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In mathematics, the affine hull or affine span of a set S in Euclidean space Rn is the smallest affine set containing S,[1] or equivalently, the intersection of all affine sets containing S. Here, an affine set may be defined as the translation of a vector subspace.

The affine hull aff(S) of S is the set of all affine combinations of elements of S, that is,

${\displaystyle \operatorname {aff} (S)=\left\{\sum _{i=1}^{k}\alpha _{i}x_{i}\,{\Bigg |}\,k>0,\,x_{i}\in S,\,\alpha _{i}\in \mathbb {R} ,\,\sum _{i=1}^{k}\alpha _{i}=1\right\}.}$

## Examples

• The affine hull of the empty set is the empty set.
• The affine hull of a singleton (a set made of one single element) is the singleton itself.
• The affine hull of a set of two different points is the line through them.
• The affine hull of a set of three points not on one line is the plane going through them.
• The affine hull of a set of four points not in a plane in R3 is the entire space R3.

## Properties

For any subsets ${\displaystyle S,T\subseteq X}$

• ${\displaystyle \operatorname {aff} (\operatorname {aff} S)=\operatorname {aff} S}$
• ${\displaystyle \operatorname {aff} S}$ is a closed set if ${\displaystyle X}$ is finite dimensional.
• ${\displaystyle \operatorname {aff} (S+T)=\operatorname {aff} S+\operatorname {aff} T}$
• If ${\displaystyle 0\in S}$ then ${\displaystyle \operatorname {aff} S=\operatorname {span} S}$.
• If ${\displaystyle s_{0}\in S}$ then ${\displaystyle \operatorname {aff} (S)-s_{0}=\operatorname {span} (S-s_{0})}$ is a linear subspace of ${\displaystyle X}$.
• ${\displaystyle \operatorname {aff} (S-S)=\operatorname {span} (S-S)}$.
• So in particular, ${\displaystyle \operatorname {aff} (S-S)}$ is always a vector subspace of ${\displaystyle X}$.
• If ${\displaystyle S}$ is convex then ${\displaystyle \operatorname {aff} (S-S)=\displaystyle \bigcup _{\lambda >0}\lambda (S-S)}$
• For every ${\displaystyle s_{0}\in S}$, ${\displaystyle \operatorname {aff} S=s_{0}+\operatorname {cone} (S-S)}$ where ${\displaystyle \operatorname {cone} (S-S)}$ is the smallest cone containing ${\displaystyle S-S}$ (here, a set ${\displaystyle C\subseteq X}$ is a cone if ${\displaystyle rc\in C}$ for all ${\displaystyle c\in C}$ and all non-negative ${\displaystyle r\geq 0}$).
• Hence ${\displaystyle \operatorname {cone} (S-S)}$ is always a linear subspace of ${\displaystyle X}$ parallel to ${\displaystyle \operatorname {aff} S}$.

## Related sets

• If instead of an affine combination one uses a convex combination, that is one requires in the formula above that all ${\displaystyle \alpha _{i))$ be non-negative, one obtains the convex hull of S, which cannot be larger than the affine hull of S as more restrictions are involved.
• The notion of conical combination gives rise to the notion of the conical hull
• If however one puts no restrictions at all on the numbers ${\displaystyle \alpha _{i))$, instead of an affine combination one has a linear combination, and the resulting set is the linear span of S, which contains the affine hull of S.

## References

1. ^ Roman 2008, p. 430 §16

## Sources

• R.J. Webster, Convexity, Oxford University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-19-853147-8.
• Roman, Stephen (2008), Advanced Linear Algebra, Graduate Texts in Mathematics (Third ed.), Springer, ISBN 978-0-387-72828-5