Analytic geometry

Analytic geometry is used in physics and engineering, and also in aviation, rocketry, space science, and spaceflight. It is the foundation of most modern fields of geometry, including algebraic, differential, discrete and computational geometry.

Usually the Cartesian coordinate system is applied to manipulate equations for planes, straight lines, and circles, often in two and sometimes three dimensions. Geometrically, one studies the Euclidean plane (two dimensions) and Euclidean space. As taught in school books, analytic geometry can be explained more simply: it is concerned with defining and representing geometric shapes in a numerical way and extracting numerical information from shapes' numerical definitions and representations. That the algebra of the real numbers can be employed to yield results about the linear continuum of geometry relies on the Cantor–Dedekind axiom.

Discourse on the Method for Rightly Directing One's Reason and Searching for Truth in the Sciences
Illustration of a Cartesian coordinate plane. Four points are marked and labeled with their coordinates: (2,3) in green, (−3,1) in red, (−1.5,−2.5) in blue, and the origin (0,0) in purple.

In a manner analogous to the way lines in a two-dimensional space are described using a point-slope form for their equations, planes in a three dimensional space have a natural description using a point in the plane and a vector orthogonal to it (the normal vector) to indicate its "inclination".

The distance formula on the plane follows from the Pythagorean theorem.

In three dimensions, distance is given by the generalization of the Pythagorean theorem:

Transformations are applied to a parent function to turn it into a new function with similar characteristics.

There are other standard transformation not typically studied in elementary analytic geometry because the transformations change the shape of objects in ways not usually considered. Skewing is an example of a transformation not usually considered. For more information, consult the Wikipedia article on affine transformations.

Transformations can be applied to any geometric equation whether or not the equation represents a function. Transformations can be considered as individual transactions or in combinations.

Traditional methods for finding intersections include substitution and elimination.

As it passes through the point where the tangent line and the curve meet, called the point of tangency, the tangent line is "going in the same direction" as the curve, and is thus the best straight-line approximation to the curve at that point.