Labware - MA35 Multivariable Calculus - Two Variable Calculus



Parametric Curves and Surfaces (Page: 1 | 2 | 3 )



Up to this point we have described curves in the plane by expressing y as a function of x. Parametrization introduces a new approach to the study of curves: we express y and x as functions of some variable t which is not actually one of the coordinates of the points in the curve.

Along with these functions, one must also give a set of constraints on t.

Parametrization is convenient for several reasons:

1. It can describe some curves that are not function graphs.

2. It simplifies integrals that are difficult for our old method of describing curves.

3. It introduces us to integrals we have not yet seen, such as path and line integrals (discussed in later labs).

Parametrized curves are not constrained to two-space. In fact, we will devote much of our time to investigating parametric curves in three space, which require three functions: x(t), y(t), and z(t).



  • Parametrize the following curves:
    • A line segment with endpoints (0, 0), (1, 0)
    • A line segment with endpoints (2, 4, 7), (9, 8, 5)
    • A circle of radius 1 centered on the origin in the x-y plane.
    • A helix that starts at (1, 0, 0), ends at (1, 0, 10), has 10 loops, and contains points all of which are distance 1 from the z-axis.
  • In the second demo, add a new window containing a 2D graph that shows y as a function of x (do this by adding a curve whose parametrization is x(t), y(t) ). In the 3D graph window, select “Up z-axis” on the View menu. Try changing x(t), y(t), and z(t). How can you relate the 3D graph to the 2D graph you added? Why does this relationship exist?