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  • Identify the equation of a parabola in standard form with given focus and directrix.
  • Identify the equation of an ellipse in standard form with given foci.
  • Identify the equation of a hyperbola in standard form with given foci.
  • Recognize a parabola, ellipse, or hyperbola from its eccentricity value.
  • Write the polar equation of a conic section with eccentricity e .
  • Identify when a general equation of degree two is a parabola, ellipse, or hyperbola.

Conic sections have been studied since the time of the ancient Greeks, and were considered to be an important mathematical concept. As early as 320 BCE, such Greek mathematicians as Menaechmus, Appollonius, and Archimedes were fascinated by these curves. Appollonius wrote an entire eight-volume treatise on conic sections in which he was, for example, able to derive a specific method for identifying a conic section through the use of geometry. Since then, important applications of conic sections have arisen (for example, in astronomy), and the properties of conic sections are used in radio telescopes, satellite dish receivers, and even architecture. In this section we discuss the three basic conic sections, some of their properties, and their equations.

Conic sections get their name because they can be generated by intersecting a plane with a cone. A cone has two identically shaped parts called nappes . One nappe is what most people mean by “cone,” having the shape of a party hat. A right circular cone can be generated by revolving a line passing through the origin around the y -axis as shown.

The line y = 3x is drawn and then rotated around the y axis to create two nappes, that is, a cone that is both above and below the x axis.
A cone generated by revolving the line y = 3 x around the y -axis.

Conic sections are generated by the intersection of a plane with a cone ( [link] ). If the plane is parallel to the axis of revolution (the y -axis), then the conic section    is a hyperbola. If the plane is parallel to the generating line, the conic section is a parabola. If the plane is perpendicular to the axis of revolution, the conic section is a circle. If the plane intersects one nappe at an angle to the axis (other than 90 ° ) , then the conic section is an ellipse.

This figure has three figures. The first figure shows a plain cone with two nappes. The second figure shows a cone with a plane through one nappes and the circle at the top, which creates a parabola. There is also a circle, which occurs when a plane intersects one of the nappes while parallel to the circular bases. There is also an ellipse, which occurs when a plane insects one of the nappes while not parallel to one of the circular bases. Note that the circle and the ellipse are bounded by the edges of the cone on all sides. The last figure shows a hyperbola, which is obtained when a plane intersects both nappes.
The four conic sections. Each conic is determined by the angle the plane makes with the axis of the cone.


A parabola is generated when a plane intersects a cone parallel to the generating line. In this case, the plane intersects only one of the nappes. A parabola can also be defined in terms of distances.


A parabola is the set of all points whose distance from a fixed point, called the focus    , is equal to the distance from a fixed line, called the directrix    . The point halfway between the focus and the directrix is called the vertex    of the parabola.

A graph of a typical parabola appears in [link] . Using this diagram in conjunction with the distance formula, we can derive an equation for a parabola. Recall the distance formula: Given point P with coordinates ( x 1 , y 1 ) and point Q with coordinates ( x 2 , y 2 ) , the distance between them is given by the formula

d ( P , Q ) = ( x 2 x 1 ) 2 + ( y 2 y 1 ) 2 .

Then from the definition of a parabola and [link] , we get

Questions & Answers

where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Leaves accumulate on the forest floor at a rate of 2 g/cm2/yr and also decompose at a rate of 90% per year. Write a differential equation governing the number of grams of leaf litter per square centimeter of forest floor, assuming at time 0 there is no leaf litter on the ground. Does this amount approach a steady value? What is that value?
Abdul Reply
You have a cup of coffee at temperature 70°C, which you let cool 10 minutes before you pour in the same amount of milk at 1°C as in the preceding problem. How does the temperature compare to the previous cup after 10 minutes?

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Source:  OpenStax, Calculus volume 2. OpenStax CNX. Feb 05, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11965/1.2
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