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In analytic geometry.2 Apollonius of Perga 1.4 Europe 2 Types 2. Contents 1 History 1.Wikipedia.3 Omar Khayyám 1.1 Menaechmus 1. The conic sections were named and studied as long ago as 200 BC.1 Matrix notation 3. the free encyclopedia http://en.1 Intersection at infinity 2.wikipedia. Hyperbola Table of conics. Parabola 2. 1728 2 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 .org/wiki/Conic_section In mathematics.3 Eccentricity 2.3 Standard form 4 Five points determine a conic 5 Homogeneous coordinates 6 Polar coordinates 7 Parameters 8 Properties 9 Applications 10 Intersecting two conics 11 Dandelin spheres 12 See also 13 Notes 14 References Types of conic sections: 1.4 Generalizations 2. Cyclopaedia.Conic section . Circle and ellipse 3. a right circular conical surface) with a plane. a conic section (or just conic) is a curve obtained by intersecting a cone (more precisely.5 In other areas of mathematics 3 Cartesian coordinates 3. when Apollonius of Perga undertook a systematic study of their properties.2 As slice of quadratic form 3. a conic may be defined as a plane algebraic curve of degree 2.2 Degenerate cases 2.
If the angle is acute then the conic is an ellipse. Euclid is said to have written four books on conics but these were lost as well. The only part of this work to survive is a book on the solids of revolution of conics. Thus the shape of the conic is determined by the angle formed at the vertex of the cone.wikipedia. however. Pascal discovered a theorem known as the hexagrammum mysticum from which many other properties of conics can be deduced.org/wiki/Conic_section 15 External links History Menaechmus It is believed that the first definition of a conic section is due to Menaechmus. leading to the definition commonly used today. Omar Khayyám Apollonius's work was translated into Arabic (The technical language of the time) and much of his work only survives through the Arabic version. it was now possible to show that any plane cutting the cone. Persians found applications to the theory. Girard Desargues and Blaise Pascal developed a theory of conics using an early form of projective geometry and this helped to provide impetus for the study of this new field. if the angle is right then the conic is a parabola. The definition used at that time differs from the one commonly used today in that it requires the plane cutting the cone to be perpendicular to the line that generates the cone as a surface of revolution. Types 3 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . René Descartes applied his newly discovered Analytic geometry to the study of conics. and the discovery of the related concept of a directrix.Wikipedia. Note that the circle cannot be defined this way and was not considered a conic at this time. the most notable of these was the Persian mathematician and poet Omar Khayyám who used conic sections to solve algebraic equations. With this tool. this greatly simplified analysis. Apollonius's major innovation was to characterize a conic using properties within the plane and intrinsic to the curve. and is only known through secondary accounts.Conic section . having determined the area bounded by a parabola and an ellipse. Archimedes is known to have studied conics. Meanwhile. whose eight volume Conic Sections summarized the existing knowledge at the time and greatly extended it. This had the effect of reducing the geometrical problems of conics to problems in algebra. a precursor to the concept of limits. regardless of its angle. the free encyclopedia http://en. This work does not survive. Apollonius of Perga The greatest progress in the study of conics by the ancient Greeks is due to Apollonius of Perga. Pappus is credited with discovering importance of the concept of a focus of a conic. and if the angle is obtuse then the conic is a hyperbola. will produce a conic according to the earlier definition. Europe Johann Kepler extended the theory of conics through the "principle of continuity". In particular.
