circle of curvature

Let a given plane curveMathworldPlanetmath γ have a definite curvaturePlanetmathPlanetmath ( κ in a point P of γ.  The circle of curvatureMathworldPlanetmath of γ in the point P is the circle which has the radius 1|κ| and which has with the curve the common tangent in P and which in a neighbourhood of P is on the same side as the curve.

The radius ϱ of the circle of curvature is the radius of curvature of γ in P.  The center of the circle of curvature is the center of curvature of γ in P.

When the curve γ is given in the parametric form


the coordinates of the center of curvature belonging to the point  (x,y)  of the curve are


Example.  Since the curvature of the parabolaMathworldPlanetmathPlanetmathy=x2  in the origin is  -2,  the corresponding radius of curvature is 12 and the center of curvature  (0,12).

Furthermore, it is possible to define the circle of curvature without first knowing about curvature of the curve. (In fact, using this definition, one could reverse the procedure and define curvature as the radius of the circle of curvature.) We may define the circle of curvature a point P of γ as the unique circle passing through P which makes a second-order contact with γ at P.

Title circle of curvature
Canonical name CircleOfCurvature
Date of creation 2013-03-22 16:59:46
Last modified on 2013-03-22 16:59:46
Owner rspuzio (6075)
Last modified by rspuzio (6075)
Numerical id 13
Author rspuzio (6075)
Entry type Definition
Classification msc 53A04
Synonym osculating circle
Related topic CurvatureOfaCircle
Related topic OsculatingCurve
Defines radius of curvature
Defines center of curvature
Defines centre of curvature