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You are on page 1of 14

1 Osculating/rectifying/normal

plane to a curve

Defn: The osculating plane at α(0) is the plane

spanned by T(0) and N(0)

The rectifying plane is the plane spanned by

T(0) and B(0)

The normal plane is the plane spanned by N(0)

and B(0)

The osculating plane comes closest to contain-

ing the curve α near α(0).

The normal plane is the plane perpendicular

to α at α(0).

2 Involute, evolute

Defn: The iinvolute of a curve α is the curve β

for which

β(t) (resp.) are perpendicular.

1. β(t) is then called the involute of α(t). α is

called an evolute of β. (There is more than

one evolute of β, but the involute of α is

unique.)

2. The involute can be characterized as

β(s) = α(s) + (c − s)T(s)

for some constant c.

3. If you wrap a string around the curve α

starting at s = 0, the involute β(s) is the

path the end of the string follows as you un-

wrap it, always pulling the string taut.

Proposition If β is arclength parametrized, then

1

α(s) = β(s) + N(s)

κ(s)

vature and torsion

Defn: A space curve is a curve in R3 which is not

a plane curve.

Defn: A rigid motion is a composition of transla-

tions and rotations. In other words F (x) = Ax+B

for a linear transformation A with det(A) > 0.

Theorem: Two curves C and D with nonzero

curvatures are congruent iff there is a rigid motion

F such that F (C) = D.

Proof:

(→)

Suppose F (C) = D for some rigid motion F

(F as above). Then D(s) = Aα(s)+B. So D′ (s) =

AC ′ (s). So |D′ (s)| = 1 because |C ′ (s)| = 1. Then

D is also arclength parametrized and T(D) = AT)C).

We differentiate once more to get κ(D)N(D)(s) =

κ(C)AN(s).

AN is a unit vector.

So since N(D) = AN(C), we have κ(D) =

κ(C).

But B(D) = T(D)xN(D) = A(T(C)×N(s)) =

AB(s) .

Finally B(D) = −τ N(D) and B′ (D) = AB′ (s) =

−τ (s)AN(s) = −τ (s)N(D)(s).

Hence τ (D) = τ (C) as we wanted to prove.

(←)

Suppose κ(C) = κ(D) and τ (C) = τ (D). We

define a rigid moton F as follows. Let A be the

unique orthogonal matrix so that AT(C) = T(D)

and similarly for N and B. Then det(A) = 1 .

Let B = D(0) − AC(0).

Set R(s) = AC(s).

Claim R(s) = D(s).

By the argument in the first part of the proof,

κ(D) = κ(AC) = κ(C) and similarly for τ .

Let

f (s) = T(AC)(s)·T(D)(s)+N(AC)(s)·N(D)(s)+B(AC

for T ′ , N ′ and B ′ .

This gives an expression that is 0 since there

are terms in κ(s) which cancel, and terms in τ (s)

also cancel.

So we have f (0) = 3 (we chose f that way), so

f (s) = 3 for all s.

Since each of the dot products (between unit

vectors) must be ≤ 1, the sum can only be 3 if all

terms are 1 for all s. This implies equality of the

T , (as well as the N and the B).

Example: A circular helix has constant κ and

constant τ . It follows from the Theorem that this

is the only curve that has constant κ and τ .

4 Isoperimetric inequality

Defn: A closed curve is simple if it does not in-

tersect itself.

The isoperimetric inequality maintains that if

γ is a simple closed curve with length L and en-

closing an area A, then

A ≤ L2 /(4π).

by r changes A by r2 and changes L by r, so it

does not affect the claim.

Assume γ is parametrized by arclength.

Let x(s) and y(s) be the coordinate functions

of γ. Because the curve is closed, x and y can be

expanded as a Fourier series:

X

x(s) = an eins

n∈Z

X

y(s) = bn eins

n∈Z

Since x and y are real-valued, x2 = |x|2 so by

Parseval’s identity

Z 2π X

1

|x′ (s)|2 ds = |nan |2 .

2π 0

n∈Z

Z 2π

L= |γ ′ (s)|ds.

0

Since

γ ′ (s)|2 = |γ ′ (s)| = 1

(because γ is arclength parametrized) we have

Z 2π

2π = L = (|x′ (s)|2 + |y ′ (s)|2 )ds.

0

So X

n2 (|an |2 + |bn |2 ) = 1.

n∈Z

Z Z 2π

1

A = (xdy−ydx) = (x(s)y ′ (s)−y(s)x′ (s))ds.

γ 2 0

Recall that the inner product of f and g is defined

as Z 2π

f (s)ḡ(s)ds.

0

Using the Fourier series of the real-valued

R 2π insfunc-

tions x(s) and y(s), and recalling that 0 e eims ds =

0 unless n = −m, we have that

X

A=π n(an b¯n − bn a¯n .

n∈Z

Now use

It follows that

A X X X

=| n(an b¯n −bn a¯n |≤ |n|(|an |2 +|bn |2 ) ≤ n2

π

n∈Z n∈Z n∈Z

Hence A ≤ π.

Because |n| < n2 when |n| > 1 we may con-

clude that the only curve for which A = L2 /(4π).

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