though often one is ignored. Intersection at infinity An algebro-geometrically intrinsic form of this classification is by the intersection of the conic with the line at infinity. right (corresponding to the non-orientability of the real projective plane) – and then passing through the other point at infinity returns to the first branch. and is either: a point (when the angle between the plane and the axis of the cone is larger than tangential). Degenerate cases For more details on this topic. cylindric sections are obtained. in 0 real points. corresponding to the asymptotes – hyperbolae pass through infinity. producing two separate unbounded curves. and hyperbola. a double line (an ellipse with one infinite axis and one axis zero). as distended ellipses. unless the plane is vertical (which corresponds to passing through the apex at infinity). known as a ribbon (corresponding to an ellipse with one axis infinite and the other axis real and non-zero. but in 2 complex points.wikipedia. Hyperbolae can thus be seen as ellipses that have been pulled through infinity and re-emerged on the other side. There are five degenerate cases: three in which the plane passes through apex of the cone. The circle and the ellipse arise when the intersection of cone and plane is a closed curve. If the cutting plane is parallel to exactly one generating line of the cone. The circle can be considered as a fourth type (as it was by Apollonius) or as a kind of ellipse. which are conjugate. hyperbolae intersect the line at infinity in 2 points. including circles (2). and no intersection (an ellipse with one infinite axis and the other axis imaginary). the distance between the lines). These correspond respectively to degeneration of an ellipse. with the vertex at infinity. then re-emerges on the other branch at the other side but with the inside of the parabola (the direction of curvature) on the other side – left vs. The circle is obtained when the cutting plane is parallel to the plane of the generating circle of the cone – for a right cone as in the picture at the top of the page this means that the cutting plane is perpendicular to the symmetry axis of the cone. parabola. flipped. with a twist. and thus the intersection should be counted twice. 4 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . corresponding to the axis – they are tangent to the line at infinity.org/wiki/Conic_section The three types of conics are the ellipse. Going to infinity along one branch passes through the point at infinity corresponding to the asymptote. or a pair of intersecting lines (when the angle is smaller than the tangential).Wikipedia.e. Where the cone is a cylinder. the free encyclopedia http://en. When the plane passes through the apex. see Degenerate conic. a straight line (when the plane is tangential to the surface of the cone). the plane will intersect both halves (nappes) of the cone.Conic section . Cylindrical sections are ellipses (or circles). and three that arise when the cone itself degenerates to a cylinder (a doubled line can occur in both cases). this corresponds to the apex being at infinity. i. in which case three degenerate cases occur: two parallel lines. parabolae intersect the line at infinity in 1 double point. and close at infinity. ellipses. the figure is a hyperbola. Conics are of three types: parabolae (1). In the remaining case. which are characterized in the same way by angle. which gives further insight into their geometry: ellipses intersect the line at infinity in 0 points – rather. or hyperbolae (3). and a hyperbola. then the conic is unbounded and is called a parabola. the resulting conic is always degenerate. The straight line is more precisely a double line (a line with multiplicity 2) because the plane is tangent to the cone. In this case. parabola.
because we get zero times infinity.org/wiki/Conic_section Eccentricity The four defining conditions above can be combined into one condition that depends on a fixed point F (the focus). The corresponding conic section consists of all points whose distance to F equals e times their distance to L. and for e > 1 a hyperbola. parabola (e=1) and hyperbola (e=2) with fixed focus F and directrix (e=∞). this can be changed by a projective transform – pulling an ellipse out to infinity or pushing a parabola off infinity to an ellipse or a hyperbola. the statement that the circle consists of all points whose distance to F is e times the distance to L is not useful. Generalizations Conics may be defined over other fields. Geometrically. and may also be classified in the projective plane rather than in the affine plane. where The eccentricity of a conic section is thus a measure of how far it deviates from being circular. this corresponds to intersecting the line at infinity in either 2 distinct points (corresponding to two asymptotes) or in 1 double point (corresponding to the axis of a parabola). as type is not meaningful. 2 2 geometrically a complex rotation. each giving the same full ellipse or hyperbola. In other areas of mathematics 5 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . For 0 < e < 1 we obtain an ellipse. over either the reals or complex numbers. In projective space. yielding x − w = 1 – a hyperbola is simply an ellipse with an imaginary axis length. For an ellipse and a hyperbola. and one can imagine the directrix to be infinitely far removed from the center. the free encyclopedia http://en. In the case of a circle. Geometrically. However. a / e. all non-degenerate conics are equivalent. precisely. the line at infinity is no longer special (distinguished). The distance from the center to the directrix is is the semi-major axis of the ellipse. as it also has 2 (real) intersections with the line at infinity. since there is no meaningful difference 2 2 between 1 and −1. for e = 1 a parabola. and thus in projective geometry one simply speaks of "a conic" without specifying a type. the ellipse x + y = 1 becomes a hyperbola under the substitution y = iw.wikipedia. the smaller is the semi-minor axis.Wikipedia. so while some conics intersect the line at infinity differently. Over the complex numbers ellipses and hyperbolas are not distinct. or the distance from the center to the tops of the hyperbola. For a given . Thus there is a 2-way classification: ellipse/hyperbola and parabola. two focus-directrix combinations can be taken. the closer is to 1.Conic section . Ellipse (e=1/2). and thus the real hyperbola is a more suggestive image for the complex ellipse/hyperbola. the eccentricity e = 0. The distance from the center to a focus is . a line L (the directrix) not containing F and a nonnegative real number e (the eccentricity).
