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Parabola 2. In analytic geometry. a conic may be defined as a plane algebraic curve of degree 2.Conic section .1 Intersection at infinity 2. Cyclopaedia. when Apollonius of Perga undertook a systematic study of their properties.3 Omar Khayyám 1. Hyperbola Table of conics. the free encyclopedia http://en.4 Europe 2 Types 2.wikipedia.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. Circle and ellipse 3.2 Apollonius of Perga 1. a right circular conical surface) with a plane.1 Menaechmus 1.org/wiki/Conic_section In mathematics.2 Degenerate cases 2. Contents 1 History 1.4 Generalizations 2.3 Eccentricity 2.2 As slice of quadratic form 3. a conic section (or just conic) is a curve obtained by intersecting a cone (more precisely.Wikipedia. The conic sections were named and studied as long ago as 200 BC.1 Matrix notation 3.5 In other areas of mathematics 3 Cartesian coordinates 3. 1728 2 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 .
If the angle is acute then the conic is an ellipse. Meanwhile. In particular. Pappus is credited with discovering importance of the concept of a focus of a conic. and the discovery of the related concept of a directrix. Note that the circle cannot be defined this way and was not considered a conic at this time. René Descartes applied his newly discovered Analytic geometry to the study of conics. however. Archimedes is known to have studied conics.wikipedia. a precursor to the concept of limits.Wikipedia. the most notable of these was the Persian mathematician and poet Omar Khayyám who used conic sections to solve algebraic equations. 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. This work does not survive. it was now possible to show that any plane cutting the cone. leading to the definition commonly used today. this greatly simplified analysis. Persians found applications to the theory. Apollonius of Perga The greatest progress in the study of conics by the ancient Greeks is due to Apollonius of Perga. With this tool.org/wiki/Conic_section 15 External links History Menaechmus It is believed that the first definition of a conic section is due to Menaechmus. Europe Johann Kepler extended the theory of conics through the "principle of continuity". the free encyclopedia http://en. 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.Conic section . The only part of this work to survive is a book on the solids of revolution of conics. if the angle is right then the conic is a parabola. Euclid is said to have written four books on conics but these were lost as well. Pascal discovered a theorem known as the hexagrammum mysticum from which many other properties of conics can be deduced. having determined the area bounded by a parabola and an ellipse. whose eight volume Conic Sections summarized the existing knowledge at the time and greatly extended it. Types 3 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . Apollonius's major innovation was to characterize a conic using properties within the plane and intrinsic to the curve. This had the effect of reducing the geometrical problems of conics to problems in algebra. regardless of its angle. and is only known through secondary accounts. 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. and if the angle is obtuse then the conic is a hyperbola. Thus the shape of the conic is determined by the angle formed at the vertex of the cone. will produce a conic according to the earlier definition.
Wikipedia. The circle and the ellipse arise when the intersection of cone and plane is a closed curve. Intersection at infinity An algebro-geometrically intrinsic form of this classification is by the intersection of the conic with the line at infinity.Conic section . cylindric sections are obtained. and thus the intersection should be counted twice. a double line (an ellipse with one infinite axis and one axis zero). and hyperbola. In the remaining case. Hyperbolae can thus be seen as ellipses that have been pulled through infinity and re-emerged on the other side. i. and is either: a point (when the angle between the plane and the axis of the cone is larger than tangential). When the plane passes through the apex. in which case three degenerate cases occur: two parallel lines. 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 resulting conic is always degenerate. and three that arise when the cone itself degenerates to a cylinder (a doubled line can occur in both cases).wikipedia. hyperbolae intersect the line at infinity in 2 points. the figure is a hyperbola. and close at infinity. with a twist. but in 2 complex points. or hyperbolae (3). In this case. the free encyclopedia http://en. this corresponds to the apex being at infinity. though often one is ignored. known as a ribbon (corresponding to an ellipse with one axis infinite and the other axis real and non-zero. The straight line is more precisely a double line (a line with multiplicity 2) because the plane is tangent to the cone. Conics are of three types: parabolae (1). 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.e. Where the cone is a cylinder. see Degenerate conic. with the vertex at infinity. then the conic is unbounded and is called a parabola. producing two separate unbounded curves. the distance between the lines). and no intersection (an ellipse with one infinite axis and the other axis imaginary). 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. Degenerate cases For more details on this topic. or a pair of intersecting lines (when the angle is smaller than the tangential). corresponding to the axis – they are tangent to the line at infinity. the plane will intersect both halves (nappes) of the cone. parabola. corresponding to the asymptotes – hyperbolae pass through infinity. in 0 real points. which are conjugate. 4 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . parabola. parabolae intersect the line at infinity in 1 double point. as distended ellipses. The circle can be considered as a fourth type (as it was by Apollonius) or as a kind of ellipse. a straight line (when the plane is tangential to the surface of the cone). There are five degenerate cases: three in which the plane passes through apex of the cone. which gives further insight into their geometry: ellipses intersect the line at infinity in 0 points – rather. which are characterized in the same way by angle. flipped. Going to infinity along one branch passes through the point at infinity corresponding to the asymptote. unless the plane is vertical (which corresponds to passing through the apex at infinity). These correspond respectively to degeneration of an ellipse. Cylindrical sections are ellipses (or circles). If the cutting plane is parallel to exactly one generating line of the cone. and a hyperbola.org/wiki/Conic_section The three types of conics are the ellipse. ellipses. including circles (2).
