Envelopes and characteristics

J.W. Bruce

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Envelopes of hypersurfaces arise in many different geometric situations. For example, the canal surfaces associated with a space curve can be obtained as the envelope of spheres of a fixed radius centred on that curve. (Other examples can be found in [11], chapter II and [4], chapter 5). In what follows we shall be entirely concerned with the local structure of such envelopes. So essentially we have a smooth map germ with 0 a regular value of the restriction of F to . For near 0 we have a smooth hypersurface near , where . The envelope of this family of hypersurfaces is obtained by eliminating t from the equations . Moreover, it can be identified with the discriminant of F viewed as an unfolding, by the x variables, of the function germ . This observation, together with standard results on versal unfoldings of functions, allows one to determine the local structure of many ‘generic’ geometric envelopes. See [2] for details.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)475-492
    JournalMathematical Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1986


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