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AFFINE SPACES
The most of the geometrical notions of this chapter will be studied
in spaces for which the notions of point and vector are indispensable. The
notion of affine space allows using the two notions in a welldefined
environment.
§1. Definition and Examples
Let’s consider the nonempty set A = {A, B, C, …, P, Q, R …}and
agree to name each of its elements points, and bipoint of A any element (A,
B) ∈ A × A . Point A will be named the origin of the bipoint (A, B).
Bipoints (A, B) and (B, A) will be named symmetric bipoints.
1.1 Definition
It is called affine space the triplet (A, V, ϕ ), where A is
a nonempty set of points, V an Kvector space, and the
function ϕ : A
×
A → A,
V v B A ∈ · ) , ( ϕ
,which satisfies
the following conditions:
A
1
)∀ A, B, C ∈ A, ϕ (A, B) + ϕ (B, C) = ϕ (A, C)
A
2
)∀
∈ ∀ ∈ A V v ,
A there is a point B ∈ A, unique
determined by the relation
v B A · ) , ( ϕ
.
The set A is named support set of the affine space, and its elements
will be named points of the affine space. The vector space V is named the
directorial vector space of the affine space, and its elements will be named
vectors of the affine space. The function ϕ is named the affine structure
function.
The elements of an affine space are points and vectors.
The affine space (A, V, ϕ ) is named real or complex by the vector
space V which can be real or complex.
If we consider A = B = C in the axiom A
1
) , then ϕ (A, A) = 0
, ∀ A ∈ A. Therefore, thru the structure function, to any bipoint (A, A)
corresponds the null vector V ∈ 0 .
1
The corresponding vectors of a pair of symmetrical bipoints are
opposite vectors. Indeed, if we consider C = B, in axiom A
1
), we have
ϕ (A, B) =  ϕ (B, A).
1.2 Consequence.
Function ϕ is surjective and moreover,
for each fixed point O ∈ A, ϕ
O
: A → V ,
ϕ
O
(A) = ϕ (O, A), ∀ A ∈ A, is bijective.
The proof followes considering axioms A
1
) and A
2
).
In an affine space (A, V, ϕ ), the function ϕ determines an
equivalence relation on the bipoints set of A, which we will name relation of
equipollence.
We will say that the bipoint (A, B) is equipollent with the bipoint
(C, D) if they have the same image thru ϕ .
(A, B) ~ (C, D)
⇔
ϕ (A, B) = ϕ (C, D) (1.1)
It is easy to verify that the relation “~” is reflexive, symmetric and
transitive, meaning it is a relation of equipollence over A × A.
The factor space A × A
/~
is in a bijective correspondence with the
vector space V. To each vector v ∈V, corresponds a single equivalence
class of equipollent bipoints, and that is:
φ
1
( v ) = { (A,B)∈A × A φ (A,B) = v } (1.2)
When we identify the factor space A × A
/~
with the vector space V
thru this bijection, the class of the bipoint (A, B) denoted by AB , is named
free vector of the affine space.
Considering this, the axioms A
1
) and A
2
) can be written as follows:
∀ A, B, C ∈ A, C A C B B A
· + (1.3)
∀
∈ ∀ ∈ A V v ,
A, ∃ B∈ A, unique such that
v AB ·
Let O ∈A be a fixed point and A °={O}× A = {(O, A) / A∈A } the
set of the bipoints with O as origin.
Taking into consideration the Consequence 1.2 and that the relation
A ∈ A (O, A)∈A° is a bijective correspondence, it results that A° can
identify itself as well with A as with the directorial vector space V.
2
When A° is identified with the vector space V, a vector structure
from V is induced on A°. The vectors of this space are called tied vectors of
the affine space, or tangent vectors in O to A, and will be denoted by
OA
.
When A is identified with the vector space A° thru the bijection A
∈ A → (O, A) ∈ A
o
, it means that A was considered a vector space having as
origin the point O.
The vector OA A O OA · ∈ ) , ( ϕ will be named position vector.
Actually in any point O ∈ A of an affine space (A, V, ϕ ), a vector
space A°, which identifies with A°, can be constructed.
