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Say I have a triangle with vertices $(0,0), (2,4), (4,0)$ that I want to rotate along the origin. Rotation by multiples of $90^{\circ}$ is simple. However, I want to rotate by something a bit more complicated, such as $54^{\circ}$. How do I figure out where the vertices would be then?

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

One way is to use complex numbers. Multiplying by $\cos\theta+i\sin\theta$ rotates by $\theta$ about 0, so you could multiply $(2+4i)(\cos 54^\circ+i\sin 54^\circ)$ to get the rotation image of (2,4).

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In the answer to this question, I mentioned the formula for the rotation matrix; one merely takes the product of the rotation matrix with the coordinates (treated as 2-vectors) to get the new rotated coordinates. Note that I gave the matrix for clockwise rotation; for anticlockwise rotation, negate the angle (thus switching the sign of the two sine components).

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