Three-dimensional space

Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a geometric setting in which three values (called parameters) are required to determine the position of an element (i.e., point). This is the informal meaning of the term dimension.

In physics and mathematics, a sequence of n numbers can be understood as a location in n-dimensional space. When n = 3, the set of all such locations is called three-dimensional Euclidean space. It is commonly represented by the symbol 3. This serves as a three-parameter model of the physical universe (that is, the spatial part, without considering time) in which all known matter exists. However, this space is only one example of a large variety of spaces in three dimensions called 3-manifolds. In this classical example, when the three values refer to measurements in different directions (coordinates), any three directions can be chosen, provided that vectors in these directions do not all lie in the same 2-space (plane). Furthermore, in this case, these three values can be labeled by any combination of three chosen from the terms width, height, depth, and length.

Coord planes color
A representation of a three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system with the x-axis pointing towards the observer.

In euclidean geometry

Coordinate systems

In mathematics, analytic geometry (also called Cartesian geometry) describes every point in three-dimensional space by means of three coordinates. Three coordinate axes are given, each perpendicular to the other two at the origin, the point at which they cross. They are usually labeled x, y, and z. Relative to these axes, the position of any point in three-dimensional space is given by an ordered triple of real numbers, each number giving the distance of that point from the origin measured along the given axis, which is equal to the distance of that point from the plane determined by the other two axes.[1]

Other popular methods of describing the location of a point in three-dimensional space include cylindrical coordinates and spherical coordinates, though there are an infinite number of possible methods. See Euclidean space.

Below are images of the above-mentioned systems.

Lines and planes

Two distinct points always determine a (straight) line. Three distinct points are either collinear or determine a unique plane. Four distinct points can either be collinear, coplanar or determine the entire space.

Two distinct lines can either intersect, be parallel or be skew. Two parallel lines, or two intersecting lines, lie in a unique plane, so skew lines are lines that do not meet and do not lie in a common plane.

Two distinct planes can either meet in a common line or are parallel (do not meet). Three distinct planes, no pair of which are parallel, can either meet in a common line, meet in a unique common point or have no point in common. In the last case, the three lines of intersection of each pair of planes are mutually parallel.

A line can lie in a given plane, intersect that plane in a unique point or be parallel to the plane. In the last case, there will be lines in the plane that are parallel to the given line.

A hyperplane is a subspace of one dimension less than the dimension of the full space. The hyperplanes of a three-dimensional space are the two-dimensional subspaces, that is, the planes. In terms of cartesian coordinates, the points of a hyperplane satisfy a single linear equation, so planes in this 3-space are described by linear equations. A line can be described by a pair of independent linear equations, each representing a plane having this line as a common intersection.

Varignon's theorem states that the midpoints of any quadrilateral in ℝ3 form a parallelogram, and so, are coplanar.

Spheres and balls

Sphere wireframe 10deg 6r
A perspective projection of a sphere onto two dimensions

A sphere in 3-space (also called a 2-sphere because it is a 2-dimensional object) consists of the set of all points in 3-space at a fixed distance r from a central point P. The solid enclosed by the sphere is called a ball (or, more precisely a 3-ball). The volume of the ball is given by


Another type of sphere arises from a 4-ball, whose three-dimensional surface is the 3-sphere: points equidistant to the origin of the euclidean space 4. If a point has coordinates, P(x, y, z, w), then x2 + y2 + z2 + w2 = 1 characterizes those points on the unit 3-sphere centered at the origin.


In three dimensions, there are nine regular polytopes: the five convex Platonic solids and the four nonconvex Kepler-Poinsot polyhedra.

Regular polytopes in three dimensions
Class Platonic solids Kepler-Poinsot polyhedra
Symmetry Td Oh Ih
Coxeter group A3, [3,3] B3, [4,3] H3, [5,3]
Order 24 48 120

Surfaces of revolution

A surface generated by revolving a plane curve about a fixed line in its plane as an axis is called a surface of revolution. The plane curve is called the generatrix of the surface. A section of the surface, made by intersecting the surface with a plane that is perpendicular (orthogonal) to the axis, is a circle.

