should include the value and (1) what it is (the rate of change of …, velocity of …, slope of …), (2) the time it obtains this value, and (3) the units. (2012 AB1/BC1)
  • The meaning of a definite integral should include the value and (1) what the integral gives (amount, average value, change of position), (2) the units, and (3) what the limits of integration mean. One way of determining this is to remember the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus \displaystyle \int_{a}^{b}{{f}'\left( x \right)dx}=f\left( b \right)-f\left( a \right). The integral is the difference between whatever f represents at b and what it represents at a. (2009 AB 2 c, AB 3c, 2013 AB3/BC3 c)
  • To show that a theorem applies state and show that all its hypotheses are met. To show that a theorem does not apply show that at least one of the hypotheses is not true (be specific as to which one).
  • Overestimates or underestimates usually depend on the concavity between the two points used in the estimates.

A few other things to keep on mind:

  • Avoid pronouns. Pronouns need antecedents. “It’s increasing because it is positive on the interval” is not going to earn any points.
  • Avoid ambiguous references. Phrases such as “the graph”, “the derivative” , or “the slope” are unclear. When they see “the graph” readers are taught to ask “the graph of what?” Do not make them guess. Instead say “the graph of the derivative”, “the derivative of f”, or “the slope of the derivative.”
  • Answer the question. If the question is a yes or no question then say “yes” or “no.” Every year students write great explanations but never say whether they are justifying a “yes” or a “no.”
  • Don’t write too much. Usually a sentence or two is enough. If something extra is in the explanation and it is wrong, then the credit is not earned even though the rest of the explanation is great.

As always, look at the scoring standards from past exam and see how the justifications and explanations are worded. These make good templates for common justifications. Keep in mind that there are other correct ways to write the justifications.


Here is a quiz that can help your students learn how to write good explanations.

Let f\left( x \right)={{e}^{x}}\left( x-3 \right) for 0\le x\le 5. Find the location of the minimum value of f(x). Justify your answer three different ways (without reference to each other).

The minimum value occurs at x = 2. The three ways to justify this are the First Derivative Test, the Second Derivative Test and the Candidates’ Test. (Don’t tell your students what they are – they should know that.) Then compare and contrast the students’ answers. Let them discuss and criticize each other’s answers.



Roulettes and Art – 2

Continuing with our discussion of ways to produce interesting designs with the Roulette Generator (RG) for Winplot, here are some hints on making more detailed designs using more than one function.

Hint #5: Adding more graphs to the first: You may add other graphs by selecting the roulette and/or velocity equations from the Inventory (CTRL+I) and clicking “dupl”  to duplicate the equation. Then click the duplicate and then “edit” and change the sign in front of the S in both equations. This will let you graph S and –S at the same time. This will give you two congruent graphs with the first rotated 2\pi /n from the first. (From the previous posts: if \left| R \right|=\tfrac{n}{d} then there are d dips, loops, or cusps in n full revolutions). Both graphs will have the same R value.  

You may also change the color of all the graphs.

Here is a graph with that idea. The values are in the caption.

R = -0.322, S = -0.3 (blue) and S = +0.3 (green) and their derivatives (orange and   xxx  15 Revolutions

R = -0.322, S = -0.3 (blue) and S = +0.3 (green) and their derivatives (orange and gray),
15 Revolutions

Hint #6: Plotting Density (PD) (Winplot RG only) also affects the final drawing. Graphers work by calculating a number of points and joining them with straight segments. The default plotting density is 1. Usually this results in a nice graph with smooth looking curves because the segments are very short. If your graph looks like a bunch of segments, select the equation in the Inventory, click “edit”, and increase the plotting density (to 10 or 100 or more) and the curves will no longer look like segments. Of course, you may want them to look like segments. The graph below shows how PD works. The graph on the left has a plotting density of 10. The center graph is a detail of the first with the same PD. The plot on the right is the same as the center graph but with a plotting density of 100.

