Dupin cyclide

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A surface for which both families of curvature lines consist of circles, so that it is a special case of a canal surface. Both sheets of the focal set of a Dupin cyclide degenerate to curves, and , which are curves of the second order. There are three types of Dupin cyclides.

1) The evolutes are an ellipse and a hyperbola; the radius vector of the corresponding Dupin cyclide is


2) The evolutes are focal parabolas; the radius vector is


3) The evolutes are a circle and a straight line; the corresponding Dupin cyclide is a torus.

Dupin cyclides are algebraic surfaces of order four in the cases 1) and 3) above, and of order three in the case 2).


[1] Ch. Dupin, "Développements de géométrie" , Paris (1813)
[2] F. Klein, "Vorlesungen über höhere Geometrie" , Springer (1926)
[3] D. Hilbert, S.E. Cohn-Vossen, "Anschauliche Geometrie" , Springer (1932)


Originally, a Dupin cycle was defined more geometrically as the envelope of a family of spheres tangent to three fixed spheres. Every Dupin cyclide can be obtained from the following three examples by inversion in a suitable sphere: a torus of revolution, a circular cylinder and a circular cone.

The Dupin cyclides are surfaces of the second order in pentaspherical coordinates and have, moreover, two equal axis. For more on Dupin cyclides see [a2], pp. 359-360 and [a3], pp. 355-356; 441. A remarkable property of cyclides is the fact that they carry four families of circles.

The natural generalization of the Dupin cyclides to higher dimensions are the so-called Dupin-hypersurfaces (see [a1]).


[a1] T.E. Cecil, P.J. Ryan, "Tight and taut immersions of manifolds" , Pitman (1985)
[a2] M. Berger, "Geometry" , II , Springer (1987)
[a3] M. Berger, B. Gostiaux, "Differential geometry: manifolds, curves, and surfaces" , Springer (1988) (Translated from French)
[a4] W. Blaschke, K. Leichtweiss, "Elementare Differentialgeometrie" , Springer (1973)
How to Cite This Entry:
Dupin cyclide. I.Kh. Sabitov (originator), Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:
This text originally appeared in Encyclopedia of Mathematics - ISBN 1402006098