Simple examples occur when the generatrix is a line. If the generatrix line intersects the axis line, the surface of revolution is a right circular cone with vertex (apex) the point of intersection. However, if the generatrix and axis are parallel, the surface of revolution is a circular cylinder.

Quadric surfaces

In analogy with the conic sections, the set of points whose cartesian coordinates satisfy the general equation of the second degree, namely,

where A, B, C, F, G, H, J, K, L and M are real numbers and not all of A, B, C, F, G and H are zero is called a quadric surface.[2]

There are six types of non-degenerate quadric surfaces:

  1. Ellipsoid
  2. Hyperboloid of one sheet
  3. Hyperboloid of two sheets
  4. Elliptic cone
  5. Elliptic paraboloid
  6. Hyperbolic paraboloid

The degenerate quadric surfaces are the empty set, a single point, a single line, a single plane, a pair of planes or a quadratic cylinder (a surface consisting of a non-degenerate conic section in a plane π and all the lines of 3 through that conic that are normal to π).[2] Elliptic cones are sometimes considered to be degenerate quadric surfaces as well.

Both the hyperboloid of one sheet and the hyperbolic paraboloid are ruled surfaces, meaning that they can be made up from a family of straight lines. In fact, each has two families of generating lines, the members of each family are disjoint and each member one family intersects, with just one exception, every member of the other family.[3] Each family is called a regulus.

In linear algebra

Another way of viewing three-dimensional space is found in linear algebra, where the idea of independence is crucial. Space has three dimensions because the length of a box is independent of its width or breadth. In the technical language of linear algebra, space is three-dimensional because every point in space can be described by a linear combination of three independent vectors.

Dot product, angle, and length

A vector can be pictured as an arrow. The vector's magnitude is its length, and its direction is the direction the arrow points. A vector in 3 can be represented by an ordered triple of real numbers. These numbers are called the components of the vector.

The dot product of two vectors A = [A1, A2, A3] and B = [B1, B2, B3] is defined as:[4]

The magnitude of a vector A is denoted by ||A||. The dot product of a vector A = [A1, A2, A3] with itself is

which gives

the formula for the Euclidean length of the vector.

Without reference to the components of the vectors, the dot product of two non-zero Euclidean vectors A and B is given by[5]

where θ is the angle between A and B.

Cross product

The cross product or vector product is a binary operation on two vectors in three-dimensional space and is denoted by the symbol ×. The cross product a × b of the vectors a and b is a vector that is perpendicular to both and therefore normal to the plane containing them. It has many applications in mathematics, physics, and engineering.

The space and product form an algebra over a field, which is neither commutative nor associative, but is a Lie algebra with the cross product being the Lie bracket.

One can in n dimensions take the product of n − 1 vectors to produce a vector perpendicular to all of them. But if the product is limited to non-trivial binary products with vector results, it exists only in three and seven dimensions.[6]

Cross product vector
The cross-product in respect to a right-handed coordinate system

In calculus

Gradient, divergence and curl

In a rectangular coordinate system, the gradient is given by

The divergence of a continuously differentiable vector field F = U i + V j + W k is equal to the scalar-valued function:

Expanded in Cartesian coordinates (see Del in cylindrical and spherical coordinates for spherical and cylindrical coordinate representations), the curl ∇ × F is, for F composed of [Fx, Fy, Fz]:

where i, j, and k are the unit vectors for the x-, y-, and z-axes, respectively. This expands as follows:[7]

Line integrals, surface integrals, and volume integrals

For some scalar field f : URnR, the line integral along a piecewise smooth curve CU is defined as

where r: [a, b] → C is an arbitrary bijective parametrization of the curve C such that r(a) and r(b) give the endpoints of C and .

