Elliptic geometry

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Elliptic geometry (sometimes known as Riemannian geometry) is a non-Euclidean geometry, in which, given a line L and a point p outside L, there exists no line parallel to L passing through p.

Elliptic geometry, like hyperbolic geometry, violates Euclid's parallel postulate, which asserts that there is exactly one line parallel to L passing through p. In elliptic geometry, there are no parallel lines at all. Elliptic geometry has other unusual properties. For example, the sum of the angles of any triangle is always greater than 180°.

The simplest model of elliptic geometry is that of spherical geometry, where points are points on the sphere, and lines are great circles through those points. On the sphere, such as the surface of the Earth, it is easy to give an example of a triangle that requires more than 180°: For two of the sides, take lines of longitude that differ by 90°. These form an angle of 90° at the North Pole. For the third side, take the equator. The angle of any longitude line makes with the equator is again 90°. This gives us a triangle with an angle sum of 270°, which would be impossible in Euclidean geometry.

Elliptic geometry is sometimes called Riemannian geometry, in honor of Bernhard Riemann, but this term is usually used for a vast generalization of elliptic geometry.

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