Mathematica Q&A: Plotting Trig Functions in Degrees
March 31, 2011 — Andrew Moylan, Technical Content Specialist, Technical Communication and Strategy Group
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This week’s question comes from Brian, who is a part-time math teacher:
How do you plot trigonometric functions in degrees instead of radians?
To convert from degrees to radians, multiply by π ⁄ 180. This special constant is called Degree in Mathematica.
The symbol ° is a handy shorthand for Degree and is entered as Esc-d-e-g-Esc. You can also find this symbol in the Basic Math Assistant palette in the Palettes menu of Mathematica.
Using either Degree or °, you can plot trigonometric functions in degrees:
That answers the main question, but here’s a related hint.
When plotting trigonometric functions in degrees, you might also want to manually specify exactly where Mathematica draws tick marks. You can do this using the Ticks option:
(Here, Range[0, 360, 45] specifies the tick marks on the x axis, and Automatic uses the default tick marks on the y axis.)
The Ticks option is very flexible. You can specify where tick marks are drawn, what labels they should have, how long they are, and even colors and styles.
Download the Computable Document Format (CDF) file for this post to see how to get the custom tick marks used in this plot:
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