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Concept# Cross section (geometry)

Summary

In geometry and science, a cross section is the non-empty intersection of a solid body in three-dimensional space with a plane, or the analog in higher-dimensional spaces. Cutting an object into slices creates many parallel cross-sections. The boundary of a cross-section in three-dimensional space that is parallel to two of the axes, that is, parallel to the plane determined by these axes, is sometimes referred to as a contour line; for example, if a plane cuts through mountains of a raised-relief map parallel to the ground, the result is a contour line in two-dimensional space showing points on the surface of the mountains of equal elevation.
In technical drawing a cross-section, being a projection of an object onto a plane that intersects it, is a common tool used to depict the internal arrangement of a 3-dimensional object in two dimensions. It is traditionally crosshatched with the style of crosshatching often indicating the types of materials being used.
With computed axial tomography, computers can construct cross-sections from x-ray data.
If a plane intersects a solid (a 3-dimensional object), then the region common to the plane and the solid is called a cross-section of the solid. A plane containing a cross-section of the solid may be referred to as a cutting plane.
The shape of the cross-section of a solid may depend upon the orientation of the cutting plane to the solid. For instance, while all the cross-sections of a ball are disks, the cross-sections of a cube depend on how the cutting plane is related to the cube. If the cutting plane is perpendicular to a line joining the centers of two opposite faces of the cube, the cross-section will be a square, however, if the cutting plane is perpendicular to a diagonal of the cube joining opposite vertices, the cross-section can be either a point, a triangle or a hexagon.
A related concept is that of a plane section, which is the curve of intersection of a plane with a surface. Thus, a plane section is the boundary of a cross-section of a solid in a cutting plane.

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