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Concept# Turn (angle)

Summary

One turn (symbol tr or pla) is a unit of plane angle measurement equal to 2π radians, 360 degrees or 400 gradians.
Thus it is the angular measure subtended by a complete circle at its center.
Subdivisions of a turn include half-turns and quarter-turns, spanning a semicircle and a right angle, respectively; metric prefixes can also be used as in, e.g., centiturns (ctr), milliturns (mtr), etc.
As an angular unit, one turn also corresponds to one cycle (symbol cyc or c) or to one revolution (symbol rev or r).
In the ISQ, an arbitrary "number of turns" (also known as "number of revolutions" or "number of cycles") is formalized as a dimensionless quantity called rotation, defined as the ratio of a given angle and the full turn.
Common related units of frequency are cycles per second (cps) and revolutions per minute (rpm).
The word turn originates via Latin and French from the Greek word τόρνος ( – a lathe).
In 1697, David Gregory used π/ρ (pi over rho) to denote the perimeter of a circle (i.e., the circumference) divided by its radius. However, earlier in 1647, William Oughtred had used δ/π (delta over pi) for the ratio of the diameter to perimeter. The first use of the symbol pi on its own with its present meaning (of perimeter divided by diameter) was in 1706 by the Welsh mathematician William Jones. Euler adopted the symbol with that meaning in 1737, leading to its widespread use.
Percentage protractors have existed since 1922, but the terms centiturns, milliturns and microturns were introduced much later by the British astronomer Fred Hoyle in 1962. Some measurement devices for artillery and satellite watching carry milliturn scales.
The German standard DIN 1315 (March 1974) proposed the unit symbol "pla" (from Latin: plenus angulus 'full angle') for turns. Covered in DIN 1301-1 (October 2010), the so-called Vollwinkel ('full angle') is not an SI unit. However, it is a legal unit of measurement in the EU and Switzerland.
The scientific calculators HP 39gII and HP Prime support the unit symbol "tr" for turns since 2011 and 2013, respectively.

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