# Surface Normals and Tangent Planes

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1 Surface Normals and Tangent Planes Normal and Tangent Planes to Level Surfaces Because the equation of a plane requires a point and a normal vector to the plane, nding the equation of a tangent plane to a surface at a given point requires the calculation of a surface normal vector. In this section, we explore the concept of a normal vector to a surface and its use in nding equations of tangent planes. To begin with, a level surface U (x; y; z) = k is said to be smooth if the gradient ru = hu x ; U y ; U z i is continuous and non-zero at any point on the surface. Equivalently, we often write ru = U x e x + U y e y + U z e z where e x = h1; 0; 0i ; e y = h0; 1; 0i ; and e z = h0; 0; 1i : Suppose now that r (t) = hx (t) ; y (t) ; z (t)i lies on a smooth surface U (x; y; z) = k: Applying the derivative with respect to t to both sides of the equation of the level surface yields du dt = d dt k Since k is a constant, the chain rule implies that ru v = 0 where v = hx 0 (t) ; y 0 (t) ; z 0 (t)i. However, v is tangent to the surface because it is tangent to a curve on the surface, which implies that ru is orthogonal to each tangent vector v at a given point on the surface. That is, ru (p; q; r) at a given point (p; q; r) is normal to the tangent plane to 1

2 the surface U(x; y; z) = k at the point (p; q; r). We thus say that the gradient ru is normal to the surface U(x; y; z) = k at each point on the surface. EXAMPLE 1 Find the equation of the tangent plane to the hyperboloid in 2 sheets x 2 y 2 z 2 = 4 at the point (3; 2; 1) : Solution: To begin with, we identify U (x; y; z) = x 2 y 2 z 2 ; so that its gradient is ru = h2x; 2y; 2zi At the point (2; 3; 1), the vector n = ru (3; 2; 1) = h6; 4; 2i is normal to the surface, so that the equation of the tangent plane is 6 (x 3) 4 (y 2) 2 (z 1) = 0 2

3 which simpli es to the equation z = 3x 2y 4: EXAMPLE 2 Find the equation of the tangent plane to the right circular cone x 2 + y 2 = z 2 at the point (0:6; 0:8; 1) : Solution: Since the equation of the surface can be written x 2 + y 2 z 2 = 0; we let As a result, the gradient of U is U (x; y; z) = x 2 + y 2 z 2 ru = h2x; 2y; 2zi At the point (0:6; 0:8; 1) ; the vector ru (0:6; 0:8; 1) = h1:2; 1:6; 2i is normal to the surface, so the equation of the tangent plane is 1:2 (x 0:6) + 1:6 (y 0:8) 2 (z 1) = 0 Solving for z yields z = 0:6x + 0:8y, which is shown in the gure 3

4 below: Check your Reading: What degenerate conic section is formed by the intersection of the cone with the plane in example 2? Normal and Tangent Planes to Parametric Surfaces If r (u; v) is a regular parametrization of a surface, then the vector r u r v is perpendicular to both r u and r v : Thus, r u r v must also be perpendicular to 4

5 the tangent plane spanned by r u and r v : We say that the cross product r u r v is normal to the surface. Similar to the rst section, the vector r u r v can be used as the normal vector in determining the equation of the tangent plane at a point of the form (x 1 ; y 1 ; z 1 ) = r (p; q) : EXAMPLE 3 Find the equation of the tangent plane to the torus r = h(2 + sin (v)) cos (u) ; (2 + sin (v)) sin (u) ; cos (v)i at the point r (0; 0) : Solution: The vectors r u and r v are given by r u = h (2 + sin (v)) sin (u) ; (2 + sin (v)) cos (u) ; 0i r v = hcos (v) cos (u) ; cos (v) sin (u) ; sin (v)i so that r u (0; 0) = h0; 2; 0i = 2j and r v (0; 0) = h1; 0; 0i = i: Thus, the normal to the plane is n = r u (0; 0) r v (0; 0) = 2j i = 2k That is, n = h0; 0; 2i : Since r (0; 0) = (2; 0; 1) ; the equation of the tangent plane at that point is 0 (x 2) + 0 (y 0) 2 (z 1) = 0 5

6 which reduces to z = 1: If r (u; v) is the parameterization of a surface, then the surface unit normal is de ned n = r u r v jjr u r v jj The vector n is also normal to the surface. surf3 Moreover, n is often considered to be a function n (u; v) which assigns a normal unit vector to each point on the surface. EXAMPLE 4 Find the surface unit normal and the equation of the tangent plane to the cylinder r (u; v) = h3 cos (u) ; 3 sin (u) ; vi at r (; 2) = ( 3; 0; 2) : Solution: Since r u = h 3 sin (u) ; 3 cos (u) ; 0i = 3 sin (u) i+3 cos (u) j and since r v = h0; 0; 1i = k; their cross product is r u r v = ( 3 sin (u) i + 3 cos (u) j) k = 3 sin (u) i k + 3 cos (u) j k = 3 sin (u) j + 3 cos (u) i 6

