Ellipsoidal coordinates

From Encyclopedia of Mathematics
Jump to: navigation, search

spatial elliptic coordinates

The numbers , and connected with Cartesian rectangular coordinates , and by the formulas

where . The coordinate surfaces are (see Fig.): ellipses , one-sheet hyperbolas (), and two-sheet hyperbolas (), with centres at the coordinate origin.

Figure: e035420a

The system of ellipsoidal coordinates is orthogonal. To every triple of numbers , and correspond 8 points (one in each octant), which are symmetric to each other relative to the coordinate planes of the system .

The Lamé coefficients are

If one of the conditions in the definition of ellipsoidal coordinates is replaced by an equality, then degenerate ellipsoidal coordinate systems are obtained.


Laplace's equation expressed in ellipsoidal coordinates is separable (cf Separation of variables, method of), and leads to Lamé functions.


[a1] G. Darboux, "Leçons sur la théorie générale des surfaces et ses applications géométriques du calcul infinitésimal" , 1 , Gauthier-Villars (1887) pp. 1–18
[a2] Harold Jeffreys, Bertha Jeffreys, Methods of Mathematical Physics, 3rd edition, Cambridge University Press (1972) Zbl 0238.00004
How to Cite This Entry:
Ellipsoidal coordinates. 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