Sphere with radius one, usually centered on the origin of the space
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Some 1-spheres. is the norm for Euclidean space discussed in the first section below.
In mathematics, a unit sphere is simply a sphere of radius one around a given center. More generally, it is the set of points of distance 1 from a fixed central point, where different norms can be used as general notions of "distance". A unit ball is the closed set of points of distance less than or equal to 1 from a fixed central point. Usually the center is at the origin of the space, so one speaks of "the unit ball" or "the unit sphere".
Special cases are the unit circle and the unit disk.
The importance of the unit sphere is that any sphere can be transformed to a unit sphere by a combination of translation and scaling. In this way the properties of spheres in general can be reduced to the study of the unit sphere.
Unit spheres and balls in Euclidean space
In Euclidean space of n dimensions, the (n−1)-dimensional unit sphere is the set of all points which satisfy the equation
The n-dimensional open unit ball is the set of all points satisfying the inequality
and the n-dimensional closed unit ball is the set of all points satisfying the inequality
General area and volume formulas
Graphs of volumes (V) and surface areas (S) of unit n-balls.
The classical equation of a unit sphere is that of the ellipsoid with a radius of 1 and no alterations to the x-, y-, or z- axes:
The volume of the unit ball in n-dimensional Euclidean space, and the surface area of the unit sphere, appear in many important formulas of analysis. The volume of the unit ball in n dimensions, which we denote Vn, can be expressed by making use of the gamma function. It is
The hypervolume of the (n−1)-dimensional unit sphere (i.e., the "area" of the boundary of the n-dimensional unit ball), which we denote An−1, can be expressed as
where the last equality holds only for n > 0. For example, is the "area" of the boundary of the unit ball , which simply counts the two points. Then is the "area" of the boundary of the unit disc, which is the circumference of the unit circle. is the area of the boundary of the unit ball , which is the surface area of the unit sphere .
The surface areas and the volumes for some values of are as follows:
where the decimal expanded values for n ≥ 2 are rounded to the displayed precision.
The surface area of an (n−1)-dimensional sphere with radius r is An−1rn−1 and the volume of an n-dimensional ball with radius r is Vnrn. For instance, the area is A = 4πr 2 for the two-dimensional surface of the three-dimensional ball of radius r. The volume is V = 4πr 3 / 3 for the three-dimensional ball of radius r.
The latter is the disjoint union of the former and their common border, the unit sphere of (V,||·||):
The 'shape' of the unit ball is entirely dependent on the chosen norm; it may well have 'corners', and for example may look like [−1,1]n, in the case of the max-norm in Rn. One obtains a naturally round ball as the unit ball pertaining to the usual Hilbert space norm, based in the finite-dimensional case on the Euclidean distance; its boundary is what is usually meant by the unit sphere.
Let Define the usual -norm for p ≥ 1 as:
Then is the usual Hilbert space norm.
is called the Hamming norm, or -norm.
The condition p ≥ 1 is necessary in the definition of the norm, as the unit ball in any normed space must be convex as a consequence of the triangle inequality.
Let denote the max-norm or -norm of x.
Note that for the one-dimensional circumferences of the two-dimensional unit balls, we have:
is the minimum value.
is the maximum value.
All three of the above definitions can be straightforwardly generalized to a metric space, with respect to a chosen origin. However, topological considerations (interior, closure, border) need not apply in the same way (e.g., in ultrametric spaces, all of the three are simultaneously open and closed sets), and the unit sphere may even be empty in some metric spaces.