Following these identifications, the notion of dimension of an
affine space is justified as being the dimension of the directorial vector
space V.
If dimV= n, then the affine space of dimension n will be denoted
by (A
n
, V
n
), shortly A
n
.
Observations
1° If the vector space V is an euclidean vector space, then the affine
space (A, V, ϕ ) is called euclidean punctual space. If dimV=n, then we
will denote by E
n
the corresponding euclidean vector space. The euclidean
structure of the directorial vector space V will allow studying the metric
properties of certain subsets of the euclidean punctual space E
n
.
2° There are affine spaces that are not vector spaces. But, any
vector space is an affine space, because the function ϕ : V × V → V,
v u v u
− · ) , ( ϕ
verifies the axioms A
1
) and A
2
). The affine space (V, V,
ϕ ) such defined is named canonical affine space associated to the vector
space V.
Examples
1° The standard affine space
Let’s consider the standard space K
n
. This space can be organized
as a vector space for which we can associate the canonical affine space
(K
n
, K
n
, ϕ ), where the affine structure function ϕ is defined by the relation
ϕ ( A, B) = ( b
1
 a
1
, b
2
 a
2
, ..., b
n
 a
n
) , for A = ( a
1
, a
2
, ... , a
n
) and
B = (b
1
, b
2
, ..., b
n
). This affine space is named standard affine space and will
be denoted with K
n
as well.
Particularly for K = R, we have the affine standard space (R
n
, R
n
, ϕ )
where the directorial vector space R
n
is an euclidean space, therefore the
affine space (R
n
, R
n
, ϕ ) becomes an euclidean punctual space.
3
2° The geometrical affine space of the free vectors
Let’s consider as, support set, the punctual space of the elementary
geometry, denoted by E
3
, as directorial vector space , the vector space of
the free vectors V
3
and as affine structure function ϕ : E
3
× E
3
→ V
3
,
ϕ (A,B) = AB
∈
V
3
.
In this way we obtain the geometrical affine space of the free vectors
A
3
= (E
3
, V
3
, ϕ ). This space constituted the model for the affine spaces. We
will study in detail this space in the next chapter.
3° The linear variety of a vector space V are affine spaces.
A linear variety of a vector space V is a subset L, ' a L V + · , where
V ′ is a vector subspace of V.
If we consider the function:
ϕ ′ : L × L → V′ ,
v w w a v a − · + + ) , ( ' ϕ
,
then the axioms A
1
) and A
2
) are satisfied and, therefore, the triplet (L, V′ ,
ϕ ) is an affine space.
In particular, any vector subspace is an affine space.
2.5 Definition. A cartesian frame is a pair R = {O; B}, where O
is a fixed point in A
n
, and B = {
n
e e e ,..., ,
2 1
} is a
basis of the directorial vector space.
Let B = {
n
e e e ,..., ,
2 1
} be a basis of the vector space V
n
. Then, for
each point P ∈ A
n
, the position vector OP can be written in an unique way
as follows:
n n
e x e x e x OP
+ + + · ...
2 2 1 1
(2.8)
The scalars x
1
, x
2
,..., x
n
are called cartesian coordinates of the point
P with respect to frame R = {O; B}, and the bijection
n
n n
,...,x ,x x P K ) (
2 1
∈ ∈A
is called function of coordinates with
respect to frame R = {O; B}.
Let R = {O; B} be a cartesian frame in A
n
. Another frame R′
= {O′ ; B′ } of A
n
will be determined in an unique way if we know the
position vector of the point O′ with respect to the initial frame R and the
relation between the basis B ′ = { n
e e e ' ,..., ' , '
2 1 } and the initial
basis
B = {
n
e e e ,..., ,
2 1
}, that is:
4
n j a
e a e
e a OO
ij n
n
i ij i
i
n
i
i
, 1 , 0 ) det( ,
'
'
1
1
0
· ≠
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
·
·
∑
∑
·
·
(2.9)
If P ∈ A
n
is a point and (x
i
), (x’
j
), i,j =
n , 1
are its coordinates in the
frame R respectively R′ , then from the relation P O OO OP ' ' + ·
we obtain the formulas:
n j i a a x a x
ij i j ij i
, 1 , , 0 ) det( , '
0
· ≠ + ·
(2.10)
called the coordinate transformation formula.