7 It is easy to show that jjr u r v jj = 3; so that the unit surface normal is n = r u r v = cos (u) i+ sin (u) j jjr u r v jj The tangent plane is the plane through ( 3; 0; 2) with a normal of n (; 2) = cos () i+ sin () j = h 1; 0; 0i Thus, the equation of the tangent plane is which reduces to x = 1: 1 (x 1) + 0 (y 0) + 0 (z 0) = 0 Check Your Reading: Does the tangent plane in example 4 intersect the cylinder at only one point? Tangents and Normals to Graphs of Functions If f (x; y) is di erentiable at (p; q) ; then linearization of f (x; y) at (p; q) leads to a tangent plane to z = f (x; y) at (p; q; f (p; q)) of z = f (p; q) + f x (p; q) (x p) + f y (p; q) (y q) This formula was developed using the total derivative. 7

8 However, we can also nd the tangent plane to z = f (x; y) at (p; q; f (p; q)) by (a) considering the level surface z f (x; y) = 0 or (b) considering the parameterization r (u; v) = hu; v; f (u; v)i at the point r (p; q) : The result is the same for all 3 methods. EXAMPLE 5 Find the equation of the tangent plane to f (x; y) = x 2 y 2 at (1; 2) by (a) linearization of f (x; y) at (1; 2) (b) considering the surface f (x; y) z = 0 at (1; 2; f (1; 2)) and (c) nding the tangent plane to a parameterization of the form r (u; v) = hu; v; f (u; v)i at r (1; 2) : The answer should be the same in all 3 cases: Solution: (a) Since f x = 2x and f y = 2y; we have f x (1; 2) = 2; and f y (1; 2) = 4: Thus, f (1; 2) = 3 and correspondingly, the equation of the tangent plane is z = f (p; q) + f x (p; q) (x p) + f y (p; q) (y q) = (x 1) 4 (y 2) which simpli es to z = 2x 4y+3: (b) If U (x; y; z) = z x 2 y 2 ; then ru = h 2x; 2y; 1i Since f (1; 2) = 3; the point of tangency is (1; 2; 3) and ru (1; 2; 3) = h 2; 4; 1i Using ru (1; 2 3) as the normal, we obtain 2 (x 1) + 4 (y 2) + 1 (z 3) = 0 which upon solving for z yields z = 2x r (u; v) = u; v; u 2 4y + 3: (c) If we let v 2 then r u = h1; 0; 2ui and r v = h0; 1; 2vi : Thus, r u (1; 2) = h1; 0; 2i and r v (1; 2) = h0; 1; 4i and r u (1; 2)r v (1; 2) = h 2; 4; 1i ; which is the same as ru (1; 2; 3) : Since r (1; 2) = h1; 2; 3i ; the equation of the tangent plane is again z = 2x 4y + 3 8

9 Of course, in applications only one approach is necessary. But there are times when one method is preferred over another. For example, there are applications when it is necessary to have an orthonormal basis for the tangent plane i.e., two unit vectors in the plane that are perpendicular to each other. For an orthogonal parameterization r (u; v) ; we need only rescale r u and r v into unit vectors to obtain the desired orthonormal basis (such rescaling is known as normalization). 9

10 However, if r (u; v) = hu; v; f (u; v)i ; then r u r v = f u f v ; which typically is non-zero. However, if we let U (x; y; z) = z f (x; y) where x = u; y = v; then the vector w = ru r u is in the tangent plane and is perpendicular to r u : Normalizing r u and w resuts in an orthonormal basis for each tangent plane. Conversely, proofs of theorems often begin with an assumption that a parametric or level surface implicitly de nes z as a function z = f (x; y) in a coordinate patch of the surface containing a given point, thus allowing techniques and ideas as in chapter 2 (or we may assume that x is implicitly de ned as a function of y; z, etcetera). Check Your Reading: What is ru (1; 2; 3) if we let U (x; y; z) = f (x; y) z in example 5? Orientability and the Unit Surface Normal Geometrically, saying that a level surface is smooth is equivalent to saying that it is orientable, where by orientable we mean that if we de ne the unit surface 10

