Normal Curvature at a Regular Point of a Surface

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Choose from four types of a regular point on a surface and see how the normal curvature changes as the normal plane rotates around the normal line at this point.

Contributed by: Desana Štambuk (University of Zagreb) (March 2011)
Suggested by: Sonja Gorjanc
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



Since the normal curvature of a surface at a regular point is a continuous function, it has both a maximum and a minimum on (according to the extreme value theorem). These extrema are the principal curvatures and of at and the Euler curvature formula is valid. If , defines the asymptotic direction at .

The Gaussian curvature of at is defined as .

A point on the surface is called:

- An elliptic point if (or the principal curvatures and have the same sign). There are no asymptotic directions.

- A hyperbolic point if (or the principal curvatures and have opposite signs). There are exactly two asymptotic directions, and the principal directions bisect the angle between them.

- A parabolic point if and exactly one of the principal curvatures vanishes.

- A planar point if and both and vanish—that is, every direction is asymptotic.

Based on work by S. Gorjanc: Gaussian and Mean Curvatures at the Regular Point of a Surface.


A. Gray, Modern Differential Geometry of Curves and Surfaces with Mathematica, 2nd ed., Boca Raton: CRC Press LLC, 1998.

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