where The eccentricity of a conic section is thus a measure of how far it deviates from being circular. In the case of a circle. the closer is to 1. a line L (the directrix) not containing F and a nonnegative real number e (the eccentricity). the free encyclopedia http://en.Wikipedia. The distance from the center to the directrix is is the semi-major axis of the ellipse. for e = 1 a parabola.Conic section . Ellipse (e=1/2). the smaller is the semi-minor axis. Geometrically. or the distance from the center to the tops of the hyperbola.wikipedia. The corresponding conic section consists of all points whose distance to F equals e times their distance to L. 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). The distance from the center to a focus is .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). 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 line at infinity is no longer special (distinguished). Generalizations Conics may be defined over other fields. For a given . each giving the same full ellipse or hyperbola. For 0 < e < 1 we obtain an ellipse. parabola (e=1) and hyperbola (e=2) with fixed focus F and directrix (e=∞). and for e > 1 a hyperbola. Over the complex numbers ellipses and hyperbolas are not distinct. yielding x − w = 1 – a hyperbola is simply an ellipse with an imaginary axis length. the ellipse x + y = 1 becomes a hyperbola under the substitution y = iw. Geometrically. so while some conics intersect the line at infinity differently. all non-degenerate conics are equivalent. precisely. the eccentricity e = 0. and one can imagine the directrix to be infinitely far removed from the center. Thus there is a 2-way classification: ellipse/hyperbola and parabola. For an ellipse and a hyperbola. over either the reals or complex numbers. as it also has 2 (real) intersections with the line at infinity. In projective space. two focus-directrix combinations can be taken. 2 2 geometrically a complex rotation. However. since there is no meaningful difference 2 2 between 1 and −1. and thus the real hyperbola is a more suggestive image for the complex ellipse/hyperbola. because we get zero times infinity. and thus in projective geometry one simply speaks of "a conic" without specifying a type. In other areas of mathematics 5 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . a / e. the statement that the circle consists of all points whose distance to F is e times the distance to L is not useful. as type is not meaningful. and may also be classified in the projective plane rather than in the affine plane.