Hint #7: In addition to PD, Winplot is very sensitive to image size and zooming in and out. Once you have a graph you like, experiment with zooming in and our (page-up and page-down keys) or dragging the corners of the frame. You will see a lot of different graphs.

Your turn: Try making this graph below with S=\pm \tfrac{1}{3}, R = 0.00667 and slightly less than a full revolution. Make the image size (under the file tab) 12.3 x 12.3 (the units are cm.), or 465 x 465 pixels (type @ after the number to use pixels). Amazing!


Every slight change makes a whole new design. Start with your own values. I would like to see what you and your students come up with. When you get the perfect one, e-mail it to me as a .jpg file and I will post it. (Please include the SR, and other data.

Roulettes and Art – 1

For the last few post, we have been exploring roulettes using the roulette generator (RG) for either Winplot or Geometer’s Sketchpad. These files use the equations

 x\left( t \right)=(1+R)\cos \left( t \right)-S\cos \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

 y\left( t \right)=\left( 1+R \right)\sin \left( t \right)-S\sin \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

 The derivative is given by the equations

{x}'\left( t \right)=-\left( 1+R \right)\sin \left( t \right)+S\left( \tfrac{1}{R}+1 \right)\sin \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

{y}'\left( t \right)=\left( 1+R \right)\cos \left( t \right)-S\left( \tfrac{1}{R}+1 \right)\cos \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

Notice that the derivative is also a form of roulette.

To generate various roulettes by changing the values of R and S as explained in the first post in this series.

When my friend Audrey Weeks finished making the Sketchpad RG for me she sent these three designs that she made using the generator. Suddenly, we were into art!

The designs may make a nice project for students studying parametric curves and help them learn a little more about the curves and their graphs. Here are some hints about how to use the Winplot RG to make these designs. (Most of the hints will also do for the Sketchpad RG except for changing colors, and generating several curves at once.)

 Hint 1: Begin by opening the RG file and saving it with a different name so you can makes the changes and still have the original available. In the new file,

  • Open the Inventory (CRTL+I) and delete everything except the one marked “Roulette” and the one marked “Velocity Graph” by selecting each and clicking the “delete” button.  This will remove the circles and other lines from the final drawings.
  • Then make a duplicate of the two remaining files by selecting them and clicking “dupl.” For the duplicates, click “edit” and change the sign preceding the S. This will let you draw graphs for S and –S at the same time. More on this below.
  • Click CTRL+G and turn the axes off.

 Hint 2: Number of revolutions: We learned in the first post in this series that from the number R expressed as a reduced fraction \left| R \right|=\tfrac{n}{d}, that d is the number of dips, loops, or cusps in the graph and n full revolutions will draw the entire graph (i. e. after n revolutions the same graph will be redrawn).

When using a large value of d the parts of the graph overlap each other and add to the design. So, use a large d to get a “fancier” graph.

If you use n revolutions your graph will have a number of rotational symmetries offset by 2\pi /n radians.

But you also get nice designs by using less than n revolutions. This draws part of the graph and can also make a pleasing design. See the captions to the figures in this post to get an idea of how this works.

Hint #3: Color: You can change the color by selecting the equation in the Inventory list and clicking “edit” and then “color.”  The background color can be changed by clicking “Misc” in the top bar and then “Background.”

Hint #4: Dips, loops and cusps: These are controlled by the S slider. If \left| S \right|=\left| R \right| there will be cusps, if \left| S \right|<\left| R \right| dips, and if \left| S \right|>\left| R \right| loops. (Of course, you could have your students discover this on their own.) Experiment with this to make other designs.

So, let’s try one.  First graph: I chose R = –0.321 and S = 0.440. Since 321/1000 does not reduce, there will be 1000 loops in 321 revolutions. But I graphed only about 6.5 revolutions (A = 40.212). Second Graph: includes the derivative of the first made by using the velocity equation in the Inventory.

