MATH 130

SPRING, 2012
AFFINE AND PROJECTIVE GEOMETRY
M. J. HOPKINS

1. Affine geometry
Much of this material is taken from Hartshorne [1].
Definition 1.1. An Affine plane is a set A whose elements are called points and
a collection of subsets of A called “lines” satisfying the properties listed below.
Now slow down there. Before stating the properties we need less fancy terminology. If ℓ is a line and P is a point, we will use the colloquialisms “ℓ contains P ”
or “P lies on ℓ” and “ℓ passes through P ” to indicate that P is an element of the
set ℓ. We will also say that a set of points {P1 , . . . , Pn } is collinear if there is a line
ℓ containing them all. Finally two lines ℓ1 and ℓ2 are parallel if they are the same
line (ℓ1 = ℓ2 ), or if they have no points in common (ℓ1 ∩ ℓ2 = ∅).
A1. Given two distinct points P and Q there is a unique line ℓ containing them
both.
A2. Given a line ℓ and a point P , there is one and only one line m which is
parallel to ℓ and passes through P .
A3. There exist three non-collinear points.
Before doing anything with this, let’s set up some examples. Let’s first check
that the thing we’re most familiar with is one.
Definition 1.2. The Euclidean plane is the affine geometry whose points are pairs
(x, y) of real numbers, and whose lines are the sets of points of the form
ℓa,b,c = {(x, y) | a x + b y + c = 0}
in which at least one of {a, b, c} is non-zero.
Note that the lines ℓa,b,c and ℓa′ ,b′ ,c′ coincide if and only if there is a non-zero
real number λ with
a′ = λa
b′ = λb
c′ = λc.
We need to check that this data defines an affine plane. Just to give you an
idea, let’s prove A1. Once you have the idea, you’ll be able to deal with the other
axioms. Suppose P = (x1 , y1 ) and Q = (x1 , y2 ) are two distinct points. The fact
that they are distinct means that one of x1 − x2 and y1 − y2 is non-zero. Suppose
it is x1 − x2 . We need to find a line ℓa,b,c containing both P and Q, and we need
to show the line is unique. Expanding out the definition, this means that we need
to solve the equations
ax1 + by1 + c = 0
ax2 + by2 + c = 0
1

If you do. and exactly 6 lines. it will be helpful to point out a lemma which will be useful later. In a way it is better to think of the picture as displayed in Figure 1. Before doing so. This proves axiom A1. HOPKINS for a.4) exhibits an affine plane with exactly four points.3. and R.) The reflexive property is also immediate from the definition. But P R and P Q are not parallel (why?). (1. and the point P is not on QR. So suppose they both contain a point P . The point R is not on the line P Q. since each of these points lies on exactly one of ℓQ or ℓR . the two lines which appear to cross (P S and QR) are in fact parallel. Q. and a few lines in it. Given any b. By A2 there is a line ℓR containing R and parallel to P Q and a line ℓQ containing Q and parallel to P R. you get the system of equations ax1 + by1 + c = 0 a + b(y2 − y1 )/(x2 − x1 )+ = 0. they are parallel. Q.  On to our tiny plane. Thus S is a unique fourth point. We will see later that the n × n plane satisfies the axioms for an affine plane if and only if n is a prime number. In the picture. We know by A3 that there are at least three points. In that picture the line QR and P S actually look parallel. b. The diagram (1. So suppose ℓ1 k ℓ2 and ℓ2 k ℓ3 . Proof: The symmetry relation ℓ k ℓ holds by definition (this is the reason we allow the case ℓ1 = ℓ2 in the definition of parallel. I will leave the details to you for now. In the exercise you will handle the other two exercises. J. Lemma 1. This means that there is a point S lying on both ℓQ and ℓR . This point cannot coincide with P . and c. Then ℓ1 and ℓ3 contain P and are parallel to ℓ2 . Note that all the lines in the 4-point plane have exactly 2 points.3.2 M. In an affine plane. The real work is in proving that the relation is transitive. and we need to show that the solution is unique up to multiplication by λ. Figure 2 shows the 9-point 3 × 3 plane. If ℓ1 and ℓ3 have no points in common. If the were we would have P R k ℓQ k ℓR k P Q and so P Q and P R would also be parallel by Lemma 1. or R. this means that ℓ1 = ℓ3 and they are parallel. This shows that an affine plane must contain at least four points. and then the first determines c. We can try to define an n × n affine plane in the same manner. Replacing b by λb replaces a by λa and c by λc. By the uniqueness in A2. Let’s call them P .4) PQ Q P? ??  ?? PR ?? ℓQ  ? R ℓ S R Now ℓQ and ℓR cannot be parallel. . and we are done. Are there any other examples? Let’s try and write down the smallest possible. the relation “parallel” is an equivalence relation. This is a simple problem in linear algebra. and all of the lines in the 9-point affine plane have exactly 3 points. the second equation determines a. You ought to do this by rowreducing. This is not an accident.