but in higher dimensions the more useful classification is as definite. and negative binomial distributions as hyperbolic. parabolic. parabolic. parabola). x2 – degenerate. as discussed at sectional curvature. to second order the surface looks like the graph of x + y . l. and may at each point be either positive – elliptic geometry. (all positive or all negative). namely by their positive index. but manifolds with constant sectional curvature are interesting objects of study. curvature The Gaussian curvature of a surface describes the infinitesimal geometry.org/wiki/Conic_section The classification into elliptic. and the wave equation is hyperbolic. The classification mostly arises due to the presence of a quadratic form (in two variables this corresponds to the associated discriminant). Second order PDEs Partial differential equations (PDEs) of second order are classified at each point as elliptic. The behavior and theory of these different types of PDEs are strikingly different – representative examples is that the Laplacian is elliptic. This classification underlies many that follow. is the negative index. zero – Euclidean geometry (flat. This is elaborated at cumulants of some discrete probability distributions. 6 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . or x2 − y2. the heat equation is parabolic. and hyperbolic is pervasive in mathematics. x (or 0). and often divides a field into sharply distinct subfields. but can also correspond to eccentricity. or negatively curved. or hyperbolic quadratic form. so k + l + m = n. – positive-definite (the negative is also included). corresponding to parabolae. is the positive index. (some zeros). degenerate. and negative index: a quadratic form in n variables can be converted to a diagonal form. In two variables quadratic forms are classified by discriminant. infinitesimally. Poisson distributions as parabolic. analogously to conics. Quadratic form classifications: quadratic forms Quadratic forms over the reals are classified by Sylvester's law of inertia. the number of −1 coefficients. k. and x2 − y2 – indefinite. or indefinite (mix of positive and negative but no zeros). or hyperbolic accordingly as their half-trace is or mirroring the classification by eccentricity. Variance-to-mean ratio The variance-to-mean ratio classifies several important families of discrete probability distributions: the constant distribution as circular (eccentricity 0). or hyperbolic. parabolic. and the remaining variables are the zero index m. the free encyclopedia http://en. corresponding to hyperbolae. corresponding to ellipses. or negative – hyperbolic 2 2 2 geometry.Conic section . Eccentricity classifications include: Möbius transformations Real Möbius transformations (elements of PSL2(R) or its 2-fold cover. zero index. accordingly as their second order terms correspond to an elliptic.Wikipedia. and have strikingly different properties. parabolic.. flat. binomial distributions as elliptical. Indeed. SL2(R)) are classified as elliptic. In higher dimensions the Riemann curvature tensor is a more complicated object. as where the number of +1 coefficients. In two variables the non-zero quadratic forms are classified as: x2 + y2. by the uniformization theorem every surface can be taken to be globally (at every point) positively curved..wikipedia.
one can consider conics as points in the five-dimensional projective space 2 These may be classified by the discriminant. 4 is a 7 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . if we also have A + C = 0. = C and B = 0. the graph of a quadratic equation in two variables is always a conic section – though it may be degenerate. Matrix notation In matrix notation the equation above becomes: or and . the equation represents a parabola. This is the usual way of representing a quadratic form by a symmetric matrix. and all conic sections arise in this way. for example x + y + 10 = 0). Note that A and B are just polynomial coefficients. while the factor of − 2 2 constant due to the use of B − 4AC rather than AC − (B / 2) in the quadratic formula. the equation represents an ellipse (unless the conic is degenerate.Wikipedia. B 2 if B − 4AC 2 2 if A − 4AC: if the conic is non-degenerate. 2 if B 2 if B − 4AC = 0. The equation will be of the form As scaling all six constants yields the same locus of zeros. the equation represents a rectangular hyperbola. the equation represents a circle. − 4AC > 0. the equation represents a hyperbola. the free encyclopedia http://en. then: < 0.wikipedia. not the lengths of semi-major/minor axis as defined in the following sections.Conic section .org/wiki/Conic_section Cartesian coordinates In the Cartesian coordinate system.