These were just a few hints to get you started. In the next post we’ll look at some much more fancy designs. Meanwhile try some of your own and post them as comments. (Please include the R, S, and revolution values you used.).

Preview of the next post Roulettes and Art – 2:


Roulettes and Calculus

Roulettes – 5: Calculus Considerations.

In the first post of this series Roulette Generators (RG) are explained. Here are the files for Winplot or Geometer’s Sketchpad. Use them to quickly see the graphs of these curves by adjusting one or two parameters.

While writing this series of posts I was intrigued by the cusps that appear in some of the curves. In Cartesian coordinates you think of a cusp as a place where the curves is continuous, but the derivative is undefined, and the tangent line is vertical. Cusps on the curves we have been considering are different.

The equations of the curves formed by a point attached to a circle rolling around a fixed circle in the form we have been using are:

x\left( t \right)=(1+R)\cos \left( t \right)-S\cos \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

y\left( t \right)=\left( 1+R \right)\sin \left( t \right)-S\sin \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

For example, let’s consider the case with R=S=\tfrac{1}{3}


Epicycloid with R = S = 1/3

Epicycloid with R = S = 1/3

The equations become

x\left( t \right)=\frac{4}{3}\cos \left( t \right)-\frac{1}{3}\cos \left( 4t \right)

y\left( t \right)=\frac{4}{3}\sin \left( t \right)-\frac{1}{3}\sin \left( 4t \right)

The derivative is

\displaystyle \frac{dy}{dx}=\frac{dy/dt}{dx/dt}=\frac{\cos \left( t \right)-\cos (4t)}{-\sin \left( t \right)+\sin (4t)}

The cusps are evenly spaced one-third of the way around the circle and appear at t=0,\tfrac{2\pi }{3},\tfrac{4\pi }{3}. At the cusps dy/dx is an indeterminate form of the type 0/0. (Note that at t=\tfrac{2\pi }{3}\cos \left( 4t \right)=\cos \left( \tfrac{8\pi }{3} \right)=\cos \left( \tfrac{2\pi }{3} \right) and likewise for the sine.) Since derivatives are limits, we can apply L’Hôpital’s Rule and find that at t=\tfrac{2\pi }{3}

\displaystyle \frac{dy}{dx}=\underset{t\to \tfrac{2\pi }{3}}{\mathop{\lim }}\,\frac{-\sin \left( t \right)+4\sin \left( 4t \right)}{-\cos \left( t \right)+4\cos \left( 4t \right)}=\underset{t\to \tfrac{2\pi }{3}}{\mathop{\lim }}\,\frac{3\sin \left( t \right)}{3\cos \left( t \right)}=\tan \left( \tfrac{2\pi }{3} \right)=-\sqrt{3}

This is, I hope, exactly what we should expect. As the curve enters and leaves the cusp it is tangent to the line from the cusp to the origin. (The same thing happens at the other two cusps.)  At the cusps the moving circle has completed a full revolution and thus, the line from its center to the center of the fixed circle goes through the cusp and has a slope of tan(t).

The cusps will appear where the same t makes dy/dt = 0 and dx/dt =0 simultaneously.

The parametric derivative is defined at the cusp and is the slope of the line from the cusp to the origin. Now I may get an argument on that, but that’s the way it seems to me.

A look at the graph of the derivative in parametric form may help us to see what is going on. In the next figure R=S=\tfrac{1}{3} with the graph of the curve is in blue. The velocity vector is shown twice (arrows). The first is attached to the moving point and shows the direction and its length shows the speed of the movement. The second shows the velocity vector as a position vector (tail at the origin). The orange graph is the path of the velocity vector’s tip – the parametric graph of the velocity. Note that these vectors are the same (i.e. they have the same direction and magnitude)

The video shows the curve moving through the cusp at. Notice that as the graph passes through the cusp the velocity vector changes from pointing down to the right, to the zero vector, to pointing up to the left. The change is continuous and smooth.

Velocity near a cusp.

Velocity near a cusp.

