Course: College Algebra
Topic: Conic Sections
Subtopic: Introduction to Conics


The conic sections are curves formed when a cone is sliced by a plane (see your text for pictures). Depending on the angle of the plane in relation to the cone, the curve formed at their intersection is an ellipse, parabola, or hyperbola. (A circle is usually also included in this list, but actually a circle is just a special case of an ellipse.) We will study these static curves in preparation for calculus III where we will study the motion of these curves (including in polar form). The conics have lots of real-life applications including parabolic trajectories, elliptical orbits of the planets, and the reflective properties of hyperbolas.


By the end of this topic you should know and be prepared to be tested on:


Terms you should be able to define: cone, section, slice, conic section

Supplemental Resources

Watch Introduction to Conic Sections from MathIsPower4U.

Explore Interactive 3D Double Cone to Conic Sections.

Read Occurrence of the Conics for a nice overview of conic sections and their applications.

rev. 2020-11-29