275- Constant curvature

October 23, 2008

The text we are using for Calculus III introduces the notion of unit tangent vector, principal unit normal vector, and curvature, for smooth curves \vec r(t), and it also mentions that circles and lines are planar curves of constant curvature. (A curve is planar if its image is contained in a plane, i.e., if it describes a two-dimensional trajectory.)

Surprisingly, though, the text does not explain (not even in the exercises) that circles and lines are the only smooth planar curves of constant curvature. The argument for this is simple enough, so I will show it here:

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