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geometryrevisited_coxetergreitzer_0883856190

geometryrevisited_coxetergreitzer_0883856190

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We have seen that any circle through 0 (with 0 itself omitted) in-
verts into a line, and that any circle with center 0 inverts into a circle.
It is natural to ask what happens to a circle in other positions. As a
first step in this direction, we proceed to find how inversion affects the
distance between two points.

THEOREM

5.41. If a circle with center 0 and radius k inverts a point
pair AB into A'B', the distances are related by the equation

A'B' = k2AB
OA x OB'

For, since AOAB - AOB'A' (Figure 5.4A), we have

A'B'

OA'

OA X OA'

=

=

-
- k2

AB

OB

OA X OB

OA X OB'

From this we can easily deduce the preservation of cross ratio:t

THEOREM

5.42. If A, B, C, D invert into A', B', C', D, then

( A'B', C'D') = ( AB, CD).

In fact,

k2AC

WBD

( A'B', C'D') = A'C'XB'D - OAXOC OBXOD

-

A'D' X B'C'

k2AD

k2BC
OA X OD OB X OC

-
- AC X BD

= (AB, CD).

AD X BC

This, in turn, yields the preservation of separation:

THEOREM

5.43. If A, B, C, D invert into A', B', C', D' and

AC//BD, then AIC'//B'D'.

For, with the help of Theorems 5.21 and 5.42, we find that the relation
A C // BD implies

whence A'C' // B'D'.

t J. Casey, A Sequel lo !kc Firsl Six Books oj the Elemenls of Euclid (6th ed.), Hodges

Figgis, Dublin, 1892, p. 100.

INVERSE OF A CIRCLE

Figure 5.4A

At the end of Section 5.2 (page 107), we saw that any given circle can
be described, in terms of three of its points, as consisting of A, B, C and
all points X satisfying BC // AX or CA J/ BX or AB // CX. Hence
the inverse of the given circle consists of A', B', C' and all points X'
satisfying B'C' // A'X' or C'A' // B'X' or A'B' // C'X'; that is, the
inverse is the circle (or line) A'B'C'. As we saw in Section 5.3 (page 109)
the inverse is a line if and only if the given circle passes through 0.
This completes the proof of

THEOREM

5.44. The inverse of any circle not passing through 0 is a

circk not passing through 0.

The description of a circle (or line) in terms of separation suggests
that it may be useful to modify our terminology so as to let the word
circk include line as a special case, that is, to regard a line as a circle of
infinite radius. At the same time, we agree to add to the Euclidean plane
a single point at infinity P,, which is the inverse of the center of any
circle of inversion. The plane, so completed, is called the inversive plane.
Since a circle with center 0 inverts any circle through 0 into a line,
we regard a line as a circle through P,. Since two circles tangent to each
other at 0 invert into parallel lines, we regard parallel lines as circles
tangent to each other at P,. With this convention, we can combine
Theorem 5.44 with the results of Section 5.3 so as to obtain, for the
inversive plane,

THEOREM

5.45. The inverse oj any circle is a circle.

The addition of P, to the Euclidean plane enables us to declare that
inversion is a one-to-one transformation of the whole inversive plane:
every point (without exception) has an inverse, and every point is the
inverse of some point.
Two circles are said to be intersecting, tangent or nm-intersecting
according as their number of common points is 2, 1, or 0. Hence a pair

114

INVERSIVE GEOMETRY

of circles of any one of these three types inverts into a pair of the same
type (including, among pairs of "tangent circles", one circle and a
tangent line, as well as two parallel lines).

EXERCISES

1. Let A be any point outside a circle w, A'its inverse, and P a variable
point on w; then the ratio PAIPA' is constant. Conversely, if B
and C divide a given line segment AA' internally and externally in
a given ratio (diierent from 1, as'in Exercise 2(i) of Section 5.2), the
circle on BC as diameter is the locus of points whose distances from
A and A'are in this ratio. (The locus is called the circle ofApoUoniw.)

2. Let any point on a circle w be joined to the ends of a diameter by lines
meeting the perpendicular diameter at P and P'. Then P' is the
inverse of P.

3. Through any two points inside a circle, just two circles can be drawn
tangent to the given circle.

4. With any three distinct points as centers, let three circles, tangent to one
another at three distinct points, be drawn. (The points do not necessarily
form a triangle; they may be collinear.) Then there are exactly two circles
tangent to all the three circles. These two circles are nonintersecting.
(They are sometimes called Soddy's circles [6, pp. 13-16] although they
were described by Steiner as long ago as 1826 in the first volume of Crelle's
Journalfur Mathemutik, p. 274.)

5. Give a quick proof for Theorem 5.12, using inversion [23, pp. 10-111.

6. The inverse, in a circle w with center 0, of a circle a through 0, is
the radical axis (see page 34) of w and a.

7. When a line is regarded as a special case of a circle, is a pair of lines
through one point a pair of tangent circles or a pair of intersecting circles?
Explain your answer in terms of the number of points common to the
two lines.

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