Cartesian coordinate system

[ kär-tēzhən ]

A system in which the location of a point is given by coordinates that represent its distances from perpendicular lines that intersect at a point called the origin. A Cartesian coordinate system in a plane has two perpendicular lines (the x-axis and y-axis); in three-dimensional space, it has three (the x-axis, y-axis, and z-axis). Compare polar coordinate system.

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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.