to degenerate intersections. a conic section is realized exactly as the intersection of the graph of the quadratic form z = Ax2 + Bxy + Cy2 and the plane z = − (Dx + Ey + F).org/wiki/Conic_section As slice of quadratic form The equation Ax2 + Bxy + Cy2 + Dx + Ey + F = 0 can be rearranged by taking the affine linear part to the other side. 2 Parabola: (at . These standard forms can be written as parametric equations. Therefore its Five points determine a conic 8 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 .btanθ) or Rectangular Hyperbola: . = x and y = − x. Hyperbola: (asecθ. Ellipses and hyperbolae can be realized by a horizontal plane (D = E = 0).asinθ). In this form.Wikipedia. Degenerate conics correspond = − 1 of a positive-definite form. while parabolae require that the plane be slanted. Ellipse: (acosθ.wikipedia.Conic section . such as taking slices such as z Standard form Through change of coordinates these equations can be put in standard forms: Circle: Ellipse: Parabola: Hyperbola: Rectangular Hyperbola: Such forms will be symmetrical about the x-axis and for the circle.bsinθ). Circle: (acosθ.2at). ellipse and hyperbola symmetrical about the y-axis. yielding Ax2 + Bxy + Cy2 = − (Dx + Ey + F). the free encyclopedia http://en. The rectangular hyperbola however is only symmetrical about the lines y inverse function is exactly the same as its original function.
is called the determinant of the conic section. If ∆ = 0 then the conic section is said to be degenerate. Similarly. which will be non-degenerate. there is a unique conic passing through them. because it contains a line). Or in matrix notation The matrix is called the matrix of the conic section. if δ<0. given any five points in the plane in general linear position. meaning no three collinear. Just as two (distinct) points determine a line. A conic section that intersects itself is always degenerate.org/wiki/Conic_section For more details on this topic. If δ = 0 then the conic section is a parabola.wikipedia. this means that the conic section is in fact a union of two straight lines. given any five points there is a conic passing through them. For example. Formally. see Five points determine a conic. is called the discriminant of the conic section. if they do not they are straight lines. the free encyclopedia http://en. Homogeneous coordinates In homogeneous coordinates a conic section can be represented as: A1x2 + A2y2 + A3z2 + 2B1xy + 2B2xz + 2B3yz = 0. five points determine a conic. Indeed. this is true over both the affine plane and projective plane. but if three of the points are collinear the conic will be degenerate (reducible. see further discussion.Wikipedia.Conic section . it is an rectangular hyperbola if δ<0 and A1 = -A2. it is an ellipse. it is an hyperbola and if δ>0. and may not be unique. A conic section is a circle if δ>0 and A1 = A2 and B1 = 0. It can be proven that in the complex projective plane CP2 two conic sections have four points in common (if one accounts for multiplicity). so there are never more 9 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . however not all degenerate conic sections intersect themselves. the conic section reduces to the union of two lines: . a conic section sometimes reduces to a (single) line: .