Here is the whole curve being drawn with its velocity and the velocity vectors.

Epicycloid with velocity vectors

Epicycloid with velocity vectors

(If you are using the Winplot file you graph the velocity this way. Open the inventory with CTRL+I, scroll down to the bottom and select, one at a time, the last three lines marked “hidden”, and then click on “Graph.”). The Geometer’s Sketchpad version has a button to show the derivative’s graph and the velocity vectors.

The general equation of the derivative (velocity vector) is

\displaystyle {x}'\left( t \right)=-\left( 1+R \right)\sin \left( t \right)+S\left( \tfrac{1}{R}+1 \right)\sin \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

\displaystyle {y}'\left( t \right)=\left( 1+R \right)\cos \left( t \right)-S\left( \tfrac{1}{R}+1 \right)\cos \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

Notice that the derivative has to same form as a roulette.

Finally, I have to mention how much seeing the graphs in motion have helped me understand, not just the derivatives, but all of the curves in this series and the ones to come. To experiment, to ask “what if … ?” questions, and just to play is what technology should be used for in the classroom. See what your students can find using the RGs.

Exploration and Challenge:

Consider the epitrochoid x\left( t \right)=\frac{2}{3}\cos \left( t \right)+\frac{1}{3}\cos \left( 2t \right),y\left( t \right)=\frac{2}{3}\sin \left( t \right)-\frac{1}{3}\sin \left( 2t \right).

  1. Find its derivative as a parametric equation and graph it with a graphing program or calculator. (Straight forward)
  2. Are the graph of the derivative and the graph of the rose curve given in polar form by r\left( t \right)=\frac{4}{3}\sin \left( 3t \right) the same? Justify your answer.  (Warning: The graphs certainly look the same. I have not been able to do show they are  the same (which certainly doesn’t prove anything), so they may not be the same.) Please post your answer using the “Leave a Reply” box at the end of this post.

Next: Roulette Art.


Hypocycloids and Hypotrochoids

Roulettes – 4: Hypocycloids and Hypotrochoids

In our last few posts we investigated rouletts, the curves that are formed by the locus of points attached to a circle as it rolls around the outside of a fixed circle. Depending on the ratio of the radii (and therefore the circumferences) of the circles these curves are the cardiods (equal radii), epicycloids (moving circle’s radius is less than the fixed circle), and epitrochoids (the point is in the interior or exterior of the moving circle).

In the first post of this series Roulette Generators are explained. Here are the files for Winplot or Geometer’s Sketchpad. Use them to quickly see the graphs of these curves by adjusting one or two parameters.

The parametric equations of these curves are below. and S are parameters that are adjusted for each curve.

x\left( t \right)=(1+R)\cos \left( t \right)-S\cos \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

y\left( t \right)=\left( 1+R \right)\sin \left( t \right)-S\sin \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

We shall now consider the curves that result when the moving circle rolls around the inside of the fixed circle. These curves are called hypocycloids and hypotrochoids. To generate today’s curves make the radius, R, of the moving circle negative.

The first seems almost a special case. Let R =  – 0.5 and S = 0.5 (below left) and then let R = S = – 0.5 (below right). The results are segments, which as we shall see are actually degenerate ellipses.

R = S = - 0.5

R = S = – 0.5

R = - 0.5,  S = + 0.5

R = – 0.5, S = + 0.5

In the following I will keep S negative. This makes the starting point (t = 0) on the positive side of the x-axis. If S is positive the starting point is to the left of the origin. The resulting curves are the same shapes by oriented differently (rotated a quarter-turn).

If R = – 1/2 the curves are ellipses. If S < R < 0 then ellipse stays inside the fixed circle (below left); if  R < S < 0 the ellipse extends outside the fixed circle (below right). If S = 0 the locus is a circle.

R = - 0.5,  S = - 0.3

R = – 0.5, S = – 0.3

R = - 0.5,  S = - .75

R = – 0.5, S = – .75

Next we consider the more general case for which the moving circle’s radius is not exactly half of the fixed circle’s radius.

