In mathematics, a projection is an idempotentmapping of a set (or other mathematical structure) into a subset (or sub-structure). In this case, idempotent means that projecting twice is the same as projecting once. The restriction to a subspace of a projection is also called a projection, even if the idempotence property is lost.
An everyday example of a projection is the casting of shadows onto a plane (sheet of paper): the projection of a point is its shadow on the sheet of paper, and the projection (shadow) of a point on the sheet of paper is that point itself (idempotency). The shadow of a three-dimensional sphere is a closed disk. Originally, the notion of projection was introduced in Euclidean geometry to denote the projection of the three-dimensional Euclidean space onto a plane in it, like the shadow example. The two main projections of this kind are:
The projection from a point onto a plane or central projection: If C is a point, called the center of projection, then the projection of a point P different from C onto a plane that does not contain C is the intersection of the lineCP with the plane. The points P such that the line CP is parallel to the plane does not have any image by the projection, but one often says that they project to a point at infinity of the plane (see Projective geometry for a formalization of this terminology). The projection of the point C itself is not defined.
The concept of projection in mathematics is a very old one, and most likely has its roots in the phenomenon of the shadows cast by real-world objects on the ground. This rudimentary idea was refined and abstracted, first in a geometric context and later in other branches of mathematics. Over time different versions of the concept developed, but today, in a sufficiently abstract setting, we can unify these variations.
Generally, a mapping where the domain and codomain are the same set (or mathematical structure) is a projection if the mapping is idempotent, which means that a projection is equal to its composition with itself. A projection may also refer to a mapping which has a right inverse. Both notions are strongly related, as follows. Let p be an idempotent mapping from a set A into itself (thus p ∘ p = p) and B = p(A) be the image of p. If we denote by π the map p viewed as a map from A onto B and by i the injection of B into A (so that p = i ∘ π), then we have π ∘ i = IdB (so that π has a right inverse). Conversely, if π has a right inverse, then π ∘ i = IdB implies that i ∘ π is idempotent.
The original notion of projection has been extended or generalized to various mathematical situations, frequently, but not always, related to geometry, for example:
The evaluation map sends a function f to the value f(x) for a fixed x. The space of functions YX can be identified with the Cartesian product , and the evaluation map is a projection map from the Cartesian product.
In linear algebra, a linear transformation that remains unchanged if applied twice: p(u) = p(p(u)). In other words, an idempotent operator. For example, the mapping that takes a point (x, y, z) in three dimensions to the point (x, y, 0) is a projection. This type of projection naturally generalizes to any number of dimensions n for the domain and k ≤ n for the codomain of the mapping. See Orthogonal projection, Projection (linear algebra). In the case of orthogonal projections, the space admits a decomposition as a product, and the projection operator is a projection in that sense as well.[verification needed]