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Circle illustration showing a radius, a diameter, the centre and the circumference

Tycho crater, one of many examples of circles that arise in nature. NASA photo A circle is a simple shape of Euclidean geometry consisting of those points in a plane which are equidistant from a given point called the centre (British English) or center (American English). The common distance of the points of a circle from its centre is called its radius. Circles are simple closed curves which divide the plane into two regions, an interior and an exterior. In everyday use, the term "circle" may be used interchangeably to refer to either the boundary of the figure (also known as the perimeter) or to the whole figure including its interior. However, in strict technical usage, "circle" refers to the perimeter while the interior of the circle is called a disk. The perimeter of a circle is also known as the circumference, especially when referring to its length.

In this sense.A circle is a special ellipse in which the two foci are coincident. tangent. A sector is a region bounded by two radii and an arc lying between the radii.Arc. the terms "radius" and "diameter" can also refer to actual line segments (respectively. Chord. A chord of a circle is a line segment whose two endpoints lie on the circle. thus guaranteeing that all tangents are perpendicular to the radius and diameter that stem from the corresponding contact point on the circumference. A secant is an extended chord: a straight line cutting the circle at two points. the midpoint of a diameter is the centre and so it is composed of two radii. [edit] History . secant. and a line segment between two points on the perimeter passing through the centre). sector. and segment As well as referring to lengths. Circles are conic sections attained when a right circular cone is intersected with a plane perpendicular to the axis of the cone. An arc of a circle is any connected part of the circle's circumference. [edit] Further terminology The diameter of a circle is the length of a line segment whose endpoints lie on the circle and which passes through the centre of the circle. The diameter of a circle is twice its radius. A tangent to a circle is a straight line that touches the circle at a single point. a line segment from the centre of a circle to its perimeter. The diameter. This is the largest distance between any two points on the circle. and diameter. and a segment is a region bounded by a chord and an arc lying between the chord's endpoints. passing through the circle's centre. is the longest chord in a circle.

the study of the circle has helped inspire the development of geometry. makes much of modern civilization possible. Notice also the circular shape of the halo The etymology of the word circle is from the Greek. kirkos "a circle.[1] 300 BC ± Book 3 of Euclid's Elements deals with the properties of circles.The compass in this 13th century manuscript is a symbol of God's act of Creation. The origin of the word "circus" is closely related as well. and a short plant stalk blowing in the wind on sand.. Sun. 1880 ± Lindemann proves that is transcendental.. which forms a circle shape in the sand. and how it is different from any drawing. definition or explanation.[2] [edit] Analytic results .[citation needed] Some highlights in the history of the circle are: y y y y 1700 BC ± The Rhind papyrus gives a method to find the area of a circular field. such as the Moon. In Plato's Seventh Letter there is a detailed definition and explanation of the circle. effectively settling the millennia-old problem of squaring the circle. Early science. words. In mathematics. particularly geometry and astrology and astronomy. Plato explains the perfect circle. which." from the base ker. astronomy. The result corresponds to 256/81 (3.which means to turn or bend.16049. Natural circles would have been observed. was connected to the divine for most medieval scholars. The circle has been known since before the beginning of recorded history.) as an approximate value of . The circle is the basis for the wheel. and calculus. with related inventions such as gears. and many believed that there was something intrinsically "divine" or "perfect" that could be found in circles.

The circle is the plane curve enclosing the maximum area for a given arc length. approximately 79% of the circumscribing square (whose side is of length d). that is. the area enclosed by a circle is multiplied by the radius squared: Equivalently. This relates the circle to a problem in the calculus of variations. [edit] Equations [edit] Cartesian coordinates .141592654) for all circles. namely the isoperimetric inequality. Thus the length of the circumference (c) is related to the radius (r) by or equivalently to the diameter (d) by [edit] Area enclosed Area of the circle = × area of the shaded square Main article: Area of a disk As proved by Archimedes.[edit] Length of circumference Further information: Pi The ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter is (pi). denoting diameter by d. an irrational constant that takes the same value (approximately 3.

Circle of radius r = 1. the circle with centre coordinates (a. Alternatively. If the circle is centred at the origin (0. the ratio of t to r can be interpreted geometrically as the stereographic projection of the circle onto the line passing through the centre parallel to the x-axis. -0. interpreted geometrically as the angle that the ray from the origin to (x. centre (a. y) such that This equation of the circle follows from the Pythagorean theorem applied to any point on the circle: as shown in the diagram to the right.5) In an x-y Cartesian coordinate system. the radius is the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle whose other sides are of length x í a and y í b. then the equation simplifies to The equation can be written in parametric form using the trigonometric functions sine and cosine in a polar coordinate system as where t is a parametric variable. b) = (1. a rational parametrization of the circle is: In this parametrization.2. y) makes with the x-axis. b) and radius r is the set of all points (x. 0). In homogeneous coordinates each conic section with equation of a circle is of the form .