2 double intersection points. Polar coordinates In polar coordinates. the two conic sections are said to be osculating. Development of the conic section as the eccentricity e increases conic section circle equation eccentricity (e) linear eccentricity semi-latus rectum focal parameter (c) (ℓ) (p) 10 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . the conic section is a circle.0). which has multiplicity 4. a conic section with one focus at the origin and.Wikipedia. for e = 1 a parabola. 1 singular intersection point and 1 with multiplicity 3. the other on the x-axis. for 0 < e < 1 we obtain an ellipse. is given by the equation where e is the eccentricity and l is the semi-latus rectum (see below). the line is said to be tangent and it is called the tangent line. Furthermore each straight line intersects each conic section twice. and for e > 1 a hyperbola. the free encyclopedia http://en.Conic section . As above. if any. If these points are real. the conic section must be an ellipse. if they are imaginary conjugated. If a conic section has one real and one imaginary point at infinity or it has two imaginary points that are not conjugated it is neither a parabola nor an ellipse nor a hyperbola.-i. Because every straight line intersects a conic section twice. If there is only one intersection point. each conic section has two points at infinity (the intersection points with the line at infinity).0) and (1.wikipedia. we have a circle. If there exists at least one intersection point with multiplicity > 1. then the two conic sections are said to be tangent. for e = 0.i.org/wiki/Conic_section than 4 intersection points and there is always 1 intersection point (possibilities: 4 distinct intersection points. the conic section must be a hyperbola. if the conic section has one double point at infinity it is a parabola. 1 intersection point with multiplicity 4). 2 singular intersection points and 1 double intersection points. If the intersection point is double. If the points at infinity are (1. Parameters Various parameters are associated with a conic section.
The semi-latus rectum (ℓ) is half the latus rectum. a line L not containing F and a non-negative number e. The following relations hold: Conic parameters in the case of an ellipse Properties Irreducible conic sections are always "smooth". The linear eccentricity (c) is the distance between the center and the focus (or one of the two foci). The focal parameter (p) is the distance from the focus (or one of the two foci) to the directrix. More precisely. F is called the focus. The latus rectum (2ℓ) is the chord parallel to the directrix and passing through the focus (or one of the two foci).org/wiki/Conic_section ellipse parabola hyperbola Conic sections are exactly those curves that. In projective geometry. 11 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . and e the eccentricity. This is important for many applications. the conic sections in the projective plane are equivalent to each other up to projective transformations. they will both trace out ellipses. Applications Conic sections are important in astronomy: the orbits of two massive objects that interact according to Newton's law of universal gravitation are conic sections if their common center of mass is considered to be at rest. for a point F. L the directrix. they will both follow parabolas or hyperbolas. if they are moving apart. the free encyclopedia http://en. such as aerodynamics.Conic section . where a smooth surface is required to ensure laminar flow and to prevent turbulence. are the locus of points whose distance to F equals e times their distance to L. See two-body problem. If they are bound together.Wikipedia. they never contain any inflection points.wikipedia.
possibly coincident. see the articles circle. lines constituting it intersects each identified line with one of the two original conic. + µC2) = 0. The best method of locating these solutions exploits the homogeneous matrix representation of conic sections. parabola. This can be done by imposing that det(λC1 equation. the higher-dimensional analogs of conics Quadratic function Rotation of axes Dandelin spheres Projective conics Elliptic coordinates Parabolic coordinates Director circle Notes 1. In particular two conics may possess none. identify the two. The procedure to locate the intersection points follows these steps: given the two conics C1 and C2 consider the pencil of conics given by their linear combination λC1 + µC2 identify the homogeneous parameters (λ.Wikipedia. and hyperbola. this step can be done efficiently using the dual conic representation of C0 the points of intersection will represent the solution to the initial equation system Dandelin spheres See Dandelin spheres for a short elementary argument showing that the characterization of these curves as intersections of a plane with a cone is equivalent to the characterization in terms of foci.html.e. See also Focus (geometry). which turns out to be the solution to a third degree given the degenerate conic C0.Conic section .html) . Intersecting two conics The solutions to a two second degree equations system in two variables may be seen as the coordinates of the intersections of two generic conic sections.com /CylindricSection. ^ "MathWorld: Cylindric section" (http://mathworld. 12 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . the free encyclopedia http://en. two or four possibly coincident intersection points. i. a 3x3 symmetric matrix which depends on six parameters.org/wiki/Conic_section For specific applications of each type of conic section. or of a focus and a directrix. an overview of properties of conic sections related to the foci Lambert conformal conic projection Matrix representation of conic sections Quadrics. ellipse.µ) which corresponds to the degenerate conic of the pencil.com/CylindricSection.wikipedia. http://mathworld.wolfram.wolfram.
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