All types of conic sections, arranged with increasing eccentricity. Note that curvature decreases with eccentricity, and that none of these curves intersect.
In mathematics, the eccentricity, denoted e or \varepsilon, is a parameter associated with every conic section. It can be thought of as a measure of how much the conic section deviates from being circular.
In particular,

The eccentricity of a circle is zero.

The eccentricity of an ellipse which is not a circle is greater than zero but less than 1.

The eccentricity of a parabola is 1.

The eccentricity of a hyperbola is greater than 1.
Furthermore, two conic sections are similar (identically shaped) if and only if they have the same eccentricity.
Contents

Definitions 1

Alternative names 2

Notation 3

Values 4

Ellipses 5

Other formulas for the eccentricity of an ellipse 5.1

Hyperbolas 6

Quadrics 7

Celestial mechanics 8

Analogous classifications 9

See also 10

References 11

External links 12
Definitions
plane section of a cone
Any conic section can be defined as the locus of points whose distances to a point (the focus) and a line (the directrix) are in a constant ratio. That ratio is called eccentricity, commonly denoted as e.
The eccentricity can also be defined in terms of the intersection of a plane and a doublenapped cone associated with the conic section. If the cone is oriented with its axis vertical, the eccentricity is

e = \frac{\sin \beta}{\sin \alpha}, \ \ 0<\alpha<90^\circ, \ 0\le\beta\le90^\circ \ ,
where β is the angle between the plane and the horizontal and α is the angle between the cone's slant generator and the horizontal. For \beta=0 the plane section is a circle, for \beta=\alpha a parabola. (The plane must not meet the vertex of the cone.)
The linear eccentricity of an ellipse or hyperbola , denoted c (or sometimes f or e), is the distance between its center and either of its two foci. The eccentricity can be defined as the ratio of the linear eccentricity to the semimajor axis a: that is, e = \frac{c}{a} . (Lacking a center the linear eccentricity for parabolas is not defined.)
Alternative names
The eccentricity is sometimes called first eccentricity to distinguish it from the second eccentricity and third eccentricity defined for ellipses (see below). The eccentricity is also sometimes called numerical eccentricity.
In the case of ellipses and hyperbolas the linear eccentricity is sometimes called halffocal separation.
Notation
Three notational conventions are in common use:

e for the eccentricity and c for the linear eccentricity.

\varepsilon for the eccentricity and e for the linear eccentricity.

e or \epsilon for the eccentricity and f for the linear eccentricity (mnemonic for halffocal separation).
This article makes use of the first notation.
Values
conic section

equation

eccentricity (e)

linear eccentricity (c)

Circle

x^2+y^2=r^2

0

0

Ellipse

\frac{x^2}{a^2}+\frac{y^2}{b^2}=1

\sqrt{1\frac{b^2}{a^2}}

\sqrt{a^2b^2}

Parabola

x^2=4ay

1



Hyperbola

\frac{x^2}{a^2}\frac{y^2}{b^2}=1

\sqrt{1+\frac{b^2}{a^2}}

\sqrt{a^2+b^2}

where, for the ellipse and the hyperbola, a is the length of the semimajor axis and b is the length of the semiminor axis.
When the conic section is given in the general quadratic form

Ax^2 + Bxy + Cy^2 +Dx + Ey + F = 0,
the following formula gives the eccentricity e if the conic section is not a parabola (which has eccentricity equal to 1), not a degenerate hyperbola or degenerate ellipse, and not an imaginary ellipse:^{[1]}

e=\sqrt{\frac{2\sqrt{(AC)^2 + B^2}}{\eta (A+C) + \sqrt{(AC)^2 + B^2}}}
where \eta = 1 if the determinant of the 3×3 matrix

\begin{bmatrix}A & B/2 & D/2\\B/2 & C & E/2\\D/2&E/2&F\end{bmatrix}
is negative or \eta = 1 if that determinant is positive.
Ellipse and hyperbola with constant a and changing eccentricity e.
Ellipses
The eccentricity of an ellipse is strictly less than 1. When circles (which have eccentricity 0) are counted as ellipses, the eccentricity of an ellipse is greater than or equal to 0; if circles are given a special category and are excluded from the category of ellipses, then the eccentricity of an ellipse is strictly greater than 0.
For any ellipse, let a be the length of its semimajor axis and b be the length of its semiminor axis.
We define a number of related additional concepts (only for ellipses):
name

symbol

in terms of a and b

in terms of e

first eccentricity

e

\sqrt{1\frac{b^2}{a^2}}

e

second eccentricity

e'

\sqrt{\frac{a^2}{b^2}1}

\frac{e}{\sqrt{1e^2}}

third eccentricity

e''=\sqrt m

\frac{\sqrt{a^2b^2}}{\sqrt{a^2+b^2}}

\frac{e}{\sqrt{2e^2}}

angular eccentricity

\alpha

\cos^{1}\left(\frac{b}{a}\right)

\sin^{1} e

Other formulas for the eccentricity of an ellipse
The eccentricity of an ellipse is, most simply, the ratio of the distance between the center of the ellipse and each focus to the length of the semimajor axis.
The eccentricity is also the ratio of the semimajor axis a to the distance d from the center to the directrix:

e = \frac{a}{d}.
The eccentricity can be expressed in terms of the flattening g (defined as g = 1 – b/a for semimajor axis a and semiminor axis b):

e = \sqrt{g(2g)}.
(Flattening is denoted by f in some subject areas, particularly geodesy.)
Define the maximum and minimum radii r_\text{max} and r_\text{min} as the maximum and minimum distances from either focus to the ellipse (that is, the distances from either focus to the two ends of the major axis). Then with semimajor axis a, the eccentricity is given by

e = \frac{r_\text{max}r_\text{min}}{r_\text{max}+r_\text{min}} = \frac{r_\text{max}r_\text{min}}{2a},
which is the distance between the foci divided by the length of the major axis.
Hyperbolas
The eccentricity of a hyperbola can be any real number greater than 1, with no upper bound. The eccentricity of a rectangular hyperbola is \sqrt{2}.
Quadrics
Ellipses, hyperbolas with all possible eccentricites from zero to infinity and a parabola on one cubic surface.
The eccentricity of a threedimensional quadric is the eccentricity of a designated section of it. For example, on a triaxial ellipsoid, the meridional eccentricity is that of the ellipse formed by a section containing both the longest and the shortest axes (one of which will be the polar axis), and the equatorial eccentricity is the eccentricity of the ellipse formed by a section through the centre, perpendicular to the polar axis (i.e. in the equatorial plane). But: conic sections may occur on surfaces of higher order, too (see image).
Celestial mechanics
In celestial mechanics, for bound orbits in a spherical potential, the definition above is informally generalized. When the apocenter distance is close to the pericenter distance, the orbit is said to have low eccentricity; when they are very different, the orbit is said be eccentric or having eccentricity near unity. This definition coincides with the mathematical definition of eccentricity for ellipses, in Keplerian, i.e., 1/r potentials.
Analogous classifications
A number of classifications in mathematics use derived terminology from the classification of conic sections by eccentricity:
See also
References

^ Ayoub, Ayoub B., "The eccentricity of a conic section", The College Mathematics Journal 34(2), March 2003, 116121.

^ "Classification of Linear PDEs in Two Independent Variables". Retrieved 2 July 2013.
External links






Shape/Size



Orientation



Position



Variation











This article was sourced from Creative Commons AttributionShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, EGovernment Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a nonprofit organization.