For a vector field F : URnRn, the line integral along a piecewise smooth curve CU, in the direction of r, is defined as

where · is the dot product and r: [a, b] → C is a bijective parametrization of the curve C such that r(a) and r(b) give the endpoints of C.

A surface integral is a generalization of multiple integrals to integration over surfaces. It can be thought of as the double integral analog of the line integral. To find an explicit formula for the surface integral, we need to parameterize the surface of interest, S, by considering a system of curvilinear coordinates on S, like the latitude and longitude on a sphere. Let such a parameterization be x(s, t), where (s, t) varies in some region T in the plane. Then, the surface integral is given by

where the expression between bars on the right-hand side is the magnitude of the cross product of the partial derivatives of x(s, t), and is known as the surface element. Given a vector field v on S, that is a function that assigns to each x in S a vector v(x), the surface integral can be defined component-wise according to the definition of the surface integral of a scalar field; the result is a vector.

A volume integral refers to an integral over a 3-dimensional domain.

It can also mean a triple integral within a region D in R3 of a function and is usually written as:

Fundamental theorem of line integrals

The fundamental theorem of line integrals, says that a line integral through a gradient field can be evaluated by evaluating the original scalar field at the endpoints of the curve.

Let . Then

Stokes' theorem

Stokes' theorem relates the surface integral of the curl of a vector field F over a surface Σ in Euclidean three-space to the line integral of the vector field over its boundary ∂Σ:

Divergence theorem

Suppose V is a subset of (in the case of n = 3, V represents a volume in 3D space) which is compact and has a piecewise smooth boundary S (also indicated with V = S). If F is a continuously differentiable vector field defined on a neighborhood of V, then the divergence theorem says:[8]


The left side is a volume integral over the volume V, the right side is the surface integral over the boundary of the volume V. The closed manifold V is quite generally the boundary of V oriented by outward-pointing normals, and n is the outward pointing unit normal field of the boundary V. (dS may be used as a shorthand for ndS.)

In topology

Three-dimensional space has a number of topological properties that distinguish it from spaces of other dimension numbers. For example, at least three dimensions are required to tie a knot in a piece of string.[9]

With the space , the topologists locally model all other 3-manifolds.

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See also


  1. ^ Hughes-Hallett, Deborah; McCallum, William G.; Gleason, Andrew M. (2013). Calculus : Single and Multivariable (6 ed.). John wiley. ISBN 978-0470-88861-2.
  2. ^ a b Brannan, Esplen & Gray 1999, pp. 34–5
  3. ^ Brannan, Esplen & Gray 1999, pp. 41–2
  4. ^ Anton 1994, p. 133
  5. ^ Anton 1994, p. 131
  6. ^ WS Massey (1983). "Cross products of vectors in higher dimensional Euclidean spaces". The American Mathematical Monthly. 90 (10): 697–701. doi:10.2307/2323537. JSTOR 2323537. If one requires only three basic properties of the cross product ... it turns out that a cross product of vectors exists only in 3-dimensional and 7-dimensional Euclidean space.
  7. ^ Arfken, p. 43.
  8. ^ M. R. Spiegel; S. Lipschutz; D. Spellman (2009). Vector Analysis. Schaum’s Outlines (2nd ed.). USA: McGraw Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-161545-7.
  9. ^ Rolfsen, Dale (1976). Knots and Links. Berkeley, California: Publish or Perish. ISBN 0-914098-16-0.