11 normal to be n = ru jjru jj then n varies continuously across the surface. Intuitively, orientable means that if the initial points of the unit surface normals n are placed on the surface, then their terminal points are all on the same side of the surface. If a surface is closed (such as a sphere), then we assume its orientation to be with all normal vectors pointing toward the outside of the surface. EXAMPLE 6 Explain why the surface z = x 2 cos (y) is orientable. Solution: Since z = x 2 cos (y) is the same as x 2 cos (y) let U (x; y; z) = z x 2 cos (y) ; so that ru = 2x cos (y) ; x 2 sin (y) ; 1 z = 0; we Since the z-component of ru is 1, it is not possible for ru to ever be 0. In fact, because the z-component of ru is positive, the normal vectors must all be above the surface z = x 2 cos (y) : 11

12 It follows that a parametric surface is orientable if n (u; v) varies continuously across the surface and de nes only one surface normal at each point on the surface. EXAMPLE 7 Find the unit surface normal of the surface r (; z) = hr cos () ; r sin () ; cosh (r)i for in [0; 2] and r in [0; 1] is orientable. is orientable. Explain why the surface Solution: Since r r = hcos () ; sin () ; sinh (r)i and r = h r sin () ; r cos () ; 0i ; their cross product is r r r = hcos () ; sin () ; sinh (r)i h r sin () ; r cos () ; 0i = r h sinh (r) cos () ; sinh (r) sin () ; 1i The square of the magnitude of their cross product is kr r r k 2 = r 2 sinh 2 (r) cos 2 () + sinh 2 (r) sin 2 () + 1 = r 2 sinh 2 (r) + 1 = r 2 cosh 2 (r) Thus, kr r r k = r cosh (r) ; so that the surface unit normal is r r r n = kr r r k r h sinh (r) cos () ; sinh (r) sin () ; 1i = r cosh (r) sinh (r) sinh (r) = cos () ; cosh (r) cosh (r) sin () ; 1 cosh (r) = h tanh (r) cos () ; tanh (r) sin () ; sech (r)i Since n (r; ) = h tanh (r) cos () ; tanh (r) sin () ; sech (r)i is continuous fro all r and ; and since n (r; ) is 2-periodic, the surface 12

13 is orientable. Not all surfaces can be oriented. For example, a Möbius strip, which can be formed by twisting a strip of paper one half turn and pasting the two ends together, cannot be oriented). Indeed, if normal vectors are drawn on the surface, then the half-twist means that there will be a discontinuity in the assignment of unit normal vectors, or 13

14 equivalently, a sudden reversal of the direction of the normals. Exercises Find the equation of the tangent plane to the given surface at the given point. 1. x 2 + y 2 + z 2 = 11 at (1; 1; 3) 2. x 2 + y 2 + z 2 = 9 at (2; 1; 2) 3. xy + z 2 = 4 at (1; 2; 2) 4. x 2 y + z 2 = 4 at (1; 2; 2) 5. 3x + 4y + 2z = 13 at (1; 2; 1) 6. 3x 2y + 4z = 4 at (2; 1; 2) 7. x 2 + y 2 z 2 = 1 at (1; 1; 1) 8. x 2 y 2 z 2 = 2 at (2; 1; 1) 9. xe y + z = 2 at (1; 0; 1) 10. sin (xy) + z = 2 at (; 1; 2) Find the equation of the tangent plane to r (u; v) at the point r (p; q) for the given (p; q) : 11. r = hv sin (u) ; v cos (u) ; vi 12. r = hv cos (u) ; v sin (u) ; vi (p; q) = (=4; 2) (p; q) = (=2; 1) 13. r = hcos (u) ; sin (u) ; vi 14. r = hcos (u) ; sin (u) ; vi (p; q) = (=4; 3) (p; q) = (=2; 1) 15. r = hv sin (u) ; v cos (u) ; uvi 16. r = v sin (u) ; v 2 ; v cos (u) (p; q) = (=3; 1) (p; q) = (=4; 1) 17. r = hsin (v) sin (u) ; cos (v) sin (u) ; cos (u)i 18. r = hsin (v) sin (u) ; cos (v) sin (u) ; cos (u)i (p; q) = (=4; =4) (p; q) = (=3; =4) 19. r = he v sin (u) ; e v cos (u) ; e v i 20. r = hsin (u) cosh (v) ; sin (u) sinh (v) ; cos (u)i (p; q) = (; 1) (p; q) = (; ln 2) Find the tangent plane to the graph of f (x; y) at (p; q; f (p; q)) by (a) using methods from section 2-5, (b) considering the surface z f (x; y) = 0; and (c) 14