Some lines in the 3 × 3 affine plane Proposition 1. By A2 there is a unique line through X parallel to ℓ. Two parallel lines in the 4-point plane Figure 2.  Families of lines come up a lot in affine geometry. See Figure 3 for a picture.AFFINE AND PROJECTIVE GEOMETRY 3 Figure 1. I leave it to you to check that this correspondence between points of ℓ1 and points of ℓ2 is a bijection. Suppose that X is any point on ℓ1 . and so meets ℓ2 in a unique point Y . and a point P2 on ℓ2 which is not on ℓ1 .5. We may now set up our one-to-one correspondence. Proof: Suppose that ℓ1 and ℓ2 are two distinct lines. and it is useful to have a name for the kind that do. This line cannot be parallel to ℓ2 (why?). . There is a bijection between the points of any two lines in an affine plane. Write ℓ = P1 P2 . Then there is a point P1 on ℓ1 which is not on ℓ2 .

y) is a point not on ℓ. Let x ∈ ℓ1 be the unique point of intersection. HOPKINS Figure 3.b. 1.c′ are parallel.8.b. 1.5. 1.1. and P = (x. Make sure you really prove it. Exercises 1.3. Choose a line ℓ1 and another line ℓ2 which is not parallel to ℓ1 . 1.4. Let c′ = −ax − by. and that the lines ℓa.b. Bijection between two lines Definition 1. Show that there is another line ℓ′′ 6= ℓ which is not parallel to ℓ. Suppose that A is an affine plane. Show that there is another line ℓ′ 6= ℓ which is parallel to ℓ. The set of lines through a fixed point p in an affine plane is called the pencil of lines through p.6.c is a line. Similarly. Given a point P show that the unique line parallel to ℓ2 and containing P cannot be parallel to ℓ1 . Suppose that ℓa. Let A = R2 \ {0} be the complement of the origin in the Euclidean plane. Suppose that ℓ is a line in an affine plane. The construction is illustrated in Figure 4. Prove A3 for the Euclidean plane.4 M. Show that the 4 × 4-plane is not an affine plane. 1. let y ∈ ℓ2 be the unique point at which the line parallel to ℓ1 and containing P meets ℓ2 .6. Prove A2 for the Euclidean plane as follows.2. then it is a finite affine plane and has n2 points. Show that an affine plane with n2 points has exactly n2 + n lines. Show that the point P lies on the line ℓa. where ℓ ⊂ R2 is a Euclidean line. Show that the correspondence A → ℓ1 × ℓ2 P 7→ (x. Show that every line in an affine plane contains at least two points. . Does this define an affine plane? 1.7. Conclude that if an affine plane has one line with n < ∞ points. 1. J. y) is a bijection. In this exercise we set up coordinate systems.b. and define a line in A to be a subset of the form ℓ ∩ A.c′ . The set of lines parallel to a fixed line ℓ the pencil of lines parallel to ℓ.c and ℓa.

3. P4. and ℓ a line in A. and define a line in P∗ to be a pencil of lines in A. guaranteed by P1. I really do. Definition 2. As for P2. they are the same line by P1. If they meet in two points.” Example 2. suppose that ℓ1 and ℓ2 are two lines. P2. which means a set whose elements consist of the points of a line ℓ and the ideal point [ℓ]. So P2 could have been written as “two distinct lines meet in exactly one point.AFFINE AND PROJECTIVE GEOMETRY 5 Figure 4. The ideal point [ℓ] is also called the point at infinity of ℓ. there is a unique line containing them both. Projective geometry Things work out a little cleaner if we extend our affine planes by adding “ideal points” so that even parallel lines intersect. just to use our new language. or the line at infinity which means the set consisting of all the ideal points [ℓ]. It is sometimes called the Fano plane. and every line meets the line at infinity at its ideal point. There exist three non-collinear points. A coordinate system in an affine plane 2. The projective extension of the 4-point plane is illustrated in Figure 5. . Let P∗ be the set of lines in A. There is another way to get a projective plane from an affine plane A. Any two lines meet in at least one point. See the exercises. When P and Q are two distinct points it is common to use the symbol P Q to denote the unique line. Every line contains at least three points. containing them both. With this structure the extended affine plane P is a projective plane. We define the extended affine plane P to be the set whose elements are A and the ideal points [ℓ] of the lines of A. A line in P is either an extended line of A. Let A be an affine plane. P3. I leave it to you to check that this data defines a projective plane.2. By P2 they meet in at least one point. The ideal point of ℓ is the equivalence class [ℓ] of all lines parallel to ℓ (or.1. Example 2. P1. A projective plane is a set P called the set of “points” and a collection of subsets of P called “lines” satisfying P1-P4 below. Two parallel lines ℓ1 and ℓ2 of A now meet at their ideal points. the pencil of lines parallel to ℓ). Given two distinct points. A little explanation is in order.