  • Anton, Howard (1994), Elementary Linear Algebra (7th ed.), John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-471-58742-2
  • Arfken, George B. and Hans J. Weber. Mathematical Methods For Physicists, Academic Press; 6 edition (June 21, 2005). ISBN 978-0-12-059876-2.
  • Brannan, David A.; Esplen, Matthew F.; Gray, Jeremy J. (1999), Geometry, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-59787-6

External links

Bravais lattice

In geometry and crystallography, a Bravais lattice, named after Auguste Bravais (1850), is an infinite array of discrete points generated by a set of discrete translation operations described in three dimensional space by:

where ni are any integers and ai are primitive vectors which lie in different directions (not necessarily mutually perpendicular) and span the lattice. This discrete set of vectors must be closed under vector addition and subtraction. For any choice of position vector R, the lattice looks exactly the same.

When the discrete points are atoms, ions, or polymer strings of solid matter, the Bravais lattice concept is used to formally define a crystalline arrangement and its (finite) frontiers. A crystal is made up of a periodic arrangement of one or more atoms (the basis, or motif) repeated at each lattice point. Consequently, the crystal looks the same when viewed from any equivalent lattice point, namely those separated by the translation of one unit cell.

Two Bravais lattices are often considered equivalent if they have isomorphic symmetry groups. In this sense, there are 14 possible Bravais lattices in three-dimensional space. The 14 possible symmetry groups of Bravais lattices are 14 of the 230 space groups.

Cooliris (plugin)

Cooliris (for Desktop), formerly known as PicLens, was a web browser extension developed by Cooliris, Inc, and later acquired by Yahoo. The plugin provides an interactive 3D-like experience for viewing digital images and videos from the web and from desktop applications. The software places a small icon atop image thumbnails that appear on a webpage. Clicking on the icon loads the Cooliris 3D Wall, a browsing environment that gives the user the effect of flying through a three-dimensional space.Released to the public in January 2008, The New York Times described Cooliris as the "new immersive approach to Web navigation". Cooliris went out to win the 2008 Crunchies Award for Best Design. The plugin has received over 50 million downloads.As of May 2014 browser plugins are unavailable from the official website. There are only links to tablet apps - for iOS and Android.


In geometry, a set of points in space are coplanar if there exists a geometric plane that contains them all. For example, three points are always coplanar, and if the points are distinct and non-collinear, the plane they determine is unique. However, a set of four or more distinct points will, in general, not lie in a single plane.

Two lines in three-dimensional space are coplanar if there is a plane that includes them both. This occurs if the lines are parallel, or if they intersect each other. Two lines that are not coplanar are called skew lines.

Distance geometry provides a solution technique for the problem of determining whether a set of points is coplanar, knowing only the distances between them.

Cross section (geometry)

In geometry and science, a cross section is the non-empty intersection of a solid body in three-dimensional space with a plane, or the analog in higher-dimensional spaces. Cutting an object into slices creates many parallel cross sections. The boundary of a cross section in three-dimensional space that is parallel to two of the axes, that is, parallel to the plane determined by these axes, is a sometimes referred to as a contour line; for example, if a plane cuts through mountains of a raised-relief map parallel to the ground, the result is a contour line in two-dimensional space showing points on the surface of the mountains of equal elevation.

In technical drawing a cross-section, being a projection of an object onto a plane that intersects it, is a common tool used to depict the internal arrangement of a 3-dimensional object in two dimensions. It is traditionally crosshatched with the style of crosshatching often indicating the types of materials being used.

With computed axial tomography, computers construct cross-sections from x-ray data.

Flat (geometry)

In geometry, a flat is a subset of a Euclidean space that is congruent to a Euclidean space of lower dimension. The flats in two-dimensional space are points and lines, and the flats in three-dimensional space are points, lines, and planes.

In a n-dimensional space, there are flats of every dimension from 0 to n − 1. Flats of dimension n − 1 are called hyperplanes.

Flats are the affine subspaces of Euclidean spaces, which means that they are similar to linear subspaces, except that they need not pass through the origin. Flats occurs in linear algebra, as geometric realizations of solution sets of systems of linear equations.

A flat is manifold and an algebraic variety, and is sometimes called linear manifold or linear variety for distinguishing it from other manifolds or varieties.

