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gif animation science mathematics ellipse
gif animation science mathematics ellipse
gif animation science mathematics ellipse
gif animation science mathematics ellipse

Many Different Ways of Obtaining an Ellipse

In mathematics, an ellipse is a curve on a plane surrounding two focal points such that a straight line drawn from one of the focal points to any point on the curve and then back to the other focal point has the same length for every point on the curve. As such, it is a generalization of a circle which is a special type of an ellipse that has both focal points at the same location. The shape of an ellipse (how ‘elongated’ it is) is represented by its eccentricity which for an ellipse can be any number from 0 (the limiting case of a circle) to arbitrarily close to but less than 1.

There are many different ways of forming an ellipse. Above are a few examples!

In order:

  1. An animation of the Trammel of Archimides.
  2. An animation of Van Schooten’s Ellipse.
  3. An ellipse as a special case of a hypotrochoid.
  4. Matt Henderson’s animation of a curve surrounding two foci.

Can you think of other ways of forming an ellipse (there’s a really obvious method that isn’t listed above…)?


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