Evaluating at (x1. r0 = 0.It can be proven that a conic section is a circle if and only if the point I(1: i: 0) and J(1: íi: 0) lie on the conic section. this reduces to simply r = a. [edit] Complex plane In the complex plane. The slightly generalised equation for real p. y1) determines the value of c and the result is that the equation of the tangent is . and is the anticlockwise angle from the positive x-axis to the line connecting the origin to the centre of the circle. q and complex g is sometimes called a generalised circle. or when the origin lies on the circle. For a circle centred at the origin. In the general case. y1) and the circle has centre (a. When r0 = a. i. These points are called the circular points at infinity. giving . since . [edit] Polar coordinates In polar coordinates the equation of a circle is: where a is the radius of the circle. y1).e. a circle with a centre at c and radius (r) has the equation it In parametric form this can be written z = re + c. This becomes the above equation for a circle with . . the equation can be solved for r. b) to (x1. then the tangent line is perpendicular to the line from (a. Not all generalised circles are actually circles: a generalised circle is either a (true) circle or a line. r0 is the distance from the origin to the centre of the circle. [edit] Tangent lines Main article: Tangent lines to circles The tangent line through a point P on the circle is perpendicular to the diameter passing through P. the solution with a minus sign in front of the square root giving the same curve. the equation becomes r = 2acos( í ). If P = (x1. so it has the form (x1ía)x+(y1íb)y = c. b) and radius r.

(x1 í a)x + (y1 í b)y = (x1 í a)x1 + (y1 í b)y1 or (x1 í a)(x í a) + (y1 í b)(y í b) = r2. See circumcircle. When the centre of the circle is at the origin then the equation of the tangent line becomes x1x + y1y = r2. [edit] Properties y y y y y The circle is the shape with the largest area for a given length of perimeter. respectively. not all on the same line. it becomes the Riemannian circle. [edit] Chord y Chords are equidistant from the centre of a circle if and only if they are equal in length. there lies a unique circle. o A circle's circumference and radius are proportional. Through any three points. and its slope is . .R). (See Isoperimetric inequality. In Cartesian coordinates. This can also be found using implicit differentiation. it is possible to give explicit formulae for the coordinates of the centre of the circle and the radius in terms of the coordinates of the three given points. All circles are similar. o Thought of as a great circle of the unit sphere.) The circle is a highly symmetric shape: every line through the centre forms a line of reflection symmetry and it has rotational symmetry around the centre for every angle. If y1b then slope of this line is .  The constants of proportionality are 2 and . o The area enclosed and the square of its radius are proportional. The circle which is centred at the origin with radius 1 is called the unit circle. The group of rotations alone is the circle group T. Its symmetry group is the orthogonal group O(2.

and these tangents are equal in length. then a + b + c + d equals the square of the diameter. we find the required result. [edit] Tangent y y y The line perpendicular drawn to a radius through the end point of the radius is a tangent to the circle. The diameter is the longest chord of the circle. Given a chord of length y and with sagitta of length x. Since the diameter is twice the radius. then ab = cd. then they are supplemental. Given the length y of a chord.y y y y y y y y The perpendicular bisector of a chord passes through the centre of a circle. since the sagitta intersects the midpoint of the chord. we find that (2r í x)x = (y/2)². o The line segment (circular segment) through the centre bisecting a chord is perpendicular to the chord. [edit] Sagitta y y The sagitta (also known as the versine) is a line segment drawn perpendicular to a chord. then they are equal. the ³missing´ part of the diameter is (2r í x) in length. If a central angle and an inscribed angle of a circle are subtended by the same chord and on the same side of the chord. Using the fact that one part of one chord times the other part is equal to the same product taken along a chord intersecting the first chord. and the length x of the sagitta. If the intersection of any two chords divides one chord into lengths a and b and divides the other chord into lengths c and d. equivalent statements stemming from the uniqueness of the perpendicular bisector: o A perpendicular line from the centre of a circle bisects the chord. then the central angle is twice the inscribed angle. the Pythagorean theorem can be used to calculate the radius of the unique circle which will fit around the two lines: Another proof of this result which relies only on two chord properties given above is as follows. the exterior angle is equal to the interior opposite angle. If two angles are inscribed on the same chord and on opposite sides of the chord. o For a cyclic quadrilateral. Solving for r. If the intersection of any two perpendicular chords divides one chord into lengths a and b 2 2 2 2 and divides the other chord into lengths c and d. A line drawn perpendicular to a tangent through the point of contact with a circle passes through the centre of the circle. An inscribed angle subtended by a diameter is a right angle (see Thales' theorem). If two angles are inscribed on the same chord and on the same side of the chord. . we know it is part of a diameter of the circle. between the midpoint of that chord and the arc of the circle. Two tangents can always be drawn to a circle from any point outside the circle.

the angles BOA and BPA are supplementary. then denoting the center as O. If AD is tangent to the circle at A and if AQ is a chord of the circle. then DAQ = arc(AQ). y .y If a tangent at A and a tangent at B intersect at the exterior point P.