Four-dimensional space

A four-dimensional space or 4D space is a mathematical extension of the concept of three-dimensional or 3D space. Three-dimensional space is the simplest possible generalization of the observation that one only needs three numbers, called dimensions, to describe the sizes or locations of objects in the everyday world. For example, the volume of a rectangular box is found by measuring its length, width, and height (often labeled x, y, and z).

The idea of adding a fourth dimension began with Joseph-Louis Lagrange in the mid-1700s and culminated in a precise formalization of the concept in 1854 by Bernhard Riemann. In 1880 Charles Howard Hinton popularized these insights in an essay titled "What is the Fourth Dimension?", which explained the concept of a four-dimensional cube with a step-by-step generalization of the properties of lines, squares, and cubes. The simplest form of Hinton's method is to draw two ordinary cubes separated by an "unseen" distance, and then draw lines between their equivalent vertices. This can be seen in the accompanying animation, whenever it shows a smaller inner cube inside a larger outer cube. The eight lines connecting the vertices of the two cubes in that case represent a single direction in the "unseen" fourth dimension.

Higher dimensional spaces have since become one of the foundations for formally expressing modern mathematics and physics. Large parts of these topics could not exist in their current forms without the use of such spaces. Einstein's concept of spacetime uses such a 4D space, though it has a Minkowski structure that is a bit more complicated than Euclidean 4D space.

Single locations in 4D space can be given as vectors or n-tuples, i.e. as ordered lists of numbers such as (t,x,y,z). It is only when such locations are linked together into more complicated shapes that the full richness and geometric complexity of 4D and higher dimensional spaces emerge. A hint to that complexity can be seen in the accompanying animation of one of simplest possible 4D objects, the 4D cube or tesseract.


A helix (), plural helixes or helices (), is a type of smooth space curve, i.e. a curve in three-dimensional space. It has the property that the tangent line at any point makes a constant angle with a fixed line called the axis. Examples of helices are coil springs and the handrails of spiral staircases. A "filled-in" helix – for example, a "spiral" (helical) ramp – is called a helicoid. Helices are important in biology, as the DNA molecule is formed as two intertwined helices, and many proteins have helical substructures, known as alpha helices. The word helix comes from the Greek word ἕλιξ, "twisted, curved".


In geometry of higher dimensions, a hypersphere is the set of points at a constant distance from a given point called its centre. It is a manifold of codimension one—that is, with one dimension less than that of the ambient space.

As the hypersphere's radius increases, its curvature decreases. In the limit, a hypersphere approaches the zero curvature of a hyperplane. Hyperplanes and hyperspheres are examples of hypersurfaces.

The term hypersphere was introduced by Duncan Sommerville in his discussion of models for non-Euclidean geometry. The first one mentioned is a 3-sphere in four dimensions.

Some spheres are not hyperspheres: If S is a sphere in Em where m < n, and the space has n dimensions, then S is not a hypersphere. Similarly, any n-sphere in a proper flat is not a hypersphere. For example, a circle is not a hypersphere in three-dimensional space, but it is a hypersphere in the plane.

Knot complement

In mathematics, the knot complement of a tame knot K is the three-dimensional space surrounding the knot. To make this precise, suppose that K is a knot in a three-manifold M (most often, M is the 3-sphere). Let N be a tubular neighborhood of K; so N is a solid torus. The knot complement is then the complement of N,

The knot complement XK is a compact 3-manifold; the boundary of XK and the boundary of the neighborhood N are homeomorphic to a two-torus. Sometimes the ambient manifold M is understood to be 3-sphere. Context is needed to determine the usage. There are analogous definitions of link complement.

Many knot invariants, such as the knot group, are really invariants of the complement of the knot. When the ambient space is the three-sphere no information is lost: the Gordon–Luecke theorem states that a knot is determined by its complement. That is, if K and K′ are two knots with homeomorphic complements then there is a homeomorphism of the three-sphere taking one knot to the other.

