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Given a curve defined parametrically according to a position vector, ~r = ~r(t) and the velocity is defined in the usual way, ~v (t) =

~

d T

κ =

ds

where T~ =

~

v

k~

vk

**is the unit tangent vector to the curve and s is the arclength parameter given by:
**

r

ds =

dx 2 dy 2

+

dt = k~v kdt

dt

dt

**Using the chain rule we can write:
**

~ ~

dT dT dt dT~ 1

κ =

=

=

ds dt ds dt k~v k

Next we see:

dT~

d

=

dt

dt

~v

k~v k

**Using the product rule we write:
**

d

kvk

~ak~v k − ~v dt

dT~

=

2

dt

k~v k

**Aside: time derivative of the speed
**

d

d

d

(~v · ~v ) = (k~v k2 ) = 2k~v k k~v k

dt

dt

dt

Moreover:

Therefore:

d

(~v · ~v ) = ~a · ~v + ~v · ~a = 2~a · ~v

dt

d

~v

k~v k = ~a ·

dt

k~v k

~ak~v k − ~v (~a ·

dT~

=

dt

k~v k2

~

v

)

k~

vk

s

~

~ak~v k − ~v (~a · k~~vvk ) ~ak~v k − ~v (~a · k~~vvk )

dT

·

=

dt

k~v k2

k~v k2

s

~

~v

1

~v

dT

(~ak~v k − ~v (~a ·

)) · (~ak~v k − ~v (~a ·

))

=

dt

k~v k2

k~v k

k~v k

~

1 p

dT

k~ak2 k~v k2 − 2k~v k2 k~ak2 cos2 θ + k~v k2 k~ak2 cos2 θ

=

dt

k~v k2

d~

r

.

dt

The curvature is defined as:

~

k~akk~v k p

dT

1 − cos2 θ

=

dt

k~v k2

~

k~akk~v k p 2

d T

sin θ

=

dt

k~v k2

~

k~akk~v k

d T

sin θ

=

dt

k~v k2

~

k~a × ~v k

d T

=

dt

k~v k2

Finally:

~

dT 1

κ =

dt k~v k

κ=

k~a × ~v k

k~v k3

**A challenge question — Can we find the curvature of a curve without using a parameter?
**

Is there a natural way to describe the curvature of a function without using the parametric form? For example, suppose a curve is the consequence of the intersection of three volumes

defined using an extended Cartesian system with four coordinates: x, y, z, w. So, w = w1 (x, y, z) = w2 (x, y, z) = w3 (x, y, z), and we wish to know the curvature at (x, y, z). This is a

well-defined question with no reference to a parameter, t. It is natural to wonder whether there is a way to find curvature without imposing a new parameter.

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