or hyperbolic. analogously to conics.Wikipedia. or indefinite (mix of positive and negative but no zeros). – positive-definite (the negative is also included). parabolic. is the positive index. x (or 0). Indeed. curvature The Gaussian curvature of a surface describes the infinitesimal geometry. x2 – degenerate.wikipedia. the heat equation is parabolic. zero – Euclidean geometry (flat. and the remaining variables are the zero index m. and may at each point be either positive – elliptic geometry. In two variables the non-zero quadratic forms are classified as: x2 + y2. k. 6 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . parabolic. (all positive or all negative). and x2 − y2 – indefinite. as discussed at sectional curvature. Variance-to-mean ratio The variance-to-mean ratio classifies several important families of discrete probability distributions: the constant distribution as circular (eccentricity 0). corresponding to parabolae. The classification mostly arises due to the presence of a quadratic form (in two variables this corresponds to the associated discriminant). or x2 − y2. corresponding to hyperbolae. but can also correspond to eccentricity. degenerate. the number of −1 coefficients. In higher dimensions the Riemann curvature tensor is a more complicated object. and negative binomial distributions as hyperbolic. SL2(R)) are classified as elliptic. corresponding to ellipses.Conic section . and often divides a field into sharply distinct subfields. or negative – hyperbolic 2 2 2 geometry. binomial distributions as elliptical. or negatively curved.. is the negative index. the free encyclopedia http://en.. flat. This is elaborated at cumulants of some discrete probability distributions. parabolic.org/wiki/Conic_section The classification into elliptic. or hyperbolic accordingly as their half-trace is or mirroring the classification by eccentricity. and hyperbolic is pervasive in mathematics. so k + l + m = n. by the uniformization theorem every surface can be taken to be globally (at every point) positively curved. The behavior and theory of these different types of PDEs are strikingly different – representative examples is that the Laplacian is elliptic. but manifolds with constant sectional curvature are interesting objects of study. to second order the surface looks like the graph of x + y . In two variables quadratic forms are classified by discriminant. l. Quadratic form classifications: quadratic forms Quadratic forms over the reals are classified by Sylvester's law of inertia. and negative index: a quadratic form in n variables can be converted to a diagonal form. or hyperbolic quadratic form. as where the number of +1 coefficients. but in higher dimensions the more useful classification is as definite. Second order PDEs Partial differential equations (PDEs) of second order are classified at each point as elliptic. parabola). infinitesimally. and have strikingly different properties. accordingly as their second order terms correspond to an elliptic. zero index. This classification underlies many that follow. and the wave equation is hyperbolic. (some zeros). Poisson distributions as parabolic. parabolic. namely by their positive index. Eccentricity classifications include: Möbius transformations Real Möbius transformations (elements of PSL2(R) or its 2-fold cover.
the graph of a quadratic equation in two variables is always a conic section – though it may be degenerate. the equation represents a rectangular hyperbola.org/wiki/Conic_section Cartesian coordinates In the Cartesian coordinate system. and all conic sections arise in this way. if we also have A + C = 0. B 2 if B − 4AC 2 2 if A − 4AC: if the conic is non-degenerate. the equation represents a hyperbola. one can consider conics as points in the five-dimensional projective space 2 These may be classified by the discriminant. the free encyclopedia http://en. then: < 0. Matrix notation In matrix notation the equation above becomes: or and . the equation represents a circle. 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 will be of the form As scaling all six constants yields the same locus of zeros. the equation represents an ellipse (unless the conic is degenerate. not the lengths of semi-major/minor axis as defined in the following sections. − 4AC > 0.Conic section . the equation represents a parabola. = C and B = 0. 2 if B 2 if B − 4AC = 0. 4 is a 7 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 .Wikipedia.wikipedia. This is the usual way of representing a quadratic form by a symmetric matrix. for example x + y + 10 = 0).
Degenerate conics correspond = − 1 of a positive-definite form. The rectangular hyperbola however is only symmetrical about the lines y inverse function is exactly the same as its original function. 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. In this form. Circle: (acosθ. = x and y = − x. yielding Ax2 + Bxy + Cy2 = − (Dx + Ey + F).wikipedia. ellipse and hyperbola symmetrical about the y-axis. while parabolae require that the plane be slanted. the free encyclopedia http://en.asinθ). Ellipse: (acosθ. Hyperbola: (asecθ. These standard forms can be written as parametric equations. to degenerate intersections. 2 Parabola: (at . Ellipses and hyperbolae can be realized by a horizontal plane (D = E = 0).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.2at).btanθ) or Rectangular Hyperbola: .bsinθ).Wikipedia. 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). Therefore its Five points determine a conic 8 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 .Conic section .
is called the determinant of the conic section. this is true over both the affine plane and projective plane.wikipedia. meaning no three collinear. it is an ellipse. given any five points there is a conic passing through them. If δ = 0 then the conic section is a parabola. is called the discriminant of the conic section. which will be non-degenerate. the free encyclopedia http://en. but if three of the points are collinear the conic will be degenerate (reducible. Homogeneous coordinates In homogeneous coordinates a conic section can be represented as: A1x2 + A2y2 + A3z2 + 2B1xy + 2B2xz + 2B3yz = 0. For example.Conic section . it is an rectangular hyperbola if δ<0 and A1 = -A2. Or in matrix notation The matrix is called the matrix of the conic section.org/wiki/Conic_section For more details on this topic. however not all degenerate conic sections intersect themselves. see Five points determine a conic. see further discussion. Similarly. five points determine a conic. and may not be unique. if δ<0. so there are never more 9 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 . there is a unique conic passing through them. If ∆ = 0 then the conic section is said to be degenerate. the conic section reduces to the union of two lines: . this means that the conic section is in fact a union of two straight lines. It can be proven that in the complex projective plane CP2 two conic sections have four points in common (if one accounts for multiplicity). it is an hyperbola and if δ>0. Indeed. Formally. Just as two (distinct) points determine a line.Wikipedia. given any five points in the plane in general linear position. a conic section sometimes reduces to a (single) line: . because it contains a line). if they do not they are straight lines. A conic section that intersects itself is always degenerate. A conic section is a circle if δ>0 and A1 = A2 and B1 = 0.