Lambert azimuthal equal-area projection

The Lambert azimuthal equal-area projection is a particular mapping from a sphere to a disk (that is, a region bounded by a circle). It accurately represents area in all regions of the sphere, but it does not accurately represent angles. It is named for the Swiss mathematician Johann Heinrich Lambert, who announced it in 1772. "Zenithal" being synonymous with "azimuthal", the projection is also known as the Lambert zenithal equal-area projection.The Lambert azimuthal projection is used as a map projection in cartography. For example, the National Atlas of the US uses a Lambert azimuthal equal-area projection to display information in the online Map Maker application, and the European Environment Agency recommends its usage for European mapping for statistical analysis and display. It is also used in scientific disciplines such as geology for plotting the orientations of lines in three-dimensional space. This plotting is aided by a special kind of graph paper called a Schmidt net.

Parallel (geometry)

In geometry, parallel lines are lines in a plane which do not meet; that is, two lines in a plane that do not intersect or touch each other at any point are said to be parallel. By extension, a line and a plane, or two planes, in three-dimensional Euclidean space that do not share a point are said to be parallel. However, two lines in three-dimensional space which do not meet must be in a common plane to be considered parallel; otherwise they are called skew lines. Parallel planes are planes in the same three-dimensional space that never meet.

Parallel lines are the subject of Euclid's parallel postulate. Parallelism is primarily a property of affine geometries and Euclidean geometry is a special instance of this type of geometry.

In some other geometries, such as hyperbolic geometry, lines can have analogous properties that are referred to as parallelism.

Plane (geometry)

In mathematics, a plane is a flat, two-dimensional surface that extends infinitely far. A plane is the two-dimensional analogue of a point (zero dimensions), a line (one dimension) and three-dimensional space. Planes can arise as subspaces of some higher-dimensional space, as with a room's walls extended infinitely far, or they may enjoy an independent existence in their own right, as in the setting of Euclidean geometry.

When working exclusively in two-dimensional Euclidean space, the definite article is used, so, the plane refers to the whole space. Many fundamental tasks in mathematics, geometry, trigonometry, graph theory, and graphing are performed in a two-dimensional space, or, in other words, in the plane.

Six degrees of freedom

Six degrees of freedom (6DoF) refers to the freedom of movement of a rigid body in three-dimensional space. Specifically, the body is free to change position as forward/backward (surge), up/down (heave), left/right (sway) translation in three perpendicular axes, combined with changes in orientation through rotation about three perpendicular axes, often termed yaw (normal axis), pitch (transverse axis), and roll (longitudinal axis).

Socolar–Taylor tile

The Socolar–Taylor tile is a single tile which is aperiodic on the Euclidean plane, meaning that it admits only non-periodic tilings of the plane (due to the Sierpinski's triangle-like tiling that occurs), with rotations and reflections of the tile allowed. It is the first known example of a single aperiodic tile, or "einstein". The basic version of the tile is a simple hexagon, with printed designs to enforce a local matching rule, regarding how the tiles may be placed. This rule cannot be geometrically implemented in two dimensions while keeping the tile a connected set.This is, however, possible in three dimensions, and in their original paper Socolar and Taylor suggest a three-dimensional analogue to the monotile. Taylor and Socolar remark that the 3D monotile aperiodically tiles three-dimensional space. However the tile does allow tilings with a period, shifting one (non-periodic) two dimensional layer to the next, and so the tile is only ″weakly aperiodic″.

Physical copies of the three-dimensional tile could not be fitted together without allowing reflections, which would require access to four-dimensional space.


Spatial may refer to:



Three-dimensional space


A sphere (from Greek σφαῖρα — sphaira, "globe, ball") is a perfectly round geometrical object in three-dimensional space that is the surface of a completely round ball (viz., analogous to the circular objects in two dimensions, where a "circle" circumscribes its "disk").

