A surface with a pinch point
This figure shows a surface with a standard pinch point.
It is given parametrically by:
(s,t) ---> (x, y, z) =
(s, t2, st).
The range of values shown in the figure is -1 <
s < 1 and
-1 < t < 1. Accordingly,
the images of points
(s,t) with s close to -1
are shown in orange, while the images of points (s,t)
with s close to +1 are shown
in pale green. Finally, the
images of points (s,t) with s close to 0 are
shown in purple.
In the "home position" of this sketch we are looking at the surface from
the direction of the negative y-axis.
In that same position, the x-axis
runs from left to right -- with a slight tilt. There are parabolic
in the planes perpendicular to the x-axis; you can see
those by rotating the surface with the mouse. (If you
return to the home position after doing that, just type "h".) So, this
surface is somewhat like what we
would get if we started with a
parabolic cylinder and then pinched the cross-section in the yz-plane
to a line, namely the y-axis. The tightest pinching
occurs at the origin. (In the home position, the origin is the
closest point of the surface the y-axis. In any position,
the pinch point is at the middle of the purple region.)
The origin is the one point on this surface to which the term
"pinch point" is usually applied.
This surface has the following implicit equation:
x2y = z2.
Using this equation, we can check that the surface is singular along
Click here to see
another view of this surface, focused along the singular locus.
The projective closure of our surface has a second
pinch point: it is the point at infinity
on the y-axis. If w is the homogeneous coordinate
at infinity, then the projective closure
satisfies the following implicit equation:
x2y = z2w.
Incidentally, this equation exhibits the surface as a cubic ruled
We can make a projective change of coordinates so that both pinch points
at finite distance. One way of doing this is to replace w
and y by p := w + y
and q := w - y. Then, we set p = 1 to get affine
coordinates x,z,q and the following
q(x2 + z2) = x2 - z2.
Click here to see the
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I made the figure on this page by substituting my own data in a
Geometry Center webpage.
Prof. Joel Roberts
School of Mathematics
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455
Office: 351 Vincent Hall
Phone: (612) 625-1076
Dept. FAX: (612) 626-2017