By denoting X =
t
[x
1
, x
2
, ..., x
n
], X′ =
t
[x′
1
, x′
2
, ..., x′
n
], A
0
= (a
i0
),
A = (a
ij
) we can write the coordinate transformation formula in the
following form:
0
0
or
1 1 0 1
A ' AX X
' X A A X
+ ·
,
`
.

,
`
.

·
,
`
.

(2.11)
The matrix
,
`
.

1 0
0
A A
of n + 1 rank is called the matrix of change of
frames from R to R′ .
In particular, if B′ = B then A = I and the equations (2.11) are
written as:
n , i a ' x x A ' X X
i i
1 , or
0 1 0
· + · + ·
(2.11)′
The changing of the frame R = {O; B} with R′ = {O’; B} governed
by the coordinate transformation formula (11)′ is called translation.
If O′ = O, then changing the frame R = {O; B} with the frame R′
= {O; B′ }, meaning a
i0
= 0,
n i , 1 ·
, is called centroaffinity and is
characterised by the following equations:
n i x a x AX X
ij i
, 1 , ' sau '
1
· · ·
(2.11)′ ′
§3. Affine subspaces
Let (A , V, ϕ ) be an affine space, A′ a nonempty subset of A and
5
ϕ′ its restriction to A′ × A′ . If V ′ = ϕ (A ′ × A ′ ) is a vector
subspace of V then the axioms A
1
) and A
2
) are satisfied for the triplet
(A ′ , V′ , ϕ′ ).
3.1 Definition. We call affine subspace of the affine space
(A , V, ϕ ) a triplet (A ′ , V′ , ϕ′ ) , with the
properties:
A ′ ⊂ A is a nonempty subset
 V ′ = ϕ (A ′ × A ′ ) is a vector subspace of V
 ϕ ′ is the restriction of ϕ to A ′ × A ′ .
An affine subspace of the affine space (A , V, ϕ ) is determined
either by the subset A′ ⊂ A for which ϕ (A ′ × A ′ ) = V ′ ⊂ V is a
vector subspace, or by a point P
0
∈ A and a vector subspace V′ ⊂ V. In this
case the support set is given by
} ' A P / ' A { ' V ∈ ∈ ·
0
A A
.
Let us consider A and
A
two affine spaces.
3.7 Definition
An application t: A→ A with the property
t(α P + β Q) = α t(P) + β t(Q), ∀ P, Q ∈ A and
∀ α , β ∈ K, α +β =1 is called an affine
application.
An affine application t:A → A uniquely determines the morphism
T: V → V
~
between the associated vector spaces. Knowing that for
V v ∈ ∀
and ∀ A ∈ A, ∃ B ∈ A such that ϕ (A, B) =
v
, we can define
the associated linear map T : V → V
~
by
)) ( ), ( (
~
) ( B t A t v T ϕ ·
, where
ϕ
~
is affine structure function of the space A . The definition does not depend
on the choice of the point A.
The set of all bijective affine applications on A represents a group
GA(A), called the affine group.
We will name object of the affine space A any subset of points
belonging to A.
By affine geometry of the affine space A, means the study of all
objects, and their invariant properties with respect to the affine group.
The simplest and yet most important affine properties are:
 the property collinearity of three points
 the property of two affine spaces to be parallel
6
These mentioned affine properties aid in determining other
properties, therefore they will be called fundamental affine properties.
§4. The geometrical affine space of the free vectors
Let us consider E
3
the punctual space of the elementary geometry and
V
3
the vector space of the free vectors.
If we associate to any bipoint (A, B) ∈ E
3
× E
3
the free vector AB ∈
V
3
, then the application ϕ : E
3
× E
3
→ V
3
, ϕ (A, B) = AB satisfies
properties A
1
) and A
2
) of the affine space definition:
A
1
) ∀ A, B, C ∈ E
3
, AC BC AB · +
A
2
) ∀
v
∈ V
3
, ∀ A ∈ E
3
exists B ∈ E
3
uniquely determined by
v AB · .