Like a circle in a two-dimensional space, a sphere is defined mathematically as the set of points that are all at the same distance r from a given point, but in a three-dimensional space. This distance r is the radius of the ball, which is made up from all points with a distance less than (or, for a closed ball, less than or equal to) r from the given point, which is the center of the mathematical ball. These are also referred to as the radius and center of the sphere, respectively. The longest straight line segment through the ball, connecting two points of the sphere, passes through the center and its length is thus twice the radius; it is a diameter of both the sphere and its ball.

While outside mathematics the terms "sphere" and "ball" are sometimes used interchangeably, in mathematics the above distinction is made between a sphere, which is a two-dimensional closed surface, embedded in a three-dimensional Euclidean space, and a ball, which is a three-dimensional shape that includes the sphere and everything inside the sphere (a closed ball), or, more often, just the points inside, but not on the sphere (an open ball). The distinction between ball and sphere has not always been maintained and especially older mathematical references talk about a sphere as a solid. This is analogous to the situation in the plane, where the terms "circle" and "disk" can also be confounded.


In geometry, the tesseract is the four-dimensional analogue of the cube; the tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square. Just as the surface of the cube consists of six square faces, the hypersurface of the tesseract consists of eight cubical cells. The tesseract is one of the six convex regular 4-polytopes.

The tesseract is also called an eight-cell, C8, (regular) octachoron, octahedroid, cubic prism, and tetracube. It is the four-dimensional hypercube, or 4-cube as a part of the dimensional family of hypercubes or "measure polytopes".According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word tesseract was coined and first used in 1888 by Charles Howard Hinton in his book A New Era of Thought, from the Greek τέσσερεις ακτίνες (téssereis aktines, "four rays"), referring to the four lines from each vertex to other vertices. In this publication, as well as some of Hinton's later work, the word was occasionally spelled "tessaract".

Vectors in three-dimensional space

Vectors in three-dimensional space (1978) is a book concerned with physical quantities defined in "ordinary" 3-space. It was written by J.S.R.Chisholm, an English mathematical physicist, and published by Cambridge University Press. According to the author, such physical quantities are studied in Newtonian mechanics, fluid mechanics, theories of elasticity and plasticity, non-relativistic quantum mechanics, and many parts of solid state physics. The author further states that "the vector concept developed in two different ways: in a wide variety of physical applications, vector notation and techniques became, by the middle of this century, almost universal; on the other hand, pure mathematicians reduced vector algebra to an axiomatic system, and introduced wide generalisations of the concept of a three-dimensional 'vector space'." Chisholm explains that since these two developments proceeded largely independently, there is a need to show how one can be applied to the other.


Volume is the quantity of three-dimensional space enclosed by a closed surface, for example, the space that a substance (solid, liquid, gas, or plasma) or shape occupies or contains. Volume is often quantified numerically using the SI derived unit, the cubic metre. The volume of a container is generally understood to be the capacity of the container; i. e., the amount of fluid (gas or liquid) that the container could hold, rather than the amount of space the container itself displaces.

Three dimensional mathematical shapes are also assigned volumes. Volumes of some simple shapes, such as regular, straight-edged, and circular shapes can be easily calculated using arithmetic formulas. Volumes of complicated shapes can be calculated with integral calculus if a formula exists for the shape's boundary. One-dimensional figures (such as lines) and two-dimensional shapes (such as squares) are assigned zero volume in the three-dimensional space.

The volume of a solid (whether regularly or irregularly shaped) can be determined by fluid displacement. Displacement of liquid can also be used to determine the volume of a gas. The combined volume of two substances is usually greater than the volume of just one of the substances. However, sometimes one substance dissolves in the other and in such cases the combined volume is not additive.In differential geometry, volume is expressed by means of the volume form, and is an important global Riemannian invariant.

In thermodynamics, volume is a fundamental parameter, and is a conjugate variable to pressure.

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