 Plane equation in normal form

In Euclidean geometry, a plane is a flat two-dimensional surface that extends indefinitely. Planes often arise as subspaces of three-dimensional space, as with one of a room's walls, infinitely extended.

## Background

 Main article: Euclidean geometry

Euclid set forth the first great landmark of mathematical thought, an axiomatic treatment of geometry. He selected a small core of undefined terms (called common notions) and postulates (or axioms) which he then used to prove various geometrical statements. Although the plane in its modern sense is not directly given a definition anywhere in the Elements, it may be thought of as part of the common notions. Euclid never used numbers to measure length, angle, or area. The Euclidean plane equipped with a chosen Cartesian coordinate system is called a Cartesian plane; a non-Cartesian Euclidean plane equipped with a polar coordinate system would be called a polar plane. Three parallel planes.

A plane is a ruled surface.

## Representation

This section is solely concerned with planes embedded in three dimensions: specifically, in R3.

### Determination by contained points and lines

In a Euclidean space of any number of dimensions, a plane is uniquely determined by any of the following:

• Three non-collinear points (points not on a single line).
• A line and a point not on that line.
• Two distinct but intersecting lines.
• Two distinct but parallel lines.

### Properties

The following statements hold in three-dimensional Euclidean space but not in higher dimensions, though they have higher-dimensional analogues:

• Two distinct planes are either parallel or they intersect in a line.
• A line is either parallel to a plane, intersects it at a single point, or is contained in the plane.
• Two distinct lines perpendicular to the same plane must be parallel to each other.
• Two distinct planes perpendicular to the same line must be parallel to each other.

### Point–normal form and general form of the equation of a plane

In a manner analogous to the way lines in a two-dimensional space are described using a point-slope form for their equations, planes in a three dimensional space have a natural description using a point in the plane and a vector orthogonal to it (the normal vector) to indicate its "inclination".

Specifically, let r0 be the position vector of some point P0 = (x0, y0, z0), and let n = (a, b, c) be a nonzero vector. The plane determined by the point P0 and the vector n consists of those points P, with position vector r, such that the vector drawn from P0 to P is perpendicular to n. Recalling that two vectors are perpendicular if and only if their dot product is zero, it follows that the desired plane can be described as the set of all points r such that

${\boldsymbol {n))\cdot ({\boldsymbol {r))-{\boldsymbol {r))_{0})=0.$ The dot here means a dot (scalar) product.
Expanded this becomes
$a(x-x_{0})+b(y-y_{0})+c(z-z_{0})=0,$ which is the point–normal form of the equation of a plane. This is just a linear equation
$ax+by+cz+d=0,$ where
$d=-(ax_{0}+by_{0}+cz_{0}),$ which is the expanded form of $-{\boldsymbol {n))\cdot {\boldsymbol {r))_{0}.$ In mathematics it is a common convention to express the normal as a unit vector, but the above argument holds for a normal vector of any non-zero length.

Conversely, it is easily shown that if a, b, c, and d are constants and a, b, and c are not all zero, then the graph of the equation

$ax+by+cz+d=0,$ is a plane having the vector n = (a, b, c) as a normal. This familiar equation for a plane is called the general form of the equation of the plane.

Thus for example a regression equation of the form y = d + ax + cz (with b = −1) establishes a best-fit plane in three-dimensional space when there are two explanatory variables.

### Describing a plane with a point and two vectors lying on it

Alternatively, a plane may be described parametrically as the set of all points of the form

${\boldsymbol {r))={\boldsymbol {r))_{0}+s{\boldsymbol {v))+t{\boldsymbol {w)),$  Vector description of a plane

where s and t range over all real numbers, v and w are given linearly independent vectors defining the plane, and r0 is the vector representing the position of an arbitrary (but fixed) point on the plane. The vectors v and w can be visualized as vectors starting at r0 and pointing in different directions along the plane. The vectors v and w can be perpendicular, but cannot be parallel.

### Describing a plane through three points

Let p1 = (x1, y1, z1), p2 = (x2, y2, z2), and p3 = (x3, y3, z3) be non-collinear points.