4.1 Definition.
The triplet A
3
= (E
3
, V
3
,ϕ ) is called the affine
geometrical space of the free vectors.
The elements of the affine space A
3
are points and vectors. The
points of the affine space A
3
are points of the support set E
3
and we will
denote them by capital letters A, B, C, ..., O, P, ..., and the vectors of the
affine space A
3
are vectors of the directorial vector space V
3
, free vectors
that we’ll denote by AB , CD , ..., or by
,..., , ,..., , v u b a
. The
application ϕ : E
3
× E
3
→ V
3
which satisfies axioms A
1
) and A
2
) represents
the affine structure function, and the equivalence relation defined by it on
the set E
3
is exactly the relation of equipollence “~” of oriented segments,
like it was defined in the euclidean geometry.
Consider O ∈ E
3
a fixed point. The application ϕ : E
3
× E
3
→ V
3
defined by ϕ
0
(A) = ϕ (O, A), ∀ A ∈ E
3
is bijective allowing the
identification of the punctual space E
3
with the vector space of the free
vectors.
The point O ∈ E
3
, corresponding to the null vector 3 V ∈ 0 , will be
considered as origin of the affine space A
3
. Furthermore, ∀
v
∈V
3
there
exists an unique point A ∈ E
3
determined by the relation v OA · . The
vector OA is called the position vector of point A.
The set of the position vectors forms an isomorphic vector space
with the vector space of the free vectors.
Lets consider now two distinct points A and B of the space E
3
. The
affine subspace generated by A and B, L({A, B}) = {P ∈ E
3
/ ∃ λ ∈ R such
that P = (1  λ )A + λ B} = d is a subspace of dimension one named affine
line, shortly  line, having the directorial vector space the vector line
7
V
1
= { AP ∈ V
3
/ ∃ λ ∈ R such that AB AP λ · }
For each point P ∈ d \ {A, B}, collinear with A and B, the system of
points {A, B, P} is affinedependent, that means the vectors AP and
AB
are linearly dependent.
We remind that two vectors with the same direction are named
collinear vectors. The vectors of the subspace V
1
have the same direction,
which justifies the definition of collinearity from an affine space.
4.2 Proposition.
Two vectors
u
and
v
∈ V
3
are collinear if and
only if they are linearly dependent, meaning ∃
λ , µ ∈ R,
0
2 2
≠ +µ λ
such that
0 · + v u
µ λ
.
Proof. Consider O ∈ E
3
a fixed point. Consider A, B ∈ E
3
such that OA u ·
and OB v · . If u , v are collinear then the points O, A, B are collinear,
meaning that the system of points {O, A, B} is affine dependent. This is
equivalent with the linear dependence of the vectors OA and OB .
The oriented segments OA and OB are the representation of
vectors u and v in O, meaning that u are v linearly dependent for any
choice of point O.
Conversely, if
u
and
v
∈ V
3
are linearly dependent, then ∀O ∈ E
3
,
the vectors u OA · and v OB · are linearly dependent, meaning that the
system of points {O, A, B} is affine dependent. The collinearity of the points
O, A, and B is equivalent with the fact that the vectors u and v have the
same direction. (q.e.d.)
If
} { \ v 0
3
V ∈
is collinear with
3
V ∈ u
then we write:
v u λ ·
, λ ∈ R (the condition of collinearity) (4.1)
4.3 Consequence. The subset
3 3 1
0 V V V V ⊂ ≠ λ · ∈ λ ∃ ∈ · } v , v u , R / u {
of all collinear
vectors with the nonnull vector v is a one
dimensional vector subspace.
Any three noncollinear points are affine dependent, meaning that
any two noncollinear vectors are linearly dependent.
Three noncollinear points A, B, C ∈ E
3
determine a plane. The plane
generated by these three affine independent points is determined by:
A
2
= {P ∈ E
3
 ∃ λ , µ ∈ R , P = (1 λ  µ )A + λ B + µ C } = π ,
8
affine subspace having as directorial vector space the vector plane:
} AC μ AB λ AP R, μ λ,  AP { + · ∈ ∃ ∈ ·
3 2
V V
For any point P∈ π \ { A, B, C}, the system { A, B, C, P} is affine
dependent, which means that the vectors AP , AB and AC are linearly
dependent.