the line is said to be tangent and it is called the tangent line. if any. is given by the equation where e is the eccentricity and l is the semi-latus rectum (see below). the free encyclopedia http://en. 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. Because every straight line intersects a conic section twice. If there exists at least one intersection point with multiplicity > 1. 1 singular intersection point and 1 with multiplicity 3. 1 intersection point with multiplicity 4). the other on the x-axis. 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 . Furthermore each straight line intersects each conic section twice. which has multiplicity 4.org/wiki/Conic_section than 4 intersection points and there is always 1 intersection point (possibilities: 4 distinct intersection points. the two conic sections are said to be osculating.Conic section . If the intersection point is double. for 0 < e < 1 we obtain an ellipse. Polar coordinates In polar coordinates. if they are imaginary conjugated. for e = 0. the conic section must be a hyperbola. Parameters Various parameters are associated with a conic section. If the points at infinity are (1. and for e > 1 a hyperbola. the conic section must be an ellipse. If there is only one intersection point. As above.wikipedia.i. each conic section has two points at infinity (the intersection points with the line at infinity).0) and (1.-i.0). 2 double intersection points. If these points are real. we have a circle. the conic section is a circle. 2 singular intersection points and 1 double intersection points. then the two conic sections are said to be tangent. a conic section with one focus at the origin and. if the conic section has one double point at infinity it is a parabola.Wikipedia. for e = 1 a parabola.
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. F is called the focus. L the directrix. they never contain any inflection points. The semi-latus rectum (ℓ) is half the latus rectum. are the locus of points whose distance to F equals e times their distance to L. 11 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 .wikipedia. a line L not containing F and a non-negative number e. such as aerodynamics. for a point F.Wikipedia. where a smooth surface is required to ensure laminar flow and to prevent turbulence. The latus rectum (2ℓ) is the chord parallel to the directrix and passing through the focus (or one of the two foci). The following relations hold: Conic parameters in the case of an ellipse Properties Irreducible conic sections are always "smooth". and e the eccentricity. if they are moving apart. 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. the conic sections in the projective plane are equivalent to each other up to projective transformations. they will both trace out ellipses. In projective geometry.org/wiki/Conic_section ellipse parabola hyperbola Conic sections are exactly those curves that.Conic section . the free encyclopedia http://en. See two-body problem. they will both follow parabolas or hyperbolas. More precisely. If they are bound together. This is important for many applications.
the higher-dimensional analogs of conics Quadratic function Rotation of axes Dandelin spheres Projective conics Elliptic coordinates Parabolic coordinates Director circle Notes 1. identify the two. This can be done by imposing that det(λC1 equation. ellipse. an overview of properties of conic sections related to the foci Lambert conformal conic projection Matrix representation of conic sections Quadrics.com/CylindricSection. 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.e. The best method of locating these solutions exploits the homogeneous matrix representation of conic sections. In particular two conics may possess none.wolfram. or of a focus and a directrix.html. 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. parabola. + µC2) = 0. two or four possibly coincident intersection points. possibly coincident. 12 of 13 4/22/2010 18:13 .com /CylindricSection. See also Focus (geometry). see the articles circle.wolfram.Wikipedia. i. http://mathworld. the free encyclopedia http://en.µ) which corresponds to the degenerate conic of the pencil.Conic section . a 3x3 symmetric matrix which depends on six parameters. and hyperbola. ^ "MathWorld: Cylindric section" (http://mathworld. which turns out to be the solution to a third degree given the degenerate conic C0. lines constituting it intersects each identified line with one of the two original conic.html) .wikipedia.org/wiki/Conic_section For specific applications of each type of conic section. 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.
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