#### Method 1

The plane passing through p1, p2, and p3 can be described as the set of all points (x,y,z) that satisfy the following determinant equations:

${\begin{vmatrix}x-x_{1}&y-y_{1}&z-z_{1}\\x_{2}-x_{1}&y_{2}-y_{1}&z_{2}-z_{1}\\x_{3}-x_{1}&y_{3}-y_{1}&z_{3}-z_{1}\end{vmatrix))={\begin{vmatrix}x-x_{1}&y-y_{1}&z-z_{1}\\x-x_{2}&y-y_{2}&z-z_{2}\\x-x_{3}&y-y_{3}&z-z_{3}\end{vmatrix))=0.$ #### Method 2

To describe the plane by an equation of the form $ax+by+cz+d=0$ , solve the following system of equations:

$ax_{1}+by_{1}+cz_{1}+d=0$ $ax_{2}+by_{2}+cz_{2}+d=0$ $ax_{3}+by_{3}+cz_{3}+d=0.$ This system can be solved using Cramer's rule and basic matrix manipulations. Let

$D={\begin{vmatrix}x_{1}&y_{1}&z_{1}\\x_{2}&y_{2}&z_{2}\\x_{3}&y_{3}&z_{3}\end{vmatrix)).$ If D is non-zero (so for planes not through the origin) the values for a, b and c can be calculated as follows:

$a={\frac {-d}{D)){\begin{vmatrix}1&y_{1}&z_{1}\\1&y_{2}&z_{2}\\1&y_{3}&z_{3}\end{vmatrix))$ $b={\frac {-d}{D)){\begin{vmatrix}x_{1}&1&z_{1}\\x_{2}&1&z_{2}\\x_{3}&1&z_{3}\end{vmatrix))$ $c={\frac {-d}{D)){\begin{vmatrix}x_{1}&y_{1}&1\\x_{2}&y_{2}&1\\x_{3}&y_{3}&1\end{vmatrix)).$ These equations are parametric in d. Setting d equal to any non-zero number and substituting it into these equations will yield one solution set.

#### Method 3

This plane can also be described by the "point and a normal vector" prescription above. A suitable normal vector is given by the cross product

${\boldsymbol {n))=({\boldsymbol {p))_{2}-{\boldsymbol {p))_{1})\times ({\boldsymbol {p))_{3}-{\boldsymbol {p))_{1}),$ and the point r0 can be taken to be any of the given points p1, p2 or p3 (or any other point in the plane).

## Operations

### Distance from a point to a plane

In Euclidean space, the distance from a point to a plane is the distance between a given point and its orthogonal projection on the plane, the perpendicular distance to the nearest point on the plane.

It can be found starting with a change of variables that moves the origin to coincide with the given point then finding the point on the shifted plane $ax+by+cz=d$ that is closest to the origin. The resulting point has Cartesian coordinates $(x,y,z)$ :

$\displaystyle x={\frac {ad}{a^{2}+b^{2}+c^{2))},\quad \quad \displaystyle y={\frac {bd}{a^{2}+b^{2}+c^{2))},\quad \quad \displaystyle z={\frac {cd}{a^{2}+b^{2}+c^{2)))$ .
The distance between the origin and the point $(x,y,z)$ is ${\sqrt {x^{2}+y^{2}+z^{2)))$ .

### Line–plane intersection The three possible plane-line relationships in three dimensions. (Shown in each case is only a portion of the plane, which extends infinitely far.)

In analytic geometry, the intersection of a line and a plane in three-dimensional space can be the empty set, a point, or a line. It is the entire line if that line is embedded in the plane, and is the empty set if the line is parallel to the plane but outside it. Otherwise, the line cuts through the plane at a single point.

Distinguishing these cases, and determining equations for the point and line in the latter cases, have use in computer graphics, motion planning, and collision detection.

### Line of intersection between two planes Two intersecting planes in three-dimensional space
In analytic geometry, the intersection of two planes in three-dimensional space is a line.

### Sphere–plane intersection

When the intersection of a sphere and a plane is not empty or a single point, it is a circle. This can be seen as follows:

Let S be a sphere with center O, P a plane which intersects S. Draw OE perpendicular to P and meeting P at E. Let A and B be any two different points in the intersection. Then AOE and BOE are right triangles with a common side, OE, and hypotenuses AO and BO equal. Therefore, the remaining sides AE and BE are equal. This proves that all points in the intersection are the same distance from the point E in the plane P, in other words all points in the intersection lie on a circle C with center E. This proves that the intersection of P and S is contained in C. Note that OE is the axis of the circle.

Now consider a point D of the circle C. Since C lies in P, so does D. On the other hand, the triangles AOE and DOE are right triangles with a common side, OE, and legs EA and ED equal. Therefore, the hypotenuses AO and DO are equal, and equal to the radius of S, so that D lies in S. This proves that C is contained in the intersection of P and S.

As a corollary, on a sphere there is exactly one circle that can be drawn through three given points.

The proof can be extended to show that the points on a circle are all a common angular distance from one of its poles.

Compare also conic sections, which can produce ovals.