Steiner curve

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A plane algebraic curve of order four, described by the point on a circle of radius $r$ rolling upon a circle of radius $R=3r$ and having with it internal tangency; a hypocycloid with modulus $m=3$. A Steiner curve is expressed by the following equation in rectangular Cartesian coordinates:


A Steiner curve has three cusps (see Fig. a).

Figure: s087650a

The length of the arc from the point $A$ is:

$$l=\frac{16}{3}r\sin^2\frac t4.$$

The length of the entire curve is $16r$. The radius of curvature is $r_k=8\sin(t/2)$. The area bounded by the curve is $S=2\pi r^2$.

This curve was studied by Jacob Steiner (1798–1863).


[1] J. Steiner, "Werke" , 1–2 , Springer (1880–1882)



[a1] M. Berger, "Geometry" , 1–2 , Springer (1987) pp. §9.14.34 (Translated from French)
[a2] F. Gomes Teixeira, "Traité des courbes" , 1–3 , Chelsea, reprint (1971)
How to Cite This Entry:
Steiner curve. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This article was adapted from an original article by D.D. Sokolov (originator), which appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098. See original article