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        Deposit  #11

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Dr. Adam Coffman

Department of Mathematical Sciences
Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne 

Roman surface

Surfaces and Computer Graphics 

Steiner Roman Surfaces
Jakob Steiner (1796 - 1863 ) was a Swiss mathematician who became a professor at the University of Berlin.  He visited Rome in 1844 where he developed the concept of a surface that we now call Steiner's Roman Surface.  Its special properties are as follows:
  1.  The real projective plane can be constructed as a topological surface, by attaching a Mobius strip along its circular edge to the circular edge of a disk.  Another construction of the real projective plane is to identify antipodal (diametrically opposite) points on a sphere.  There is no way to represent this surface in three dimensions without the surface intersecting itself. 

  2.  Steiner's Roman surface is one representation of the real projective plane, and it intersects itself along three line segments. 

  3.  These three line segments meet each other at a triple point, and their six endpoints are called pinch points. 

  4.  Another interesting property of Steiner's Roman surface is that at each of its points, there are infinitely many conic section curves which go through that point and lie on the surface.

  5.  The Roman surface can be defined by parametric functions which are quotients of quadratic polynomials in three variables: 

Roman surface equations

  Notice that the equations are "homogeneous," which means that for any non-zero constant c,F(r,s,t)=F(cr,cs,ct). 

Any surface defined by homogeneous quadratic rational functions like this is called a "Steiner surface," and the Roman surface is one of 10 types, as classified by Coffman, Schwartz, and Stanton. 

  6.  The homogeneous property of the parametric equations means that we don't have to use all three domain variables (r,s,t), but can use just two parameters to describe the surface.  One two-parameter equation for the Roman surface is: 

Roman surface equations

  7.  Another two-parameter equation for the Roman surface is to use points (r,s,t) on the unit sphere, which itself has parametric equations

Roman surface equations

Since r^2+s^2+t^2=1, the composition of the Roman map F and the Sphere map S, or F(S(u,v)), is 

Roman surface equations

 Since F(r,s,t)=F(-r,-s,-t), the antipodal points on the sphere have the same image. 

Roman Surface animation

Steiner's first major publication ( Systematische Entwicklung der Abhängigkeit geometrischer Gestalten von einander . . ., part 1, Berlin 322pp., 1832) laid the foundation for modern synthetic geometry.  Very soon after this volume appeared numerous honors were bestowed on him.  They included an honorary degree from the University of Königsberg (1833) and a new chair of geometry at the University of Berlin.  His Roman Surface papers appeared near the peak of an outstanding career.


The implicit equation:

The composition simplifies to


The code is as follows:


Deposit # 11 Links

For an Index of Steiner Surface images, see  <  >   

For Roman Surfaces from the University of Minnesota Geometry Center, see <   >.

For an array of surfaces, see the Tore Nordstrand Gallery from Norway <   >.
          Nordstrand used the raytracer Persistence of Vision, or PoV for short.

Coffman, A., Schwartz, A., and Stanton, C.  "The Algebra and Geometry of Steiner and Other Quadratically Parametrizable Surfaces."  Computer Aided Geometric Design, 13, 257 -286, 1996.

Gray, A.,  MODERN DIFFERENTIAL GEOMETRY of Curves and Surfaces with MATHEMATICA®,   2nd. ed., CRC Press, 1998.  See p.332 and p.963.

Shikin, Eugene V.,  Handbook and Atlas of Curves, CRC Press, 1995.

Steiner's papers were collected, edited by another famous mathematician, Karl Weierstrass, and published by the Prussian Academy of Sciences.
( Jacob Steiner's Gesammelte Werke, Berlin, 2 v., 1881-82.)

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