Algebraic curve

Curve defined as zeros of polynomials / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In mathematics, an affine algebraic plane curve is the zero set of a polynomial in two variables. A projective algebraic plane curve is the zero set in a projective plane of a homogeneous polynomial in three variables. An affine algebraic plane curve can be completed in a projective algebraic plane curve by homogenizing its defining polynomial. Conversely, a projective algebraic plane curve of homogeneous equation h(x, y, t) = 0 can be restricted to the affine algebraic plane curve of equation h(x, y, 1) = 0. These two operations are each inverse to the other; therefore, the phrase algebraic plane curve is often used without specifying explicitly whether it is the affine or the projective case that is considered.

The Tschirnhausen cubic is an algebraic curve of degree three.

More generally, an algebraic curve is an algebraic variety of dimension one. Equivalently, an algebraic curve is an algebraic variety that is birationally equivalent to an algebraic plane curve. If the curve is contained in an affine space or a projective space, one can take a projection for such a birational equivalence.

These birational equivalences reduce most of the study of algebraic curves to the study of algebraic plane curves. However, some properties are not kept under birational equivalence and must be studied on non-plane curves. This is, in particular, the case for the degree and smoothness. For example, there exist smooth curves of genus 0 and degree greater than two, but any plane projection of such curves has singular points (see Genus–degree formula).

A non-plane curve is often called a space curve or a skew curve.