If R < S < 0, the point is in the interior of the moving circle and the graph is a series of loops (below left). When R = S , the point is on the circle, there is a star-like figure (below right). These are both called hypocycloids.

When S < R < 0 the point is outside the circle and the “stars” form rounded ends and get larger. These are the hypotrochoids (below center).

R = - 0.6,  S = - 0.3

R = – 0.6, S = – 0.3

R = S = - 0.6

R = S = – 0.6

R = - 0.6,  S = - 1

R = – 0.6, S = – 1

The next video shows the progression from S = 0 (a circle) to S = –2 and back again. (S is the distance between the center of the moving circle to the blue point.)

R = - 0.6, - 2 < S < 0,  A = 6pi

R = – 0.6, – 2 < S < 0, t = 6pi

Exploration 6: When R = –0.5 segments and ellipses are formed. Discuss how these are not really different from the cases with different negative values of R.
Exploration 7: In the case where R = S star-like figures are formed. The points of the “star” are cusps. Find the number and location of these cusps in terms of R. (Hint: see the discussion of the cusps in the second post in this series.)
Exploration 8: (Calculus) Find and discuss the derivative at the cusps when R = S.

This will be discussed in the next post. 


Hyposycloid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypocycloid

Hypotrochoid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypotrochoid


Roulettes – 3: Epitrochoids

In the first post of this series Roulette Generators are explained. Here are the files for Winplot or Geometer’s Sketchpad. Use them to quickly see the graphs of these curves by adjusting one or two parameters.

The parametric equations of these curves are below. and S are parameters that are adjusted for each curve.

x\left( t \right)=(1+R)\cos \left( t \right)-S\cos \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

y\left( t \right)=\left( 1+R \right)\sin \left( t \right)-S\sin \left( \tfrac{1}{R}t+t \right)

Before looking at Epitrochoids, consider the three kinds of cycloids. A cycloid is the locus of a point attached to a circle rolling along a line.If the point is on the circle a cycloid is generated.

Cycloid - A point on a circle rolling on a line.

Cycloid – A point on a circle rolling on a line.

If the point is in the interior of the circle a curtate cycloid is generated.

Curtate Cycloid

Curtate Cycloid. A point in the interior of a circle rolling on a line.

If the point is in the exterior of the circle a prolate cycloid is generated.

Prolate Cycloid

Prolate Cycloid. A point attached outside a circle (such as on the flange of a train wheel) rolling on a line.

Using our Roulette Generator we can produce similar curves called epitrochoids the locus of a point attached to one circle as it rolls around another circle. If the point is on the moving circle an epicycloid is generated. These were discussed in the preceding postR is the radius of the moving circle and S is the distance of the point whose locus is graphed from the center of the moving circle.

R = S = 1/3

R = S = 1/3

By changing the position of the point relative to the center (where S = 0) we can see a similarity with the cycloids.

If the point is in the interior of the moving circle (SR), then the curves look like this:


R = 0.4 and S = 0.25. 0\le t\le 4\pi

A close inspection will show that this curve is similar to the curtate cycloid wrapped around a circle.

The next obvious question is what happens if S > R? Then the resulting curves have inner loops similar to those of the prolate cycloid.


S = 0.84, R = 0.6 0\le t\le 6\pi

Finally, we can see the range of curves by changing the values of S. The next video shows the progression of shapes as S changes from 4 to -4 . Watch the orange point. S is the distance between the orange point and the center of the smaller moving circle(open point). The negative values amount to starting the moving circle on the opposite side of the fixed circle and gives the same curves in a different orientation.


R=0.6,\,t=6\pi ,\,-4\le S\le 4

Investigation 5: What is the shape of the curve when S = 0?
Investigation 6: What shape does the curve approach as S approaches infinity?

Next post: hypocycloid – for those who like to be negative.


Cycloid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycloid

Epitrochoids: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epitrochoid