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Concept# Radian

Summary

The radian, denoted by the symbol rad, is the unit of angle in the International System of Units (SI) and is the standard unit of angular measure used in many areas of mathematics. It is defined such that one radian is the angle subtended at the centre of a circle by an arc that is equal in length to the radius. The unit was formerly an SI supplementary unit and is currently a dimensionless SI derived unit, defined in the SI as 1 rad = 1 and expressed in terms of the SI base unit metre (m) as . Angles without explicitly specified units are generally assumed to be measured in radians, especially in mathematical writing.
One radian is defined as the angle subtended from the center of a circle which intercepts an arc equal in length to the radius of the circle. More generally, the magnitude in radians of a subtended angle is equal to the ratio of the arc length to the radius of the circle; that is, , where θ is the subtended angle in radians, s is arc length, and r is radius. A right angle is exactly radians.
The rotation angle (360°) corresponding to one complete revolution is the length of the circumference divided by the radius, which is , or 2π. Thus, 2π radians is equal to 360 degrees.
The relation 2π rad = 360° can be derived using the formula for arc length, . Since radian is the measure of an angle that is subtended by an arc of a length equal to the radius of the circle, . This can be further simplified to . Multiplying both sides by 360° gives 360° = 2π rad.
The International Bureau of Weights and Measures and International Organization for Standardization specify rad as the symbol for the radian. Alternative symbols that were in use in 1909 are c (the superscript letter c, for "circular measure"), the letter r, or a superscript ^R, but these variants are infrequently used, as they may be mistaken for a degree symbol (°) or a radius (r). Hence an angle of 1.2 radians would be written today as 1.2 rad; archaic notations could include 1.2 r, 1.2^rad, 1.2^c, or 1.2^R.
In mathematical writing, the symbol "rad" is often omitted.

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