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Academic Skills Advice

Conics Summary
Conics are curves that are produced when a double cone is intersected by a plane. The 3
main types of conics are:
Parabola
Ellipse (including the circle which is a special case)
Hyperbola

General Equations of Conics:


Shape Name General Equation Description What does the
equation tell us?

= + + Only one squared -intercept is at c.


Parabola term ( or ).
or

= + -intercept at

and terms To find the radius


both squared, make the coefficients
and added. of 2 and 2 equal 1.
Circle + = Coefficients of 2
and 2 are equal
and there is no Centre (0,0) radius=
term. (special
ellipse)

and terms Intercepts -axis at


both squared, and -axis at
Ellipse + = and added (notice that when

= its a circle)

asymptotes The diagonals of the


and terms rectangle (formed
b both squared, with length from a
=
a
Hyperbola then subtracted to a and height from

b to b) are
asymptotes for the
hyperbola.

The hyperbola is still


and terms formed using the
a
both squared, rectangle. 2 first
b
Hyperbola = then subtracted turns it the other

way.

N.b. and could be fractions. Remember that if this is the case with the ellipse or the
hyperbola you may need to turn the fraction upside down to send it to the bottom,
4 2 2
(e.g. becomes 9 (using the rules for dividing fractions)).
9 ( )
4

H Jackson 2010 & 2012 / Academic Skills 1


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Sometimes the centre of the circle, ellipse or hyperbola is not on the origin this can easily
be seen from the equation.

Equations of (translated) conics:


Shape Name General Equation What does the equation tell us?
Notice the extra and . To find
the centre and the radius make the
( ) + ( ) = coefficients of 2 and 2 equal 1.
Circle
Centre at (,) radius =

Notice the extra and

( ) ( ) Centre at ( , ) radius is along


+ = the -axis and along the -axis
Ellipse

asymptotes Notice the extra and

( ) ( ) Centre at ( , )
2
=
2
Hyperbola
The diagonals of the rectangle
(with length 2 and height 2) are
asymptotes for the hyperbola.

N.b. The rectangular hyperbola is a special case where the asymptotes are perpendicular to each
other (i.e. a=b, so a square is formed)

Some equations may need rearranging to help decide on the type of conic they are.

Examples:

Starting Equation Rearrange Conic


We need the equation to =1 Ellipse
9 2 + 4 2 = 36 Centre at (0,0) radius
is 2 along the -axis
( 36) + = and 3 along the -axis

Complete the square for and . Circle


2 2
6 + + 8 = 16
( 3)2 32 + ( + 4)2 42 = 16 Centre at (3,-4)

( ) + ( + ) = radius = 3

Complete the square and rearrange Hyperbola


2 4 9( 2 2) = 14 Centre at (2, 1)
( 2)2 4 9(( 1)2 1) = 14
2 9 2 4 + 18 = 14 ( 2)2 4 9( 1)2 + 9 = 14 The diagonals of the
( 2)2 9( 1)2 = 9 rectangle (length -3
and +3 from the centre
and height 1 and +1
() ()
( 9) = from the centre) are
asymptotes for the
hyperbola.

H Jackson 2010 & 2012 / Academic Skills 2