15 nding the tangent plane to a parameterization of the form r (u; v) = hu; v; f (u; v)i The answer should be the same in all 3 cases: 21. f (x; y) = x 2 y; (p; q) = (2; 1) 22. f (x; y) = x 2 + y 2 ; (p; q) = (1; 1) 23. f (x; y) = 3x + 2y + 1; (p; q) = (0; 0) 24. f (x; y) = xy; (p; q) = (1; 1) 25. f (x; y) = xe xy ; (p; q) = (2; 0) 26. f (x; y) = ln x 2 + y 2 ; (p; q) = (1; 1) 27. Is the surface r (u; v) = hv sin (u) ; v cos (u) ; vi, u in [0; 2] ; v in [1; 2] ; orientable? Explain. 28. Consider the surface parameterized by D u u E r (u; v) = v cos ; sin (u) ; v sin 2 2 for u in [0; 2] and v in [ 0:3; 0:3] : Find r u and r v and then calculate Use these to calculate r u (0; v) ; r u (2; 0) ; r v (0; v) ; and r v (2; 0) n (0; v) = r u (0; v) r v (0; v) jjr u (0; v) r v (0; v)jj and n (2; v) = r u (2; v) r v (2; v) jjr u (2; v) r v (2; v)jj Is n (0; v) = n (2; v)? Is the surface orientable? 29. Find the equation of the tangent plane to the cone x 2 + y 2 = z 2 at (1; 0; 1) using (a) a level surface and (b) the parameterization r (u; v) = hv cos (u) ; v sin (u) ; vi at r (0; 1) : The answer should be the same in both cases. 30. Find the equation of the tangent plane to r (u; v) = ue v ; ue v ; u at r (1; 0) : Then nd the equation of the tangent plane again using a level surface representation of r (u; v) : The answer should be the same in both cases. 31. Show that the equation of the tangent plane to an elliptic paraboloid z c = x2 a 2 + y2 b 2 at a point (m; n; p) on the elliptic paraboloid is of the form z + p 2c = mx a 2 + ny b 2 15

16 32. Find the equation of the tangent plane to x 2 + y 2 = z 2 at the point (m; n; p), and then show that it must pass through the line mx + ny = 0 in the xy-plane. 33. If (m; n; p) is a point on a sphere of radius R centered at the origin, what is the equation of the tangent plane to the sphere at (m; n; p)? 34. Show that the normal vector to a sphere of radius R at a point (m; n; p) is parallel to the radius vector hm; n; pi : What does this say about the relationship between the radius vector hm; n; pi and any vector tangent to the sphere at (m; n; p)? 35. Show that any tangent plane to z = x 2 y 2 intersects the surface in two perpendicular lines. 36. Show that any tangent plane to x 2 + y 2 z 2 = 1 intersects the surface in two lines. 37. Determine the longitude 0 and latitude ' 0 of your present location. Assume that earth is a sphere with latitude-longitude parameterization of r ('; ) = h3960 cos (') cos () ; 3960 cos (') sin () ; 3960 sin (')i What is the equation of the tangent plane to the earth at your location? (note: this problem assumes an xyz-coordinate system at the center of the earth with z-axis through the poles and x-axis at 0 longitude). 38. A parabolic mirror is in the shape of a paraboloid with equation 4pz = x 2 + y 2 where p is a number. Show that a vertical line through a point (a; b; c) forms the same angle with the tangent plane at (a; b; c) as does the line through (a; b; c) and (0; 0; p) : (i.e., that a vertical ray of light is re ected by the paraboloid to the focus at (0; 0; p)): 39. Explain why if n denotes the surface normal of a surface r (u; v) ; then n (u; v) is a parameterization of a section of the unit sphere. What section of 16

17 the unit sphere is parameterized by the surface normal n to the right circular cylinder r (u; v) = hcos (u) ; sin (u) ; vi 40. What section of the unit sphere is parameterized by the surface normal n to the surface r (u; v) = hv cos (u) ; v sin (u) ; cosh (v)i for v 0 and u in [0; 2] : (see exercise 39). 41. Write to Learn: Write a short essay which explains why the tangent plane to a plane is the plane itself. In particular, demonstrate using a parametric representation of a plane r (u; v) = ha + mu + nv; b + pu + qv; c + su + tvi for constants a; b; c; m; n; p; q; s; and t; demonstrate using a level surface representation (x a) + (y b) + (z c) = 0 for ; ; and constant, and also demonstrate using a functional form by solving for z when 6= 0: 42. Write to Learn: Suppose that two smooth surfaces F (x; y; z) = k and G (x; y; z) = l both contain the point (x 0 ; y 0 ; z 0 ) and that rf (x 0 ; y 0 ; z 0 ) = crg (x 0 ; y 0 ; z 0 ) for some number c: Write a short essay which explains why the two surfaces are tangent at (x 0 ; y 0 ; z 0 ) : 17

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