you make a mark on your canvas at the point where the line through (x. Note that ℓa. z] with z 6= 0 are called the finite points and the points [x. y. in which at least one of {a. b.b′ . J. A projective 3-space is a set whose elements are called points. z) and the origin meets the plane z = 1. z] of triples of real numbers.c = ℓa′ . y/z) and sending (x. For our discussion of Desargues theorem.c′ if and only if there is a non-zero λ for which a′ = λa. λz] whenever λ is a non-zero real number. z] to (x/z. no three of which are collinear. HOPKINS Figure 5. The lines are the sets of the form ℓa. z] = [λx.5. together with certain subsets called lines. at least one of which is non-zero. The points [x. 0] form the projective line at infinity. and c′ = λc. . y) to [x. c} is non-zero. b′ = λb. y.4. The equivalence relation is that [x. z] | ax + by + cz = 0}. Indeed. Suppose you are sitting at the origin in R3 . and certain other subsets called planes. When you see a point (x. RP2 is the extended Euclidean plane. S4 Two planes have at least a line in common. y. y. The set of points of RP2 is the set of all equivalences classes [x. we will need the notion of a projective 3-space. y. I discussed this point of view further in class. This corresponds to the identification of the real projective plane with the extended Euclidean plane. λy. which satisfies the following axioms: S1 Two distinct points lie on a unique line. b.c = {[x. S5 There exist four non-coplanar points.6 M. Definition 2. y.b. and your canvas is the plane z = 1. Thus the points on your canvas really correspond to lines through the origin in R3 . S2 Three non-collinear points lie on a unique plane. y. z) you want to draw. 0]. The Euclidean projective plane or real projective plane.b. y. the set of finite points can be identified with the Euclidean plane by sending [x. The four-point plane and its extended (Fano) projective plane Example 2. y. One way to think of the real projective plane is in terms of perspective drawing. S3 A line meets a plane in at least one point. 1]. It can be described in terms of coordinates as follows. The ideal point of a Euclidean line ax + by + c = 0 is [a.

λz. Show that if one line of a projective plane P has (n + 1)-points. Let ℓ be a line in a projective plane. y. 1967. 1966/67.6.4. Its points are equivalences classes [x. References 1. Show that with this structure. Harvard University. Show that P has n2 + n + 1 lines. and a plane of RP3 is a 3-plane through the origin in R4 .5. Robin Hartshorne. Lecture Notes. Harvard University. Let P∗ be the set of lines of P. Let S∗ be the set of planes in S. where T is a 4 × 2 matrix with the property that one of its 2 × 2 sub-matrices has a non-zero determinant. y.b. Suppose that S is a projective 3-space. Cambridge. y. b. and define a line of P∗ to be a pencil of lines in P. with L a non-zero 4 × 1 matrix. 2. Exercises 2. w] of 4-tuples of real numbers. Inc. w] · T = 0} . Suppose that P is a projective plane..d = {[x. 2. with λ 6= 0 ∈ R. Example 2. Suppose that S is a projective 3-space.harvard. Foundations of projective geometry. The Euclidean projective 3-space RP3 is the set of lines through the origin in R4 . We could write this last condition as [x. and that two distinct planes in S meet in exactly one line. w] | ax + by + cz + dw = 0} in which at least one of a. z. 2. z. W.2. then P is finite and has n2 + n+ 1 points. a point of RP3 is a line through the origin in R4 . vol. a line of RP3 is a 2-plane through the origin in R4 . A plane is a set of points of the form Pa. λy. A line is a set of points of the form ℓT = {[x. Thus there are bijections points of S∗ ↔ planes of S lines of S∗ ↔ lines of S planes of S∗ ↔ points of S. z. y. Show that every pencil of lines in P contains exactly (n + 1) lines. Show that a line and a plane which does not contain the line meet in exactly one point. P∗ is a projective plane. 2. MA 02138 E-mail address: mjh@math. The equivalence relation is such that [x.6.1.c. y.edu . New York. λw]. y. z. z. c. w] = [λx. In more geometric terms. z. or d is non-zero. and define a plane of S∗ to be a set of planes in S passing through a given point of S. MR 0222751 (36 #5801) Department of Mathematics. Show that the map which associates to a point Q of ℓ the line P Q gives a bijection between the points of ℓ and the pencil of lines through P . Show that there is a bijection between any two lines in a projective plane. A.AFFINE AND PROJECTIVE GEOMETRY 7 S6 Every line has at least three points. Define a line in S∗ to be a pencil of planes through a line of S. 2. w] | [x. Benjamin. w] · L = 0. Show that with this structure S∗ is a projective 3-space.3. and P a point not on ℓ.