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# What is the difference between the x- and y-axis?

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In a Cartesian coordinate system, the y-axis sits at a 90-degree angle from the x-axis. The two axes meet at a point where the numerical value of each is equal to zero. On a map of the world, this is analogous to the point where the equator is crossed by the prime meridian.

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The x-axis is essentially an infinite number line running horizontally in both positive and negative directions outward from zero. With the use of such a number line, any number can be found and plotted. The y-axis is a similar number line, only running vertically and perpendicular to the first. By assigning a value for both x and y, any point on a two dimensional plane can be plotted. These values for x and y are called coordinates and given in pairs with the x value first. A point located three units to the right of the origin on the x-axis and two units above the origin on the y-axis is at the coordinates (3,2).

The Cartesian coordinate system is highly useful in mathematics and has many practical applications from engineering to map making, but what it represents is arbitrary in real terms. There is no reason, for example, to assign the directional axis that goes north-south to y, or east-west to x, except that it is conventional to do so.

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## Related Questions

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Rows and columns are used to describe the arrangement of sets of data or objects in space, but the difference between these two terms lies is the orientation of the objects. A row has the objects arranged horizontally, and a column has the objects arranged vertically.

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The difference between graphs and charts is mainly in the way the data is compiled and the way it is represented. Graphs are usually focused on raw data and showing the trends and changes in that data over time. Charts are best used when data can be categorized or averaged to create more simplistic and easily consumed figures.

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Horizontal analysis makes comparisons of numbers or amounts in time while vertical analysis involves displaying the numbers as percentages of a total in order to compare them. Both are useful financial analysis techniques that calculate relationships between figures in balance sheets and income statements.