Three vectors u , v and w are considered to be coplanar if they
are parallel with a plane.
4.4 Proposition.
Three vectors
u
,
v
,
w
∈ V
3
are coplanar if
and only if they are linearly dependent, namely,
∃ λ , µ , ν ∈ R, λ
2
+ µ
2
+ ν
2
≠ 0 such that
0
· + + w v u ν µ λ .
If
u
,
v
∈ V
3
\{ 0 } are two vectors, then ∀
w
∈ V
3
coplanar
with u and v , can be written as follows:
w
=
v u µ λ +
, λ , µ ∈ R , (the condition of coplanarity) (4.2)
4.5 Consequence. The subset
3 3 2
} 0 { V V V ⊂ ≠ + · ∈ ∃ ∈ · v , u , v μ u λ w R , λ , μ  w
of all vectors
coplanar with the nonnull vectors u and v , is a
twodimensional vector space.
Consider now four noncoplanar points A, B, C, D ∈ E
3
. The system
of points {A, B, C, D} is affine independent, which means that any three
noncoplanar vectors are linearly independent. The affine space generated
by four noncoplanar points is of dimension three and any five points of this
space will be affine dependent.
4.6 Theorem. The vector space V
3
has three dimensions.
9
Proof. Any four noncoplanar points form an independent affine system,
which is equivalent with the existence of three noncoplanar (linearly
independent) vectors u , v , w . Let us demonstrate that these three non
coplanar vectors generate the vector space of the free vectors V
3
. For this,
let
x
be a fourth vector, O ∈ E
3
some point, and OA , OB , OC , OX
the
Fig. 1
representatives of the vectors u , v , w , x in the point O (fig. 1).
Using twice the parallelogram rule for summing two free vectors in
the parallelogram OA
1
X
1
B and respectively OX
1
XC
1
, it results:
1 1 1
OC OB OA OX + + ·
Because
1
OA and OA ,
1
OB and OB ,
1
OC and OC are
collinear then we have
OC OB OA OX ν µ λ + + ·
or
w v u x ν µ λ + + ·
,
namely { u , v , w } is a basis for the vector space of the free vectors,
therefore dimV
3
= 3. q.e.d.
For any point O ∈ E
3
and a given { 3 2 1
, , e e e
} basis in V
3
, the
ensemble R (O;
3 2 1
, , e e e
) represents a cartesian frame in the affine space
A
3
= ( E
3
, V
3
, ϕ ).
For any point P ∈ E
3
we have the position vector OP given by:
3 3 2 2 1 1
e x e x e x OP + + ·
; x
1
, x
2
, x
3
∈ R
The scalars x
1
, x
2
, x
3
∈ R are called cartesian coordinates of point P.
10
C
B
A
C
1
B
1
A
1
X
1
X
O
If
u
∈ V
3
is a free vector, then P ∈ E
3
is unique, such that OP u · ,
and in the frame R u is written as:
3 3 2 2 1 1
e x e x e x u + + ·
,
where the scalars x
1
, x
2
, x
3
∈ R, the coordinates of point P, will be called the
coordinates of vector u
in the frame R.
If R(O;
3 2 1
, , e e e
) is a fixed cartesian frame, A
3
is a geometrical
affine space and x
1
, x
2
, x
3
∈ R are the coordinates of vector
u
∈ V
3
, we
will write that u
= ( x
1
, x
2
, x
3
) or briefly u
( x
1
, x
2
, x
3
).
If we have
1
u
( x
1
, x
2
, x
3
) and
2
u
( y
1
, y
2
, y
3
) two free vectors, then:
1°
1
u
is collinear with
2
u
(
1
u

2
u
) if and only if their coordinates
are proportional (or equal in the particular case of
1
u
=
2
u
).
2°
1
u
,
2
u
,
3
u
are coplanar if and only if the coodinates of one
vector represents a linear combination of the other two.
11
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