What Is Spherical Geometry?


Quick Answer

Spherical geometry is the branch of mathematics that deals with figures placed on the surface of a sphere. It can also be defined as a three-dimensional view of more traditional planar geometry; although, there are numerous differences between the planar and spherical subsets of geometrical study. Some of the basic tenets of planar geometry don't carry over to spherical geometry because it deals with different mathematical concepts.

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What Is Spherical Geometry?
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Full Answer

Spherical geometry is useful because it creates easy metrics that can be used to study complex three-dimensional shapes, such as spheres. However, there are some caveats to this branch of mathematics because some of the laws and rules of planar geometry don't apply to spherical geometry. For this reason, spherical geometry is sometimes confusing to math students, notes the University of Georgia Mathematical Education Program. As an example, there are no parallel or straight lines in spherical geometry. Circles are the basic shape utilized in this mathematical branch, which stands in stark contrast to traditional planar geometry where students are introduced to lines as one of the simplest and most basic geometric constructs. Consider this: on a globe of the Earth, lines of longitude are parallel at the equator but cross at the poles.

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